Most people are aware calcium is important for strong and healthy bones. However for healthy bones calcium needs to be deposited into them effectively. Vitamin K2 has been found to be a key nutrient that makes that happen. But what happens if the calcium you're getting from milk is ending up in the wrong place?
Question: How does calcium get deposited effectively for healthy bones?
Dr Hogne Vik: Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth but, in order for it to do this job, it needs help from vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 will activate the protein osteocalcin, which helps to direct calcium to bones and teeth, and therefore secures, develops and maintains bone density and bone strength. In the absence of vitamin K2, the calcium isn't directed to the right places and instead can end up deposited in the soft tissue in the arterial wall where it can cause build-ups and blockages. These blockages increase the risk of developing vascular diseases.
Question: What is Vitamin K2 deficiency?
Dr Hogne Vik: Vitamin K2 deficiency is when the body does not receive the daily amount of vitamin K2 - through diet or dietary supplements - needed to help direct and deposit calcium into bones and teeth. It is estimated that around 90% of the world's population has a vitamin K2 deficiency. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to receive enough vitamin K2 through our daily diet alone; therefore, we need to supplement with vitamin K2¹ as dietary supplements.
Question: How does Vitamin K2 deficiency affect us?
Dr Hogne Vik: The body needs vitamin K2 to build strong bones and, later on in life, to inhibit or postpone the loss of bone matrix and bone strength. Vitamin K2 also has an important impact on arteries, inhibiting calcium-storage in the arterial wall and thereby minimising the risk of developing atherosclerotic plaques and total occlusions of arteries. A person with a vitamin K2 deficiency may experience a loss of bone density and will also have an increased risk of developing vascular diseases².
Question: Where can we source Vitamin K2?
Dr Hogne Vik: Unfortunately, the body cannot produce vitamin K2 on its own². Vitamin K2 can be found in fermented food. The most common source in Western diets are fermented dairy products, such as cheese but, in order to obtain just 45 mcg of vitamin K2 daily, one would have to consume 80g of soft fermented cheeses or 59g of hard fermented cheeses. This isn't always possible, or recommended, which is why there may not be enough vitamin K2 in a normal Australian diet or other countries in the world.
The only exception would be some areas in Japan where people regularly eat the food called 'natto," a traditional fermented soybean dish that is a uniquely rich source of vitamin K2. However, the taste and texture of natto can be unpleasant to most Westerners.
Question: How can we ensure we don't have a Vitamin K2 deficiency?
Dr Hogne Vik: The recommended daily dosage of vitamin K2 is 180 micrograms². This can be achieved with daily supplementation, in combination with a healthy and balanced diet. However, before adding any supplement to your regimen, it is always recommended that you seek advice from your healthcare practitioner, as they will be most familiar with your specific health needs.
Question: Why do you believe Australians could benefit from a Japanese diet?
Dr Hogne Vik: Japanese foods, including natto and miso, are great sources of vitamin K2. Australians who eat foods similar to these Japanese foods, in combination with an abundance of vegetables and fish found in traditional Japanese diets, could absolutely enjoy health benefits.
Question: What are the four vitamins and minerals essential for strong bones and healthy arteries?
Dr Hogne Vik: Vitamin and mineral supplements shouldn't replace a healthy, balanced diet. We should always try to consume the daily requirements of vitamins and minerals through fresh foods. However, where this isn't possible, supplements can support our intake and ensure we are providing our bodies with the essential nutrients required to be as healthy as possible. Vitamins and minerals that can help to maintain strong bones include calcium, vitamin K2, magnesium, and vitamin D.
Question: Why is magnesium so important for women?
Dr Hogne Vik: Magnesium is an important mineral that may assist in bone formation and maintaining bone density. For women, magnesium may be of greater importance due to its potential to relieve mild premenstrual symptoms, especially muscle cramping and spasms, as well as supporting relaxation and sleep.³
For more information about vitamin K2 please visit www.blackmores.com.au
Dietary supplements should not replace a balanced diet. Please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner before considering the use of supplements.