Vitamin K Benefits Could Increase Your Quality of Life
Vitamin K and Calcium
Vitamin K and calcium are micronutrients from our diet, and provide vital services to our body. Because we need these micronutrients, and because we can only get vitamin k benefits from our diet, it is essential that we have proper amounts available.
Supplementation may be needed to help your body get the optimal amount if you have certain conditions that affect nutrient uptake, including Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), celiac disease, lactose intolerance, Crohn’s disease, and IBS, just to name a few. These conditions affect how nutrients are absorbed. If Vitamin K and calcium are not absorbed efficiently, they are not able to provide their full spectrum of functions, and issues in the body start to rise.
Calcium provides the structure and support for our body, from our bones to our teeth. Calcium also provides the necessary capabilities to allow electric signaling to happen in our bodies. Electrical signaling allows for the release of neurotransmitters and hormones, which is how the body communicates to achieve certain functions. Without calcium, our body would have no structure, or communication. Vitamin K benefits provide the catalyst to bind calcium and make it usable for our bones. We will discuss both in this article.
Vitamin K benefits effect on bones
Our bones are the storage centers for calcium. The mineral calcium reacts with osteocalcin (osteo means bone) to allow calcium to bind with hydroxyapatite and create the bone matrix. If calcium is needed elsewhere in the body, an osteoclast is the cell that breaks down the bone matrix and releases the usable calcium. This process is monitored by several processes in our body, and one to note is the hormone estrogen. Estrogen helps the body absorb calcium in our intestines, and helps build a stronger bone matrix. Bone formation is a constant ongoing process. Osteoblasts create bone and osteoclasts break down bone to provide the body with calcium. Usually, this process is ongoing and balanced. As calcium is built into bone, calcium is also released for use in the body.
The constant rebuilding and turnover keeps our bones healthy. The more we use our bones, such as in impact exercise like running or walking, the more our bones are remodeled, but also the more calcium is needed. This is why, if a healthcare provider suspects low bone density, exercise is suggested as a way to build bone strength. How do you build bone if not enough calcium is getting into your system? In order for this process to work and be in balance, sufficient calcium must be available to make new bone, sufficient estrogen must be available to absorb the calcium, and sufficient vitamin K needs to be absorbed in the body. Remember that strong bones is a function of other nutrients as well, including magnesium, vitamin D, collagen, strontium, and vitamin K.
Vitamin K benefits play a key role in bone remodeling, as well as maintaining the blood clotting cascade in our body. Coagulation is the process by which blood clots form so that excessive bleeding doesn’t occur after a cut, or a bloody nose. Vitamin K benefits are essential to this process. Another function of Vitamin K, which we will focus on here, is the creation of osteocalcin. As mentioned above, osteocalcin is in the pathway of bone formation. Osteocalcin binds to calcium to activate the bone remodeling process. Vitamin K benefits control how much osteocalcin is available in our body, which in turn determines how much calcium can go to bone density maintenance.
Vitamin K benefits and calcium are essential to bone development, but also to other crucial functions in our body as mentioned previously. If either of them are deficient, it affects the formation of bone, but also the effectiveness of their other functions. Therefore, it is essential that enough of both are available.
Vitamin K and Calcium Deficiencies with Age
For women, estrogen plays a large role in bone structure. Estrogen helps manage bone formation, calcium absorption, and bone density. As women age, and especially as they enter menopause, estrogen levels decrease. Bone density decreases as estrogen levels fall, because it is harder to get calcium into and around our system. This is one of the reasons why postmenopausal women are most at risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis means extremely low bone density; this poses an increased risk for fractures. Why do we care about bone fractures? They are the most common cause of hospitalizations among the elderly.
In the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system, which is how your body deals with stress, many systems can become deregulated. One such deregulation that can arise is Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). When a person has adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalances are common, such as progesterone, and estrogen. When the adrenal glands are malfunctioning, these reproductive hormone levels can vary greatly. Estrogen levels may be low or high depending on the state of the adrenals, and the same with progesterone. Reproductive disruptions such as first trimester miscarriage, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, and PMS are commonly associated with various stages of AFS. As such, calcium levels may vary greatly in the body as well.
