Why Your Calcium Supplement Needs to Also Contain Vitamin K2
From an early age, women have it drilled into their heads that they, more so than men, are vulnerable to depleted bone mass after menopause and so they must make sure they get enough calcium to protect them from this condition, called osteoporosis. Postmenopausal osteoporosis creates a high risk of bone fractures later in life.
Calcium is highest in dairy products. Because a lot of grownups stop drinking milk and they avoid cheese in large amounts to keep from gaining excess weight, many women opt for calcium supplements to maintain a good supply of calcium to preserve bone strength.
Bone density changes
At any moment in time, bone mass is determined by a careful balance of the activity of cells called osteoblasts, cells that secrete new bone, and osteoclasts, cells that break bone down. This delicate balance is regulated by two hormones produced by the parathyroid gland. Parathyroid hormone (PTH) stimulates osteoclasts to release calcium and break down bone. Calcitonin acts antagonistically to PTH.
Children and teenagers form bone faster than they break it down. Peak bone mass is reached between the ages of 18 and 25. After about the age of 30, we gradually break bone down faster than we are forming it. Formation of new bone drops sharply in women after they reach menopause. In the first five to seven years after menopause, women can lose as much as 20 percent or even more of their bone density. This is why little old ladies are subject to hip fractures. Sadly, fracturing a hip is a great way to kiss goodbye to your independence. Men, too, lose bone mass but at a much slower rate.
The calcium paradox
Oddly, patients with osteoporosis, caused in part by a deficiency in calcium, are often found to have extensive calcium plaques blocking their arteries. This is called the Calcium Paradox. Enter vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is the collective term for a group of compounds called Menaquinones. Of these, MK4 is the most important. Scientists in The Netherlands have reported that a high intake of vitamin K2 can reduce severe aortic calcification by as much as 52 percent1.
How to increase your calcium absorption
It is a well-known fact that calcium supplements on their own are not as effectively absorbed as calcium supplements taken with vitamin D. Search Amazon.com for calcium supplements and half of them will contain added vitamin D3. While calcium supplements may be formulated with vitamin D, it is not easy to find one that also contains vitamin K2 and magnesium, which are also important for calcium absorption.
Because your body can only process up to 500 mg of calcium at any one time, you may need to take multiple smaller doses of calcium each day. If you are looking for a good calcium supplement containing vitamin D, vitamin K2 and magnesium, check out the Bone Strength supplement by New Chapter.
1Geleijnse JM, et al, “Dietary Intake of Menaquinone Is Associated with a Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: The Rotterdam Study.” Journal of Nutrition. 2004.