Get Your Ds and Ks

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Recent research has confirmed how important vitamins D and K are indispensable to overall health and specifically to bone health. Vitamin D can be obtained from something as simple as getting daily exposure to sunlight and vitamin K can be obtained from eating deep green vegetables.

Many of us are getting inadequate levels of vitamin D from sun exposure, especially people living in northern climates. Others are not obtaining proper daily levels of vitamin D from their supplements. Both vitamins D and K are fat-soluble and can be stored in the fatty tissue of the body.

“The human body is designed to obtain vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, with only brief exposure providing roughly 95% of the body’s vitamin D stores,” says Sam Graci, author of The Bone Building Solution. He explains, “Exposure of the entire body to sunlight for only 15 minutes a day may produce approximately 10,000 IU of vitamin D a day.”

Graci goes on to say that “sunlight is every bit as vital to your health and well-being as proper nutrition, deep breathing to oxygenate tissues, clean water, deep sleep and exercise.”

A simple way to get vitamin D is to sit in the sun without sunscreen for 15 minutes a day, before 10 AM or after 5 PM with as much skin exposed as possible.

Recent studies suggest that vitamin D3 supports maximal bone-building and bone-repair functions at any age: you must make or consume a minimum of 800 to 1000 IU of vitamin D daily. Experts now recommend 1000 IU of vitamin D for many people.

Vitamin D also reduces fracture rates and is absolutely necessary for the absorption of calcium. According to Graci, “A dietary deficiency of vitamin D inhibits the production of the protein that binds calcium in the intestines so that calcium cannot be absorbed, even if there is adequate intake.”

In February 2006, the Tufts University Health and Nutrition Newsletter ran the headline, “Vitamin D Drives Bone Health.” The newsletter stated that evidence continues to mount that vitamin D3 plays a critical role in developing bones. Researchers of a recent Icelandic study have concluded that if you are not getting enough vitamin D3, it may not matter how much calcium you consume.

According to Andre Picard’s recent article in The Globe and Mail, “The lack of sun exposure which causes vitamin D deficiency contributes to a number of serious health problems including rickets (a once common bone condition in children), osteoporosis, broken bones in the elderly, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and some forms of cancer, notably colorectal.”

Researcher William Grant estimates that up to 80 to 90 % of North Americans are chronically deficient in Vitamin D.

More and more research is also proving the importance of vitamin K in bone building. Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, is found in any green vegetable containing the green pigment chlorophyll and its water-soluble derivative, chlorophyllin. The darker the green vegetable, the more vitamin K it contains. Vitamin K1 requires the presence of friendly bacteria in the intestines to be converted into the more biologically active form called K2. Vitamin K1 is water-soluble and cannot be stored in the body

According to the latest research cited in Graci’s book, vitamin K2 increased the levels of three proteins that act as “chaperones to escort dietary calcium ions into cyclic bone building.”

“If you do not have sufficient vitamin K3 status”, says Graci, “calcium may deposit in your arteries, your heart and your brain and contribute to strokes, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.” It also appears to play a major role in the healing of fractures. A large-scale study of women and nutrition found that those who had at least 100 micrograms of vitamin K in their diet were almost 1/3 less likely to experience fractures.

Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables, whole grains, butter eggs, fermented soy foods and green drinks. It is recommended that you get 120 to 150 micrograms of K1 a day and that you try to maintain healthy bacteria in your gut.

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