Vitamin K deficiency is extremely common. Many people are not eating enough foods rich in vitamin K, or they are not metabolizing it into its active form due to poor gut health. The result is weaker bones that are at greater risk of fractures.

Increasing vitamin K levels can positively impact bone strength. These findings have come from a Polish study presented at the International Conference on Children’s Bone Health in Würzburg Germany. It was the first study to evaluate vitamin D and vitamin K2 levels in children who had suffered a low energy fracture. That means they broke a bone from falling from standing height or less.

The western diet typically provides very little vitamin K2. Small amounts are found in liver, pasture raised butter, some cheese (particularly Brie and Gouda), as well as natto. Vitamin K1 is present in green leafy vegetables and certain gut bacteria convert it into K2. The problem is a lot of people don’t have enough of those good gut bugs. A number of factors can be responsible, such as antibiotic use, bowel disease (eg. Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease) and high sugar diets. Osteocalcin is a protein present in bone that helps to build bones and strengthen them. It requires vitamin K2. Without adequate vitamin K2, bones are weak and fracture more easily.

This particular study analyzed vitamin K2 status in 20 children aged between 5 and 15 years who had suffered a fracture, and compared it to 19 children who hadn’t. Interestingly, in this study there wasn’t a significant difference in vitamin D levels among the two groups, but vitamin K2 levels differed greatly. This may have been because the children spent some time playing outside, and therefore obtained vitamin D through sunshine exposure.

A great deal of emphasis has been placed on vitamin D and its role in bone health and immunity in recent years. This is good, but vitamin K2 isn’t getting enough attention. For lifelong strong bones, you need adequate vitamin K2. If children are breaking bones as a result of deficiency, their future bone health doesn’t look good when they are elderly. Most people know that calcium is also necessary for strong bones. A lot of people are not able to digest cow’s milk well, therefore have switched to plant milk such as almond milk, which doesn’t contain calcium unless it has been fortified. The bones in canned sardines are an excellent source of calcium, but few people eat canned sardines regularly. Taking a calcium supplement can help ensure adequate intake.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.