Bones are most active growing and developing during childhood. The one common nutrient for healthy bone is calcium. However, calcium may be deposited into soft tissues if not utilized properly. Vitamin K2 is needed to prevent accumulation of calcium in arteries and to develop healthy teeth and bones in children.
There is more than one form of Vitamin K:
- Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is normally found in green leafy vegetables e.g. kale, broccoli, spinach etc.
- Vitamin K2 (menaquinones) is mostly found in fermented foods such as cheese and natto.
Other than blood clotting, Vitamin K2 as the special member of the K family activates proteins (osteocalcin and MGP) responsible for important physiological functions. As a result, the proteins promote healthy and strong bones, while ensuring the heart is protected from unnecessary calcium deposition.
While there are plenty of reasons for adults to take Vitamin K2, children are the ones that need this vitamin far more than the adults do.
A study shows that modern children have 8-10 times more inactive osteocalcin (the bone-building protein) than adults. In other words, children have a more urgent need for Vitamin K2 as they have plenty of inactive osteocalcins lying around waiting to be activated by Vitamin K2.
Why so, you may ask?
Children obtain majority of their bone mass from age 0-20. And during this critical period, the body naturally produces more of the bone-building osteocalcin (sadly, they are all inactive when they are first produced in the body) to help transport calcium into their skeleton. Supplementation with Vitamin K2 has been shown to increase active osteocalcin concentrations in children as young as the age of 6. More active osteocalcin literally means more calcium being brought into a child’s bones!
A 40-year long review study showed that as Vitamin K2 intake in children decreased, potential forearm fractures in children increased. Hence, early supplementation of Vitamin K2 is vital in reducing fracture risk in children. The higher the bone mass acquired before the age of 20-25, the better quality is bone health later in life.
Arterial calcification, also known as the hardening of arteries, is a progressive process that happens over decades and begins as soon as the person starts consuming foods containing calcium. Without the right agents directing them to the bones and teeth, calcium that we consume readily deposits in the arteries. Clinical observations reveal that Vitamin K2-deficient children has a risk for developing arterial calcification later in life. This results in decreased elasticity of the blood vessels and increases risk of clot formation, which is the usual cause of heart attack or stroke.
Inadequate intake of Vitamin K2 thus leads to:
- Decreased bone mass
- Increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
Early supplementation of Vitamin K2 in childhood benefits children in reducing arterial calcification; which is actually a life-long process thus, promoting a healthy cardiovascular system. Taken long term, Vitamin K2 has the potential to improve not only bone health but also ensures the heart goes a long way.
Studies show that daily supplementation with 45-50mcg of Vitamin K2 supports bone health and inhibits arterial calcification from throughout a child’s lifespan. Prevention is better than cure! Start your child on Vitamin K2 today!
- Shearer MJ. The roles of vitamins D and K in bone health and osteoporosis prevention. Proc Nutr Soc. 1997;56(3):915-937.
- Van Summeren M et al. Pronounced elevation of undercarboxylated osteocalcin in healthy children. Pediatr Res. 2007 Mar;61(3):366-70.
- Shiraki M et al. Vitamin K2 (menatetrenone) effectively prevents fractures and sustains lumbar bone mineral density in osteoporosis. J Bone Miner Res. 2000;15:515-21.
- Geleijnse JM et al. Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. The Rotterdam Study. J Nutr. 2004;134:3100-5.