As you may know by now, I’m always on the lookout for new, all-natural remedies for specific health issues that I can share with my patients and readers. One of the most exciting new research findings that I’ve come across recently involves the incredible benefits of a little known vitamin – vitamin K2 – and what it can do for your bones. Here’s what you should know:
Vitamin K2/MK-7 Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
There’s been a lot of buzz lately about vitamin K, specifically K2, and its previously under-appreciated health benefits. Let me break it down even further. There’s a specific type of vitamin K2 – methaquinone-7, or MK-7, that has come to the forefront of health news through osteoporosis research. However, the Japanese people have been reaping the good health benefits of this vitamin for centuries.
As far back as 1999, researchers in Japan’s University of Shizouka had found that MK-7 (found in natto, a popular Japanese food) helped prevent bone loss in lab animals with estrogen deficit due to the removal of their ovaries. Estrogen is protective against bone loss. When estrogen decreases in menopause, bones can become weaker and more prone to serious fractures, especially of the hip and forearm. The researchers concluded that K2/MK-7 could help postmenopausal women from developing osteoporosis.
Another more recent study from 2006 came out of the Kinki University in Osaka, Japan. Here, the Japanese Population Based Osteoporosis Study (JPOS) also found that Japanese women who frequently consumed natto had higher bone mineral densities of the bones of the hip (the femur) and of the forearm (radius). These are the bones most commonly broken in older women. The results were not the same using other soybean based foods like tofu or bean curd. As natto contains a much higher amount of MK-7, the researchers concluded that it was the MK-7 that gave the protective bone benefits.
In addition to helping prevent osteoporosis, vitamin K2/MK-7 had also been found to benefit heart health. It does this by improving the elasticity of arterial walls making them less prone to developing atherosclerosis – or hardening of the arteries –that can slow blood flow.
How Can You Reap The Benefits Of K2/MK-7?
One of the richest sources of vitamin K2-MK-7 is natto. Natto has been a popular breakfast food in Japan for almost 1,000 years. It is a fermented food made from soybeans. As I tell my patients, though, it may be an acquired taste. It is rather stringy in consistency and has a strong smell so it may take you a while to get used to. If you can acquire the taste for it, you’re bones and heart will love it.
If you can’t acquire the taste of natto, there are other, perhaps more palatable, sources of vitamin K2-MK-7 that include:
- Probiotic drinks – like Kefir. Found in the refrigerated dairy section of large grocery chains or health food stores.
- Sauerkraut – be sure it’s the stronger, lactobacillus fermented type that requires refrigeration.
- Fermented cheeses and dairy foods – like Edam cheese.
- Kimchi – a Korean fermented food.
- Organ meats like liver.
- Specific K2-MK-7 supplements. Follow dosage recommendations on label.
Helping my patients and readers stay healthy, especially as they get older, is very important to me. Osteoporosis is one of the critical issues that face older men and women as it puts them at increased risk for serious fractures and decreased mobility. That’s why I recommend optimal amounts of vitamin K2-MK-7 from either foods or supplements.
In addition, I also recommend bone-building exercise like weight training, walking/running on pavement/blacktop, jumping rope, playing baseball or basketball. Keeping your bones strong and healthy will help ensure that you stay active and living life to its fullest for as long as you live!
Mark Bromson, M.D.
Natural Health News
Intake of Fermented Soybeans, Natto, is associated with reduced bone loss in menopausal women: Japanese Population Based Osteoporosis Study, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16614424
Natto – Little Known Food with Big Benefits for your Heart and Skin, http://bodyecology.com/articles/natto-benefits-for-heart-and-skin.php