Most of us know the importance of getting enough calcium and vitamin D for bone health. But did you know that there is another vitamin that researchers now say plays a critical role in bone health? One that you should know about before you take one more calcium tablet.
But first, let’s take a look at what makes your bones healthy.
We typically reach peak bone mass by our early thirties. From then on it starts to decline as the rate that bone gets broken down overtakes the rate at which new bone tissue grows. Post-menopausal women are especially vulnerable to bone loss as they generally have less bone mass than men, and their loss of bone mass accelerates rapidly in the first few years after menopause. There are things you can do to help keep your bones healthy and slow the rate of bone loss. Exercise is one of them. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is another. Calcium is absolutely vital as it helps prevent bone loss and stabilise bone density. Vitamin D also helps to build healthy bones and is important for calcium absorption.
But here’s the catch… you might be getting plenty of calcium but how can you be sure it is getting to where it is most needed - your bones? And not going somewhere else in your body where it might do more harm than good?
That’s why Vitamin K2 is so important. It’s the missing link that helps get calcium to your bones.
How does Vitamin K2 improve the calcium-vitamin D team?
Simply put, Vitamin K2 acts like a light switch. It “turns on” two important proteins in your body - osteocalcin and MGP (matrix gla protein). Osteocalcin steers calcium - that crucial bone-building nutrient - into your bones and teeth where it supports healthy bone formation. And equally importantly, MGP, helps to steer calcium away from places it shouldn’t be, like your arteries. So by keeping calcium away from your blood vessels it helps to keep blood vessel walls flexible and supports your cardiovascular health.
By activating these two important proteins, vitamin K2 enables them to bind calcium and do their jobs. If there isn’t enough vitamin K2 in your bloodstream then osteocalcin and MGP are powerless and calcium just floats around aimlessly in your body.
Can you get enough vitamin K2 from your diet?
Probably not, unless you live in Japan, where it is readily available in a super slimy, sticky and rather smelly fermented soybean dish called natto, which is very much an acquired taste. Modern farming practices have led to a decline in availability (and an increase in price) of grass fed meat and dairy products, which were traditionally a good source of vitamin K2. And unless you eat a lot of fermented hard cheeses or goose liver pate, then you’re unlikely to be getting enough vitamin K2 from your diet alone.
Vitamin K2 from supplements
What if you’ve been spending every weekend visiting farmers’ markets but still can’t find an affordable and reliable source of grass-fed foods? What if you can only eat so much foie gras or Dutch Gouda? And what if you’ve tried and failed to appreciate natto? Then it’s time to talk supplements. Vitamin K2 supplements come in two main forms: MK-4 and MK-7. (The 4 or the 7 relate to their chemical structure.)
Both are good for you but it’s critical to understand the difference between them so that you know exactly what you’re paying for and that you’re taking the right amount.
MK-4 supplements versus MK-7 supplements
MK-4 supplements have been around for many years. They contain a synthetic form of vitamin K2 made from the tobacco plant. Don’t get me wrong – MK-4 is still a beneficial form of vitamin K2. Except for one major drawback. It has a very short ‘half-life’. This means it only stays in your bloodstream for a few hours. So you need to take it frequently and if you miss a day you’re back to square one. MK-7 supplements are the new vitamin K2 on the scene. They are sourced from natto and they have two big advantages* over MK-4 products.
Advantage #1: MK-7 has a much longer half-life in the body. Studies show it remains in the bloodstream for up to 72 hours, providing much more stable and long-lasting protection.
Advantage #2: Because MK-7 is longer-lasting, you need to take less of it than MK-4. An effective daily dose of MK-7 is around 120-180 micrograms, which you can get in just one tablet. Compare this to an MK-4 product where you would need to take daily doses in milligrams (a milligram is 1000 times bigger than a microgram) - and up to three tablets a day - to reap the same benefits!
Put the power of this extraordinary vitamin to work for you with Australian NaturalCare’s new Vitamin K2 180mcg.