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Issue 50: Women, Read This About Bone Health

You may have heard a lot about vitamins in the past, but if you haven't heard what vitamin K can do, then read on. You might be surprised.

Vitamin K refers to fat-soluble compounds called anphthoquinones. Vitamin K1, also called phylloquinone, is the natural, plant form of this nutrient, while vitamin K2, which goes by the name menaquinone, comes from bacteria in the human gut. Vitamin K3, called menadione, is the synthetic version of vitamin K.

Necessary for normal blood clotting, vitamin K is required for the liver to make the necessary compounds for the blood to properly clot. A vitamin K deficiency or liver dysfunction can lead to deficient blood-clotting and increased bleeding. Those who may be at risk for developing a vitamin K deficiency include those who are chronically malnourished, those who cannot absorb dietary vitamins, and alcoholics.

And while most people may be familiar with the aforementioned roles that vitamin K plays in blood-clotting, some may not know that vitamin K also plays a role in bone health.

Yes; that’s right. Bone health. Add that to the list of vitamin K benefits.

Vitamin K, in fact, activates at least three proteins involved in bone health. And that is significant, especially for those who are aging, says Sarah Booth, who serves in the Vitamin K Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.  

But vitamin K’s benefits may not be just for the aging. Booth recently conducted a survey which supported what she suspected about U.S. diets—that if you’re between 18 and 44 years of age, then you may not be getting enough vitamin K in your diet.

In fact, Booth states that only half the females age 13 and over and less than half the males get the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of phylloquinone, the most common form of vitamin K. She is concerned that the current RDA may not be sufficient for maximizing vitamin K’s function for bone health.

She has discovered, however, that phylloquinone is found particularly in dark-green vegetables like spinach and broccoli. In fact, one serving of spinach or two servings of broccoli provide four to five times the RDA of phylloquinone. And most people do not get enough of this kind of vitamin K.

The form of vitamin K that most of the survey’s respondents said they consumed was another form of vitamin K, called dihydrophylloquinone—which is produced with the hydrogenation process of oils (which are damaged fats or trans fats that have negative health ramifications). Booth determined that hydrogenated oils are not the best sources for vitamin K; plants are the best source—especially in the form of spinach or broccoli.

And its bioavailability benefits both young and old. And that’s good news for those who are getting up in years because there is some evidence that it may help the aging retain their bone health and resist osteoporosis and associated fractures. 

And that’s what vitamin K can do for you.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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