Vitamins D, and K for Bone Health

The glue that holds calcium in place

When building a house, nails are required, but nails are not all that is required. If a construction crew showed up at a building site with only nails, but no hammers, wood, or concrete, the house could never be built.

Millions of middle-aged elderly individuals take calcium supplements for the purpose of osteoporosis avoidance, and make sure that a high level of calcium is maintained their diets. Without the proper loading of the body, and components that force absorption, much of this calcium is either passed through the body or can cause health complications.

When it comes to bone mass density, just calcium is not enough. To enable calcium to absorb other components are required, specifically: vitamin D, and vitamin K. Following the above example, without vitamin D, and vitamin K, would be like attempting to build a house with only nails, no hammers or wood.

Sunlight for your bones?

Sunlight, a source of Vitamin D

Sunlight, a source of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is critical for calcium absorption as well. As we are told from childhood on, the body creates this nutrient when given the stimulation of sunlight exposure. Even individuals that live in areas with a more favorable climate for spending time outside, and being exposed to sun are not getting adiquet amounts of vitamin D created by the body. Studies have indicated that 15 minutes per day of direct sunlight can greatly increase vitamin D levels, thereby allowing greater calcium absorption. Those who live in colder climates can choose to consume foods higher vitamin D to supplement what they are not getting by way of natural direct sunlight. Tanning beds, and alternative ultraviolet emitting lights can have some positive effects, but total effects of these solutions have not been studied long term. Tanning beds and lights lack a full spectrum of light that the sun offers, therefore there may be adaptations in the body that cannot be triggered. There is still more to be studied about human skin adaptations and responses to sunlight. High levels of vitamin D have been associated with prevention of hormone related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer.

Bone cell function with vitamin K

Osteoblasts are bone cells that gather minerals inside the bone and form a harder more durable structure as they migrate to the outer part of the bone. This is basically, how bone mass is created once osteogenic levels of loading have been applied. Vitamin K is necessary for this absorption process to take place. Therefore, it is absolutely critical for osteoporosis treatment and avoidance to get proper levels. Foods high in vitamin K are kale, spinach, collard greens, parsley, broccoli, as well as other dark green vegetables. These are many of the same vegetables that are high in calcium as well.

There are 3 types of vitamin K, K1 is found naturally in plants, some sources are detailed above, K2, which is made within our own bodies by our gastrointestinal tract bacteria, and K3, which is a synthetic form that is sometimes given to infants by way of injection. K2 is the most bioavailable form where greater production is stimulated by consuming fermented foods. Vitamin K supplements, often a combination of both K1, and K2 have shown positive outcomes with osteoporotic patients.

 

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