This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
New research finds that foods high in vitamin K may help prevent brittle bones, reducing the risk of fractures. Currently, the allopathic medical approach in treating osteoporosis is through medications and calcium, but the discovery suggesting the value of green vegetables in bone health could potentially lead to a dietary approach in treating the disease.
How Does a Bone Fracture Occur?
The new study sheds light on how fractures occur at the nanostructure level, revealing how the protein osteocalcin plays an important role in bone strength. Researchers found that the force of impact on a bone from a slip or fall causes a pair of joined proteins, osteocalcin and osteopontin, to form very tiny holes in the mineral structure. This effect is a natural defense mechanism because it helps prevent further damage to the surrounding bone. A fracture occurs when the force of impact is too great or when the bones are deficient in one or both of the proteins.
Lead author, Deepak Vashishth, says that the research is significant because for the first time it uncovers the role of osteocalcin in imparting strength to bones, enabling them to resist fracture. “Since osteocalcin is always the point of fracture, we believe that strengthening it could lead to a strengthening of the overall bone,” he explains.
The Implication of This Finding
Now that the relationship between osteocalcin and bone fractures is known, scientists can search for strategies to strengthen the bond between osteopontin and osteocalcin, Vashishth states. Increasing the body’s supply of osteocalcin is one possible strategy for an osteoporosis treatment, he postulates. As vitamin K is needed for bones to absorb osteocalcin, increasing the dietary intake of foods rich in this nutrient could strengthen the bones.
The Best Food Sources of Vitamin K
Green vegetables are the highest food sources of this nutrient, and topping the list is kale, followed by collard, turnip and mustard greens. Other excellent sources include Brussels sprouts, broccoli and beet greens, as well as spinach, asparagus and sauerkraut. Parsley and all varieties of lettuce, especially the darker varieties of the vegetable, are outstanding sources, too.
Some natural health practitioners advocate eating vegetable to increase bone density and strength, since a high intake of these foods has been linked to beneficial effects on bone health for years. The new study has just made the link stronger, increasing understanding of the probable underlying cause of the benefit of vegetables for bones.