(The following is an excerpt from the new book The Bone-Building Solution, published by John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd., 2006)
Osteoporosis and unhealthy bones are more rampant in affluent countries than in poorer countries that still eat a lot of natural green colour-coded foods. In 2005, the rural Chinese population had only 15 percent of the osteoporosis rates of wealthy North America or Europe.
When you eat any green colour-coded food like broccoli, lettuce, parsley, or a “green drink” that has gone through the miracle of photosynthesis (making our vital oxygen as a waste product and consuming our deadly, exhaled carbon dioxide as a fuel), you are getting, among other things, lots of vitamin K1. You should ideally consume a minimum of 120 mcg of vitamin K1 daily.
Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, is found in any green vegetable containing the green pigment chlorophyll and its water-soluble derivative, chlorophyllin. Vitamin K1, in the presence of “friendly” probiotic bacteria in the intestines, is converted into the more biologically active form called K2, or menaquinones. K2 is found in egg yolk, butter, and fermented soy foods.
Vitamin K2 helps the body turn “on” biological switches that activate three critical proteins — osteocalcin, calcitonin (made by the thyroid gland), and matrix Gla — in a biochemical process called gamma-carboxylation. Osteocalcin, calcitonin, and matrix Gla are calcium-binding proteins that are absolutely essential for guiding calcium into the bone-building osteoblast cells of bones, making strong bone tissues, and preventing osteoporosis. If you do not have sufficient vitamin K2 status, calcium may deposit in soft tissues like your arteries, heart, and brain and cause strokes, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Vitamin K2 simultaneously reduces the risk of osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, and memory loss.
The journal Nutrition quoted the Rotterdam study of 4,983 men and women, from 1990 until 2002, which emphasized that vitamin K2 helps to protect against heart disease and memory loss. The September 2003 issue of International Journal of Oncology revealed that treating lung cancer patients with vitamin K2 slowed the growth of cancer cells.
The main message is to eat lots of deep-green vegetables, parsley, cilantro, watercress, culinary herbs, and “green drinks” daily. (Side Note: Bitter greens like dandelions, which are filled with super-critical vitamin K1, micronutrients, and phytonutrients are revered in China, but regarded as unwanted weeds in North America.)
•Boosts the formation of healthy bones
•Helps maintain healthy bones
•Slows and may even stop bone loss
•Speeds up the healing of fractures
•Helps maintain the membranes of our cells
•Is a major influence in blood clotting
•Aids in fat synthesis
The body also makes its own vitamin K2. It is manufactured by bacteria in the small intestine, and because antibiotics can kill those bacteria, many researchers feel that this explains the connection between antibiotic use and damage to our bones. If you have been taking antibiotics for an extended period of time, you might want to discuss this potential problem with your doctor. It is also interesting to note that a large-scale study published in the July 2004 journal Canadian Family Physician found that women who received more than 100 mcg of vitamin K1 a day were almost one third less likely to fracture a hip than those who had less vitamin K1 in their diet.
The ancient “cell-friendly” foods that are colour-coded green are the richest source of vitamin K. Until recently, vitamin K had been seen strictly as a pro-clotting factor. We now know that vitamin K is the only vitamin shown to keep calcium from going into and hardening in arteries, and that it chaperones or guides calcium into the matrix of the bone.
HERE ARE SOME RECENT RESEARCH FINDINGS:
1. Dr. Richard Wood published research in December 2002 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrating that vitamin K2 boosts the gamma-carboxylation of various bone-building proteins that chaperone and deposit calcium in bones, and stops calcium from depositing as coronary plaque in our arteries causing heart attacks.
2. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, in 2000, stated that suboptimal levels of vitamin K2 raised the risk of heart attacks 2.4 times — as much as smoking.
3. In 2003 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proved that vitamin K2 increased levels of and biologically upregulated the proteins osteocalcin, calcitonin, and matrix Gla protein (MGP) — three powerful “chaperones” escorting dietary calcium ions into cyclic bone-building — ratcheting up healthy bone-building all life long.
4. In August 2005 the journal Nutritional Review printed research that vitamin K was important in healthy bone-building function of young girls aged three to 16 years.
5. In August 2005 the American Journal of Health Systems Pharmacology concluded that vitamin K2 prevented weak bones, osteoporosis, and arterial calcification
6. A Harvard Medical School study, published in the April 2005 edition of Clinical Calcium, demonstrated the efficacy of vitamin K2 to prevent bone loss and reduce the rate of vertebral fractures.
7. In January 2006 the Archives of Internal Medicine proved that warfarin (Courmadin), an anti-coagulant drug that works by interfering with the role of vitamin K2 in blood clotting (when used for more than a year) led to a 25 percent increased risk in vertebral fractures and a 160 percent increased risk in rib fractures.
Vitamin K1 is a fat-soluble (lipophilic) nutrient and is not stored in our bodies. The source is rich-green leafy veggies or “green drinks” that also increase polyphenols and alkalinity, reducing corrosive acidity and lowering elevated cortisol stress hormone levels.
