When I was a first year medical student almost thirty years ago, I recalled learning about vitamin K. Unlike other vitamins, vitamin K had a very specific function when it came to the clotting cycle. I still remember that it affects factors 2, 7, 9 and 10. What I didn’t realize back then was that vitamin K did a lot more than help in the manufacturing of clotting factors. Over the years, it has been found that vitamin K is an essential nutrient for proper bone health.
In an article out of the Netherlands published a few weeks ago, 181 post-menopausal women between the ages of 50 to 60 were recruited for a study. During the three year study, participants received either placebo or calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D, with a third group receiving the same vitamins along with the addition of vitamin K1. At the end of the three year trial, the group receiving the supplement containing additional vitamin K1 showed a statistically significant reduction in bone loss of the femoral neck, a bone in the hip that is prone to fracture as one gets older. The mechanism by which vitamin K1 seems to work with bone health is that it converts a particular bone protein called osteocalcin from its inactive form to an active form. Osteocalcin is important in keeping calcium within the bone.
Vitamin K also appears to have another unexpected benefit. In a study published in the August addition of Alternative Medicine Review, the authors indicated that recent research has demonstrated an anti-cancer action of vitamin K. How effective an anti-cancer agent vitamin K is at this point is still uncertain.
Look for a supplement that provides 500 mg of calcium citrate malate (from a total amount of 2,278 mg of calcium) along with 250 mg of magnesium citrate, 700 units of vitamin D along with 150 mcg of vitamin K1 as well as folic acid and soy isoflavones. In 1997, the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a double-blinded placebo controlled study performed in a few hundred healthy individuals (both men and women) over the age of 65. Participants in this study were given 500 mg of calcium citrate malate along with 700 units of vitamin D daily while another group was treated with placebo.
At the end of the two year study, those individuals treated with calcium and vitamin D had a 60% reduction in fracture rate. Healthy Bones not only provides this exact amount of nutrients as shown beneficial in the New England Journal of Medicine study, but also several other minerals and nutrients that are essential for proper bone health.
Look for a stand-alone vitamin K1 product with each capsule containing 10 mg of Vitamin K1. Although there are no known side effects or toxicity with the administration of vitamin K1, it is important to point out that taking supplemental vitamin K may diminish the anti-coagulant benefits of drugs such as Coumadin. It is certainly safe to take supplemental vitamin K1 but if you are also taking an anti-coagulant, there may need to be some adjustment in the dosing schedule. As always, it is recommended that you discuss these matters with your personal physician.
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