Calcium + D & K = Stronger Bones

While the relationship between calcium and strong bones is commonly understood, many people are unaware of the benefits of vitamin D and even fewer about the importance of vitamin K.

Extending upon an earlier meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that taking vitamin D alone imparted no significant protection to bones. However, when combined with calcium, supplementation with vitamin D reduced hip fractures in the elderly by nearly one quarter.

Last year, a Michigan School of Nursing study found that pre-menopausal woman may also benefit from additional vitamin K.

Though vitamin K is most commonly associated with its role in normal blood clotting, this fat-soluble vitamin is involved with bone mineral accretion too. In fact, impaired vitamin K function is an early sign of the declining estrogen levels that accompany menopause. When vitamin K stores are insufficient (as was the case with the women in this study), osteocalcin, a protein that binds to calcium in the bone, does not function maximally. This can contribute to more brittle bones later in life.

The Bigger Picture: Diets rich in milk, cheese, fish, eggs, and green leafy vegetables offer a great means of meeting your daily calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K needs. For those of you who don't consume dairy due to allergies or intolerances or subsist on a regular regimen of fast foods and vending machine offerings, a daily multivitamin & mineral supplement may also be beneficial. Your daily targets for calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K should be 1,000-1,200 mg, 400-800 IU, and 80-150 mcg, respectively, from a combination of foods, beverages, and dietary supplements. NOTE: If you are on blood thinning medications, consult your physician before increasing your intake of vitamin K-rich foods or taking a multivitamin fortified with vitamin K.
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