Osteoporosis and artery disease (heart disease and stroke) are known to be epidemiologically related; one comes with the other as both have a common basis — low vitamin K2 levels.
With sufficient K2, calcium (Ca2+) as free bloodstream calcium will deposit in bones. With low-level K2, calcium will deposit in soft tissues (such as kidneys, lungs, and brain cells), and in the interior of arterial or vascular blood vessel walls in the heart, organs and glands.
Low levels of inherited lipoprotein apoE4 gene + low vitamin K2 + inflammation + beta amyloid (gooey glycation) + oxidative stress = Alzheimer’s disease and mental dementia.
K2 ultimately ignites proteins to chaperone calcium into bones and out of soft tissues. Neither calcium nor vitamin D3 can produce healthy bone without K1.
Robert Wood, PhD., of Tufts University, who directs the Mineral Bioavailability Lab at the USDA Human Nutrition Center on Aging, reported in the December 2002 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that vitamin K is a limiting factor in the gamma-carboxylation of various bone-regulating proteins. Dr. Wood’s research demonstrates that vitamin K2 is a cofactor in the chemical reaction that adds the carboxyl group (COOH) to glutamate (carboxylation), making it possible for bone-regulating proteins such as osteocalcin, matrix Gla protein (gamma-carboxyglutamate called MGP), and the thyroid –released hormone calcitonin, to bind calcium. MGP, when properly carboxylated, is a potent inhibitor of soft tissue calcification. Dr. Wood points out that a substantial part of the North American population is deficient in vitamin K.
WHY GRANDMA AND GRANDPA NEVER EXPERIENCED OSTEOPOROSIS
Just as with heart disease, the underlying rise in the “silent epidemic” of osteoporosis after menopause or andropause may not be primarily due to a lack of estrogen or testosterone. Although bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can slow the loss of bone that leads to debilitating spine curvatures and hip fractures, hormones only delay the process and can’t fix it. Physicians have long known corticosteroids will induce rapid bone loss. Well, it turns out that another mediator of the development of osteoporosis is overproduction of pro-inflammatory prostaglandine 2 (PGE2), leukotrienes, and cytokines — “bad” types of prohormones. These system-wide communication prohormones encourage overstimulation of the osteoclast (bone-breakdown) cells, leading to weak, porous bones.
Dr. Bruce Wadkins, at Purdue University, and Professor Bruce Holub, PhD., of the University of Guelph, have demonstrated that high-dose fish oil supplementation rich in “mood smart” EPA and “bone-smart” DHA has the ability to significantly decrease bone loss by decreasing PGE2 levels. Another method to reduce PGE2 overproduction is to reduce stress in your life (reducing the stress hormone levels of cortisol) and to stabilize insulin levels (since stable blood sugar levels lower your body’s production of excess cortisol) by eating fewer sugars and sweetened foods. You can further reduce PGE2 by becoming alkaline.
Your grandparents’ bones didn’t turn to dust, probably because their diet was similar to the current recommendations in this book. They used cod liver oil instead of pharmaceuticals-grade fish oil, and ate lots of green vitamin K1-rich foods, consumed fermented foods to convert K1 to its biologically active form K2, got natural sunshine on their skin (producing sufficient amounts of vitamin D3), and they walked daily and did manual chores that challenged their bones to adapt by becoming stronger. They also ate a micronutrient diet full of critical, alkalinizing calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and bone-building cofactors. Their diets did not contain all the processed foods — the foods of modern commerce — that make our modern-day diets far too acidifying, which leaches calcium or potassium from the bones to buffer or neutralize the overproduction of acids by acting as acid sponges, leaving weak, porous bones.
THE DANGERS OF ACIDIFICATION: DISSOLVING CRITICAL BACKBONES
To give you a clearer understanding of why your teeth, nails, and bones become weak and brittle from the age of 24 onward, we need to understand the dangers of acidification. When we consume processed, fast, convenience foods and forego our traditional salads, vegetables, fruits, berries, whole grains, and the recent addition of “green drinks”, our bodies’ biochemical processes become exposed; are are “under siege” by acidification.
To counter the potential modern day physical destruction caused by repeatedly consuming caustic, acid-forming foods, your bones break down and dissolve, releasing calcium, potassium, and sodium from the bone matrix to form chemical buffers or anti-acids called bicarbonates to soak up and neutralize the acids. The result – weka bones, poor tooth enamel quality, brittle nails, kidney stones, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and a dissolving backbone.
The American Heart Association and the three biggest beverage manufacturers – Coke, Pepsi, and Cadbury Schweppes – on May 10, 2006 announced an agreement to take out all acidifying, high calorie, sugary drinks from elementary school vending machines beginning immediately and progressing through to 2009...And that’s only the first move in this campaign to fight high calorie foods that cause obesity and an acidifying system that dissolves tooth enamel and bone mass. They are planning to turn their attention next to vending-machine snack foods and fast-food companies to reduce the acidifying fat, sugar, and salt in these foods and to even outright replace them with healthier snacks.
(This excerpt from The Bone-Building Solution, was reprinted with permission from John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. the book is available in health food stores and bookstores across Canada.)