Eat This, Save Your Bones
The new nutrient to pile on your plate!
By Diana Kelly
As we get older, women are particularly vulnerable to developing osteoporosis—a thinning of the bones that can lead to pain, breaks, and even disability. To save it off, you know that calcium-rich foods and physical activity are vitally important. But new research suggests that a veggie-packed stir-fry or a daily helping of roasted broccoli might be also be helpful in preventing bone loss.
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, have demonstrated for the first time how a mysterious protein, osteocalcin, can impact bone strength. If a bone is lacking in osteocalcin, they conclude, it will be more likely to crack and fracture during a slip, trip, or a fall. The research “implicates, for the first time, the role of osteocalcin in giving bone the ability to resist fracture,” says lead study author Deepak Vashishth, PhD, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer, in a statement.
But the body can’t enhance its natural stores of osteocalcin without vitamin K, meaning that a diet rich in the vitamin might be an effective strategy for preventing bone loss. Earlier research has already shown that low levels of circulating vitamin K appear to contribute to low bone density, and a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that women who consume at least 110 micrograms of vitamin K a day (that’s around 1 cup of cooked broccoli) are 30% less likely to break a hip than those who ingest less than that. The Institute of Medicine suggests that women consume 90 micrograms (μg) of vitamin K each day—and when you consider that 1/2 cup of kale contains 225 micrograms, that recommendation doesn’t seem so daunting.
Vitamin K is particularly plentiful in green, leafy vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, Swish chard, okra, and asparagus. Bonus if you’re able to add more broccoli, turnip greens, bok choy, spinach, and kale to your diet—they’re high in vitamin K and are good dietary sources of calcium. (Looking to pump up your intake of good-for-you greens? Our Green Goddess Smoothie packs just the punch you’re looking for.)
Kelly, Diana. “Eat This, Save Your Bones”. http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/vitamin-k-important-bone-health