“Drink your milk, it’s good for your bones!” is what most children are constantly reminded of by their parents. While calcium and vitamin D in milk are understood to support bone and heart health, there may be one nutrient overlooked.
Vitamin K is essential for a variety of bodily processes. Vitamin K1 is made by plants, retained in the liver and synthesizes clotting factors. Vitamin K2 functions easiest in longer chained forms given that they have longer half-lives and remain in circulation for a longer period of time. These vitamin K molecules are commonly referred to as menaquinones and are found in lipoproteins which set into circulation. They allow for calcium homeostasis and transport.
Osteocalcin is a calcium-binding protein in the blood that takes calcium from the blood to the bone matrix. Matrix Gla is another calcium-binding blood protein that is activated by vitamin K. The USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University concluded from studies that 50% of osteocalcin is uncarboxylated, or inactivated, because of a deficiency in vitamin K. In result of this, calcium deposits may form in the blood.
Vitamin K2 has been known to decrease one’s chance of heart disease. Erasmus Medical Center in a Rotterdam study proves that with a higher level of menaquinones, fewer deaths occur from heart disease and circulation conditions. Vitamin K2 is involved with osteoporosis as well, according to an Emory University study. Menaquinones facilitate pro-anabolic and anti-catabolic effects on bone cells and suppress the molecule responsible for controlling the inflammatory process.
Calcium and vitamin D play an important role in the functioning of vitamin K. Vitamin D allows calcium absorption. In turn, vitamin K can then be transported from the blood to the bone tissue. When vitamin D is activated, osteocalcin is regulated for transporting calcium.
Vitamin K1 is mostly found in leafy green vegetables whereas menaquinones are in organ meats, egg yolks, and dairy products. Adults should consume about 90 milligrams of vitamin K per day. A deficiency in vitamin K can be brought on by the use of antibiotics for a significant period of time.
While parents may be correct in urging their children to drink their milk for calcium and vitamin D, they must be aware of other nutrients that are essential for proper heart and bone health.