Let us take a closer look on how AFS can affect hormones. The initial stages of adrenal fatigue show high levels of cortisol. Cortisol comes from pregnenolone, the mother of all hormones, In the initial stages of adrenal fatigue, our body demands high levels of cortisol. To make more cortisol, all the building blocks of the other hormones (like progesterone ) are shunted in the pathway so that more cortisol can be made. This means that as more cortisol is produced, less progesterone and other hormones are available in our body. With less progesterone , estrogen becomes unopposed, leading to a condition known as estrogen dominance. Symptoms include fibrocystic breast, PMS, and fibroids, just to mention a few. As adrenal fatigue progresses to advanced stages, the glands become exhausted after peak cortisol output has been reached. Cortisol synthesis begins to drop as fatigue worsens and hormonal imbalance becomes more deregulated as the body loses the anti-fimallatmory and stabilizing properties of cortisol. This in turn can affect calcium absorption and estrogen balance. Estrogen can be in excess in relative terms but deficient in absolute terms, and the decline can mimics the effects of menopause, without the actual onset of menopause, and affect our bone density.
Are there ways to protect our bone density? During growth and development is the most important time to increase bone density, this is from birth until our 20s. While it is important to grow bone density while we are young and developing, if you are over the age of thirty, it is still a good idea to get sufficient levels of calcium and exercise, to prevent excessive bone density loss. By getting sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin K benefits, you can reduce the onset risk of osteoporosis, even if it might be past the time to build bone density. Always remember that magnesium also plays a critical role in bone formation.
Vitamin K benefits are important in this process because it controls the calcium that goes into our bones for a healthy bone matrix. Our body cannot make or store vitamin K, so we need to get all the amounts we can from our diet. Vitamin K is available in leafy greens, such as kale, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts. While we probably eat these in our diet, the amount might not be sufficient. This has consequences on our bone health and how our body handles micronutrient deficiencies overtime.
It should be noted that in advanced stages of adrenal fatigue, the body is often overwhelmed and congested. In these bodies, any unnecessary supplementation can often serve to further overload the body and can make you feel worse. As such, while calcium and vitamin K may be beneficial to bone health and anti-aging, in advanced adrenal fatigue it may not be the appropriate setting to start supplementing it. Calcium can be calming in some people but generally becomes excitatory the more advanced the state of AFS. Those with heart palpitation, or already in an anxious state, may feel worse as it can triggers irregular heartbeats.
Vitamin K and Calcium Deficiencies
Fortunately, our body has a unique way of handling essential and vital functions in times of stress. At times, this adaptation can come at the expense of other functions. True calcium and vitamin K deficiency is therefore rare.
Vitamin K, as mentioned above, is essential for blood coagulation and bone formation. With sufficient levels of vitamin K, the body can maintain blood homeostasis to prevent excessive bleeding, and strengthen bone through calcium control. If, however, vitamin k levels are low, bone health may be compromised as blood coagulation is the body’s priority. Clinically detectable low levels of vitamin K do not present themselves until bleeding issues occur. These symptoms include the ability to bruise easily, excessive bloody noses, and thinning blood. This is excessively low vitamin K. The levels we are discussing are just below normal functioning, which means that instead of getting the bleeding and bruising symptoms, our bone density and bone health is affected.
The same holds true for calcium. Calcium is essential to act as a buffer to ensure the pH of our biosystem is stable and maintained in a narrow range. If the body is in an acidic state, calcium will automatically be leached from the bones, into the circulation, to increase pH. The reverse also happens.This dynamic process goes on 24/7.
When enough micronutrient levels are available and properly balanced, our body is able to function with all processes working well and in balance. If nutrient levels are low, even if we aren’t showing signs or symptoms of low levels, functions that might be considered non-essential are being affected. While they are non-essential in the short term, the dysfunction is notable as in the case of lowered bone density and fracture risk.
