The Importance Of Vitamin K For Women

vitamin k

Menopause Kuel Thought Leader: Lorraine Miano

You may not have heard about Vitamin K.

Many doctors are not even aware of its importance. Did you know that poor Vitamin K intake is linked to low bone mass, osteoporosis, and fracture risk?  This is especially significant for women as according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF.org), being female puts you at risk of developing osteoporosis and broken bones. As well, approximately, one in two women over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis, and a woman’s risk of breaking a hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.

Did you know that poor Vitamin K intake is linked to low bone mass, osteoporosis, and fracture risk? “

Doing The Research:

It was not until recently (the past three years), that I discovered the importance of Vitamin K during research I was doing on women’s health and osteoporosis. Vitamin K has always been known for its effects on blood clotting. In fact, its name comes from the German word koagulation. Vitamin K also plays an important role in controlling bone metabolism according to research, as it is essential for synthesizing the protein, osteocalcin, for maintaining bone strength. Vitamin K comes in two forms: K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone). You can find Vitamin K in foods such as green leafy and cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, and Brussel sprouts. Although Vitamin K2 is primarily produced by bacteria in the gut, it is also found in small amounts in dairy products, grass-fed meats, and in greater amounts in a few fermented foods like the Japanese soybean product natto, as well as in some cheeses.

More Protection:

 Vitamin K2 protects the bones more than K1, and according to AmericanBoneHealth.org, Women who consumed less than 109 mcg of Vitamin K per day were found to be more likely to break a hip. Low vitamin K intake has also been linked to increased risk of hip fractures in men and women and low bone density in women.”

*Note: if you are on Warfarin or any other anticoagulant drug, DO NOT TAKE VITAMIN K without a doctor’s guidance

As it turns out, two months ago I was diagnosed with osteoporosis of my left hip. Although I had been taking Vitamin K2 since learning about it, evidently it wasn’t soon enough. (We must educate our daughters from a young age about it!) Once I received the diagnosis, I thought for sure my primary care doc would suggest I take it with my Vitamin D3 (they work together). However, not only did she not suggest I take K2 at all…but her recommendation was that I start taking a calcium supplement and a bisphosphonate drug such as Fosamax or Boniva (which is used to treat and prevent certain types of bone loss).

Research Pays:

I already knew that calcium is a no-no!”

The researcher that I am, I already knew that calcium is a no-no! Studies link it with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease in otherwise healthy post-menopausal women. By the way…cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of women. So, is it possible that our undereducated doctors are potentially killing us? As well, studies show that calcium does absolutely nothing to prevent the risk of fractures.

According to the National Library of MedicineAdvocacy for the use of calcium supplements arose at a time when there were no other effective interventions for the prevention of osteoporosis. Their promotion was based on the belief that increasing calcium intake would increase bone formation. Our current understandings of the biology of bone suggest that this does not occur, though calcium does act as a weak antiresorptive. Thus, it slows postmenopausal bone loss but, despite this, recent meta-analyses suggest no significant prevention of fractures. In sum, there is little substantive evidence of benefits to bone health from the use of calcium supplements. Against this needs to be balanced the likelihood that calcium supplement use increases cardiovascular events, kidney stones, gastrointestinal symptoms, and admissions to hospital with acute gastrointestinal problems. Thus, the balance of risk and benefit seems to be consistently negative.”

And as far as Fosamax goes…. some of the possible side effects, although rare, include gastrointestinal problems, severe jawbone problems, femur fractures, and esophageal ulcers. Uh, no thanks.

Vitamin K:

I’d prefer to take my Vitamin D3 and K2 thank you! Once I discovered its benefits, I thought, why aren’t doctors more knowledgeable about this important vitamin?? I found a study from The National Library of Medicine that states this: “In the past decade, it has become evident that vitamin K has a significant role to play in human health that is beyond its well-established function in blood clotting. There is a consistent line of evidence in human epidemiologic and intervention studies that clearly demonstrates that vitamin K can improve bone health. The human intervention studies have demonstrated that vitamin K can not only increase bone mineral density in osteoporotic people but also actually reduce fracture rates. Further, there is evidence in human intervention studies that vitamins K and D, a classic in bone metabolism, work synergistically on bone density.” 

THIS STUDY WAS FROM 2001!!!!! That is over 20 YEARS AGO! Why oh why is women’s health SO FAR BEHIND!! Why are doctors still recommending women take calcium supplements when they increase the risk of cardiovascular disease??…the #1-woman killer of women? Mind-boggling at the very least. A tragedy for sure!

If you are a woman of any age, please talk with your healthcare provider about supplementing with Vitamin D3 and K2, as well as educating our younger generations now. Early prevention of osteoporosis is of the utmost importance. Make no bones about it. 

Please Note: This is NOT medical advice nor should it be used as such. Our hope is that you have information to take to your medical practitioner for an open dialogue on your health care needs.

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About the Author:

As a post-menopausal woman herself, Lorraine Miano discovered her passion of offering menopause advocacy, support and resources to women in all phases of menopause through health coaching, proper nutrition and preventive lifestyle choices. She received her certifications as a Health Coach and hormone health expert from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She has been able to help even more women by writing and publishing her first book, The Magic of Menopause: A Holistic Guide to Get Your Happy Back!
Lorraine loves to encourage her clients with her mantra “Menopause is NOT an ending! IT IS a new beginning!” When she’s not advocating for “the change”, you can find Lorraine traveling with her husband Richard, quite often to visit her 5 grandchildren who call her “Nonni”.