Protect your bones with vitamin K


Tribune Media Services

If you want to preserve your bones as you age, don't skimp on vitamin-K rich foods, such as deep-green vegetables. While we usually think of calcium - found in dairy products, greens, and fortified products such as soy products - as the main nutrient essential for bone health, it's not the only one you need to maintain healthy bones.

Recent attention has focused on the potential for vitamin K (best known for its critical role in blood clot formation), to protect bones from osteoporosis, which can lead to fractures and disability as we age.

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Researchers have observed that people with low levels of circulating vitamin K tend to have low bone mineral density, and vitamin K supplementation improves markers of bone health. Data from the Nurses' Health Study, which included more than 72,000 women, found those who got at least 110 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K per day were 30 percent less likely to break a hip than women who got less.

U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers also found low vitamin K intake was associated with low bone mineral density in women involved in the Framingham Heart Study. And in a 2012 study that investigated data from the Postmenopausal Health Study II, groups receiving dairy products supplemented with two forms of vitamin K had more favorable changes in bone metabolism compared to the group that received nonsupplemented dairy products.

For optimal bone health, it's a good idea to achieve the recommended amounts of vitamin K in your diet through daily consumption of vitamin-K rich foods. The Institute of Medicine established the Adequate Intake for vitamin K at 90 mcg per day for women and 120 mcg for men.

However, if you're taking blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin), you need to be careful about maintaining a consistent level of vitamin K in your diet. You don't need to cut vitamin K out of your diet all together, but try to avoid abrupt increases and decreases in food sources.

Foods high in vitamin K

•Kale, cooked. Serving: 1/2 cup, 531 micrograms

•Spinach, cooked. Serving: 1/2 cup, 444 mcg

•Collards, cooked. Serving: 1/2 cup, 418 mcg

•Swiss chard, raw. Serving: 1 cup, 299 mcg

•Swiss chard, cooked. Serving: 1/2 cup, 287 mcg

•Mustard greens, raw. Serving: 1 cup. 279 mcg

•Turnip greens, cooked. Serving: 1/2 cup, 265 mcg

•Parsley, raw. Serving: 1/4 cup, 265 mcg

•Broccoli, cooked. Serving: 1 cup, 220 mcg

•Brussels sprouts, cooked. Serving: 1 cup, 219 mcg

•Mustard greens, cooked. Serving: 1/2 cup, 210 mcg

•Spinach, raw. Serving: 1 cup, 145 mcg

•Turnip greens, raw. Serving: 1 cup, 138 mcg

•Endive, raw. Serving: 1 cup, 116 mcg

•Cabbage, cooked. Serving: 1/2 cup, 82 mcg

•Green leaf lettuce. Serving: 1 cup, 71 mcg

•Prunes, stewed. Serving: 1 cup, 65 mcg

•Avocado. Serving: 1 cup, 30 to 48 mcg

•Tuna, canned in oil. Serving: 3 oz., 37 mcg

•Blueberries, blackberries, raw. Serving: 1 cup, 9 mcg

Source: National Institutes of Health

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