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Vitamin K2 May Help Make Bones Stronger

As we age, our bones become more brittle, which can lead to dangerous and debilitating breaks. A recent study suggests that taking a vitamin K2 (in the MK-4 form) supplement may improve bone mass density in postmenopausal women.

Participants in the study that took the K2 supplement had lower levels of undercarboxylated osteocalcin (ucOC) and pentosidine at the end of the study period. Previous studies have found a link between high levels of ucOC and pentosidine and increased risk of hip fracture in mature women.

Participants in the study included 48 Japanese women between the ages of 50 and 65. For a one year period, half of the group took 1.5 mg of vitamin K2 while the other half took a placebo. The researchers measured ucOC and pentosidine levels at the onset of the study, the six month mark, and at the conclusion.

At the beginning of the study, all of the participants had relatively high levels of ucOC. At six and twelve months, however, the supplement group had significantly lower levels than the placebo group.

The control group saw no significant change in pentosidine levels, however levels in the supplement group were significantly lower than baseline levels.

The researchers also noted that the control group had lower forearm bone mass density at 12 months than at six months. There was no significant decrease in bone mass density in the supplement group.

Researchers from the National Institute of Health in Japan conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on May 24, 2013.

Previous studies have linked vitamin K to bone and cardiovascular health and a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Vitamin K comes in two main forms: K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinones). Vitamin K1 is found in green leafy vegetables and makes up about 90% of the vitamin K consumption in a western diet.

Vitamin K2 is harder to come by and therefore makes up only 10% of consumption. It is most common in fermented foods like cheese but can also be found in meat and soybeans. Both vitamin K1 and K2 are also available in supplement form.

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