Improving Bone Health with Vitamin D and K

Vitamin K & Vitamin D: Possible Keys to Preventing Bone Loss

The human skeleton undergoes continuous formation and reformation throughout an entire lifespan. Skeletal remodeling depends largely in part on an intricate biological dance that exists between bone cells.

Bone cells called osteoclasts break down old bone and, in turn, osteoblasts form new bone. This bone cell activity is controlled by several hormones, helper molecules, and the availability of various nutrients. In healthy bone, a constant balance takes place between all of these necessary components, ensuring that old bone is replaced by new bone.


Sometimes an imbalance in bone cell activity occurs resulting in bone weakening conditions, such as osteoporosis. In osteoporosis, skeletal tissue is being broken down at a faster rate than it can be formed. The consequence of this is a decrease in bone density and an increased risk for bone fractures.

A reported 75 million people in Europe, Japan, and the USA are affected by osteoporosis. Although osteoporosis can affect everyone, certain populations are more at risk. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the following are some risk factors associated with developing osteoporosis. 

Uncontrollable Factors Controllable Factors
  • Female
  • Over 50 years of age
  • Menopause
  • Having a family history
  • Low body weight/being small and thin
  • Broken bones or height loss
  • Having a disease that results in bone loss
  • Not getting enough calcium and vitamin D
  • Not eating enough fruits and vegetables
  • Getting too much protein, sodium, and caffeine
  • An inactive lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol

*Taking certain medications can result in bone loss.

Vitamin K & Bone Health

Within the body, vitamin K is important for blood coagulation and may play a role in cardiovascular health. Although vitamin K comes in two forms, K1 and K2, both have been shown to improve bone health—especially when combined with calcium and vitamin D.

Vitamin K serves as a helper molecule that facilitates the natural modification of osteocalcin, a biological material found in bone. When there is inadequate vitamin K, undercarboxylated osteocalcin results, making it difficult to form new bone. Additionally, in a combined effort with vitamin D, vitamin K ensures calcium-balance within the body and therefore promotes healthy bone metabolism.

bone healthResearch has found that in addition to being female and postmenopausal, being white or of Asian descent also increases the risk of bone loss. A small study published by the Journal of Korean Medical Science observed the effects of vitamin K with vitamin D and calcium among postmenopausal Korean women 60 years of age and older.

The women were divided into two groups; one group received a combined supplementation of vitamin K2, vitamin D, and calcium while the other group only received vitamin D and calcium.

After six months, the authors found statistically significant results. Within the vitamin K2 supplemented group, lumbar spine bone mineral density had increased and undercarboxylated osteocalcin levels decreased. Consistent results were found in other studies where fortified foods were used as the mode of nutrient delivery.

Further reports with similar results were published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health. Individuals presenting with bone health conditions such as osteoporosis and osteopenia were supplemented with a micronutrient therapy that consisted of vitamin D3, vitamin K2, omega 3 fatty acids, and other trace minerals.

Instead of calcium supplementation, they were encouraged to eat plant sources of calcium. Their daily regimen also included engaging in weight-bearing exercises. After 12 months, bone mineral density improved significantly and the authors concluded,

“[Although] further clinical trials are required to confirm efficacy, this combined micronutrient supplementation regimen appears to be at least as effective as [drug therapies] (i.e., bisphosphonates) in raising bone mass density levels in hip, spine, and femoral neck sites. This micronutrient regimen also appears to show efficacy in individuals where [drug] therapy was previously unsuccessful in maintaining or raising bone mass density.”

Promoting Bone Health at Every Age

Observational studies have shown that low daily intake of vitamin K has been linked to a higher risk of age-related bone loss and hip fracture. That being said, prevention is the key! There are many things you can do at any age to increase bone mass.

Increase Your Intake of Mineral-Rich Nutrients

There are a number of mineral-rich foods that support bone health. Incorporating a variety of these nutrient-dense foods will also help to increase vitamin and fiber intake.

Vitamin K Vitamin D Calcium
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Collard Greens
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Fatty Fish (i.e., sardines, salmon)
  • Eggs
  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Black Strap Molasses
  • Leafy Green Vegetables
  • Tahini
  • Navy Beans
  • Dairy Products

Along with nutrient-dense foods, these bone-building vitamins and minerals can also be found in supplement form and may provide many added health benefits to your wellness routine. 

Increase Your Physical Activity

Increasing your physical activity, specifically weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises can help to maintain the bone mineral density you already have and also promote new bone formation in the future. Consider integrating the following exercises into your physical activity routine:

Weight-Bearing Exercises

  • Hiking
  • Jogging or Running
  • Tennis
  • High-Impact Aerobics
  • Fast-walking

Muscle-Strengthening Exercises

  • Lifting Weights
  • Using Elastic Exercise Bands
  • Lifting Your Own Body Weight (i.e., Yoga)

The Bare Bones

With any change to your wellness routine, it is important to first discuss these modifications with a physician to ensure a health plan that is right for you. It’s never too late to start implementing wellness practices that promote bone health and overall wellness.

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