Calcium supplements, along with vitamin K help decrease the rate of bone density loss, and help prevent the risk of fractures. Vitamin K controls calcium binding to osteocalcin, which then binds to hydroxyapatite. These form the bone matrix. Without sufficient vitamin K benefits, calcium cannot bind and form the bone matrix. These functions are uniquely tied together and work in unison to improve bone health.
It is important to know that too much calcium consumption can also build up in joints, heart valves, arteries, breast, and prostate. A lot of food in today’s society is already fortified with calcium, so it might not be needed to take additional supplements. What most people might actually benefit from is Vitamin D3 because this vitamin allows better bone health and increases the calcium in the body. It is also beneficial to take Vitamin K2 with the Vitamin D3 because it helps put the calcium into the bones and teeth rather than just stay in the blood. Collagen and strontium are additional natural compounds that can help support healthy bones.
Beneficial bacteria in our gut that help us create the more useful form of vitamin K. This is another example of how our body is connected as a unit. We must ensure proper gut function, to ensure overall health. This is also true for absorption of nutrients. If we suffer from intestinal distress or other chronic diseases that affect our body’s ability to absorb nutrients, our whole system is affected. We must address those concerns and ensure proper absorption before any change in diet or supplement intake is able to improve function in other parts of our body.
Another supplement that is very beneficial for not only the bones, but the gut and nerves, is Magnesium. Many people today are deficient in magnesium because they don’t receive enough of it in their diet. As the balance between calcium and magnesium is like a seesaw, when calcium is overloaded, magnesium is deficient. Magnesium has been shown to stimulate the thyroid’s production of calcitonin, a bone-preserving hormone, and the parathyroid hormone, which regulates the breaking down of bones. Magnesium is an essential cofactor to convert Vitamin D into its active form, so it’s important for calcium balance to also have adequate levels of magnesium. If you are taking calcium, supplements with magnesium use a one to one ratio. If you are taking 500 mg of calcium, for example, supplement with 500 mg of magnesium also. One note of caution: excessive magnesium can cause harmless diarrhea. In some, especially those with advanced AFS, magnesium can cause a paradoxical stimulatory reaction instead of its normal calming and relaxing affect. Excessive calcium can trigger cardiac arrhythmia.
Vitamin K, Magnesium, and Vitamin D should be taken by pre and post-menopausal women to help slow the rate of bone density decline, which helps reduce the risk of fractures. Vitamin K is fat soluble, but there is little reported about the toxicity of excess vitamin K. Because of the role vitamin K benefits play in blood coagulation, you should not take a vitamin K supplement if you are taking blood thinning medication or have a history of blood coagulation issues. You should consult your healthcare provider to ensure that the supplements are addressing the needs of your body, and you are getting the expected result without adverse side effects.
McCann, J. Ames, B. 2009. “Vitamin K, an example of triage theory: is micronutrient inadequacy linked to disease of aging?” Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/4/889.full#sec-4
Weber, P. 2001. “Vitamin K and Bone Health.” Retrieved from http://www.nutritionjrnl.com/article/S0899-9007(01)00709-2/abstract
Braam, L.A. 2003. “Vitamin K1 Supplementation Retards Bone Loss in Postmenopausal Women Between 50 and 60 years of age.” Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00223-002-2084-4
Bugel, S. 2003. “Vitamin K and Bone Health.” Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15018483
Feskanich, D. 1997. “Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study.” Retrieved from http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.87.6.992
Pizzorno, J. 2007. “Vitamin K- Keeping calcium in your bones and out of your blood vessels.” http://blogs.webmd.com/integrative-medicine-wellness/11/vitamin-k-keeping-calcium-in-your-bones-and-out-of-your-blood-vessels.html
© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
What a wonderful website you have. I just became aware of it tonight. You have so much valuable information.