The Missing Link In Osteoporosis Prevention: Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 plays an important role in regulating calcium balance, influencing your bone and heart health – so why is it that no one talks about it?
Interview with Kathleen Alleaume
Question: What message would you like to spread this World Osteoporosis Day?
Kathleen Alleaume: This World Osteoporosis Day, we really want Australians to recognise the importance of taking preventative measures to safeguard their bone health. Small steps now can have a great impact on long-term health and prevent the loss of bone mass density and developing bone conditions like osteoporosis. Bones are quite literally the support framework of the body, and with 206 of them, it's no wonder they need some TLC!
Question: Can you tell us about the benefits of Vitamin K2?
Kathleen Alleaume: Vitamin K2 helps the body in the constant effort to rebuild your skeleton. Osteocalcin is the main protein responsible for this process by taking calcium from the blood and binding it to the bones. Without Vitamin K2, these proteins remain inactive. Put simply, Vitamin K2 helps the body transport calcium from the arteries to the bones, where it belongs.
Another well understood advantage of Vitamin K2 is its ability to reduce the calcification of arteries. Arterial calcification is the build-up of calcium within vascular smooth muscle cells in artery walls, and occurs when the body receives too much calcium without certain other cofactors. By facilitating the transport of calcium, Vitamin K2 ensures that calcium isn't left to harden in the arteries.
Question: How does Vitamin K2 aid in preventing Osteoporosis?
Kathleen Alleaume: Studies have shown that the impact of Vitamin K2 quite significant, with 45mg of Vitamin K2 each day potentially leading to a 55% reduction in the amount of inactive osteocalcin in the body. By having a healthy intake of Vitamin K2, you fuel osteocalcin so that it will constantly strengthen your bones.
Question: Why do you think no one talks about Vitamin K2 even though it's as essential as Vitamin B, C and D?
Kathleen Alleaume: Until recently, calcium and vitamin D have been the only associated nutrients for better bone health. As the body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones, this continued to be the -go-to' vitamin of choice.
However, an emerging body of research is beginning to confirm many of the earlier theories on Vitamin K2 – and why it is a missing link in bone health. By transporting calcium away from the walls of blood vessels and to the bones, where it is actually needed, bones are kept stronger for longer.
Question: What foods contain Vitamin K2?
Kathleen Alleaume: Vitamin K2 can be found in animal foods, such as some types of cheese, and fermented foods like natto (fermented soybeans). As always, it's best to get your vitamins and minerals from a balanced diet first, however it can be hard to get enough K2 because the richest sources aren't staples in Australia. If fermented foods are inaccessible, then supplementation is a valid alternative. Always speak to your doctor before taking supplementation.
Question: Is it important that we take a supplement of Vitamin K2?
Kathleen Alleaume: As western diets do not provide us with enough Vitamin K2, a healthy dosage of supplementation may be recommended. Certain groups of people will benefit more than others from increasing their intake (women approaching menopause and the elderly) however, clinical research and extensive literature indicates 180mcg daily is the optimum dose.
Question: What are the hidden impacts of menopause that relate to World Osteoporosis Day?
Kathleen Alleaume: Due to the drop in oestrogen level experienced during menopause, many women are at risk of developing osteoporosis. As we age, women in particular, tend to experience a decline in bone density which may lead to bone loss or brittle bones. The female hormone oestrogen plays an important role in maintaining bone strength, consequently increased risk of developing weaker bone and therefore an increase risk of bone fractures.
Question: Can you share with us five exercises we can do at home to protect our heart and bones?
Kathleen Alleaume: Weight bearing exercises
As the name suggests, weight bearing exercises are a group of activities that are performed while on your feet, meaning you bear your own body weight. Because of the weight-bearing force involved with these actions, it is arguably the best form of exercise for helping to preserve bone density and build bone strength. Jump rope, jogging on the spot and aerobic dance are all great examples of weight bearing exercises.
Body weight training
Technically referred to as calisthenics, body weight exercises are a simple, cheap and effective way to increase body strength and improve balance and flexibility. They don't require machinery or extra equipment and involve movements such as pulling or pushing yourself up using only body weight for resistance. Examples include push-ups, chair dips, lunges, wall sits or stair climbing.
Another term for exercises using an external force to stimulate muscle contraction, leading to increases in muscle size, strength, endurance and tone. Resistance training is generally conducted through the use of equipment like dumbbells or resistance bands, which can be easily purchased from your local sporting goods store. These exercises are great at increasing bone mineral density, which is essential in preventing the decline in bone mass and aging-associated diseases such as osteopenia (lower bone density) and osteoporosis (brittle bones). Other benefits include reduced risk of falls (via improved balance and flexibility) and preventing further muscle mass loss.
Isometric exercises help strengthen and tone muscles without joint or muscle movement and can be performed with or without added resistance. Some ideal exercises include planks, wall sits, glut bridges or warrior poses. One of the great things about isometric training is that it takes minimal time and requires no equipment at all!
Many people turn to yoga or pilates as a way to exercise gently, reduce tension and improve joint flexibility and balance. It can also help to improve muscle strength as some poses are held for a longer amount of time (similar to isometric training). The Navasana, Uttplutih, Bakasana poses are perfect for maximising strength and flexibility.
Interview by Brooke Hunter