By 2050, between 4.5 million and 6.3 million hip fractures could occur worldwide each year. These injuries are often the result of bone loss due to osteoporosis. Before you develop osteoporosis, however, you'll experience bone loss known as osteopenia.
Osteopenia is most common in people over the age of 50. However, there are steps you can take before you begin to lose bone density. To begin with, you can start taking Vitamin K to strengthen your bones.
Without taking the proper precautions, the loss of bone density could lead to broken bones. By making a few lifestyle and diet changes, you can strengthen your bones and reduce your risk of osteopenia.
Keep reading to learn more.
Osteopenia and Osteoporosis
Losing bone density is a normal part of ageing. Women are more likely to lose bone during the first few years after menopause. Other risk factors that can lead to osteopenia or osteoporosis include:
- Taking high-dose steroid tablets for over three months
- Medical conditions such as hormone-related or inflammatory conditions
- A family history of osteoporosis, including hip fractures
- Long-term use of medications that affect bone strength or hormone levels
- Eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia
- Low body mass index
- Heavy drinking or smoking
An unhealthy diet and lack of exercise can lead to osteopenia as well.
Vitamin K and Bone Health
Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that play a role in:
- Blood clotting
- Bone metabolism
- Regulating blood calcium levels
Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, is plant-based. When you consume plants with vitamin K1, bacteria in your large intestine will convert it into vitamin K2. It's then absorbed in the small intestine and stored in fatty tissue and your liver.
You can also find vitamin K2, or menaquinone, in animal foods and fermented foods.
Without vitamin K, your body can't produce prothrombin. Prothrombin is a clotting factor that's necessary for blood clotting and bone metabolism.
According to one study, daily vitamin K supplementation over two to four years won't protect against age-related decline bone mineral density. However, it can help against fractures and cancers in postmenopausal women with osteopenia.
Vitamin K2 plays a central role in metabolism calcium. Calcium is the main mineral found in your teeth and bones. To build and maintain your bones, vitamin K2 activates the calcium-binding actions of two proteins within your body.
Vitamin K Deficiency
Signs that you're vitamin K deficient include:
- Bruising easily
- Excessive bleeding
- Small blood clots beneath the fingernails
- Bleeds in mucous membranes
- Stool that appears dark and contains some blood
There are a number of ways you can increase vitamin K within your body. For example, you can take phytonadione, which is vitamin K. Your doctor might also suggest oral medication or injections.
Adding leafy green vegetables can help your body maintain vitamin K levels as well, including:
- Brussel sprouts
- Turnip greens
- Fermented dairy products
Speak with your doctor to determine if you're vitamin K deficient.
Other Ways to Prevent Bone Loss
By 2030, approximately 71.2 million people will have osteoporosis or osteopenia. There are a few lifestyle changes you can make to prevent bone loss before it occurs.
Here are a few ways you can prevent bone loss and minimize the effects of osteopenia:
Calcium is your greatest ally when it comes to improving your bone density. Remember, calcium makes up most of your bones. It also plays a critical role in preventing bone-related diseases like osteopenia and osteoporosis.
A low-calcium diet could lead to premature bone loss and low bone density.
Try to include calcium-rich foods in your daily diet, including:
- Low-fat yoghurt
- Leafy greens
- Non-fat milk
- Dried fruits
- Calcium-enriches breakfast cereals
You can also take calcium supplements to strengthen your bone health. Make sure to speak with a doctor first, especially if you're taking medication.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D also plays a crucial role in supporting bone health and reducing your risk of osteopenia. Vitamin D can help support your body's absorption of calcium.
Try adding more vitamin D-rich foods in your diet, including:
- Seafood (swordfish, sardines, salmon)
- Fortified foods such as orange juice and cereals
Head outside, too! 10 to 15 minutes in the sun every day will boost your body's natural production of Vitamin D.
3. Soy Protein
Soy contains a compound known as genistein, which can help strengthen your bones. Try adding soy protein to your diet as a protein powder in your morning smoothie. Soy protein can help improve your bone density and prevent bone loss conditions.
Don't forget to make sure your body gets enough calcium each day as well.
Potassium plays an important part in both bone and muscle health. This nutrient neutralizes acids that eliminate calcium from the body.
You can add potassium to your diet with:
- Red peppers
- Swiss chard
- Sweet potato
In addition to helping treat osteopenia, this mineral can help prevent osteoporosis, too.
5. Reduce Caffeine Intake
Too much caffeine can interfere with your body's ability to absorb calcium. Try to limit how much coffee you drink every day. You can always switch to decaf.
Magnesium-rich foods can help stimulate calcitonin production, which preserves bone structure by drawing calcium from your soft tissues. Magnesium-rich foods include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Leafy vegetables
You can also take magnesium supplements.
7. Lower Sodium Intake
Too much salt can add to your risk of bone fragility. A high-salt diet can also increase the risk of breaking a bone among postmenopausal women. Try to limit yourself to less than 1,500 mg of salt daily.
8. Vitamin C
Vitamin C can also help prevent bone mineral density loss. Vitamin C plays a role in synthesizing collagen, which is another main protein in your bones.
Try eating plenty of citrus fruits, broccoli, and bell peppers to get your daily dose of vitamin C.
Make sure to get plenty of exercise. Remaining physically active can help prevent the loss of bone mineral density. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, will increase your risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Try light weight-bearing exercises, swimming, dancing, or hiking daily.
Reduce Your Risk: Discover the Connection Between Vitamin K and Osteopenia
While losing bone density is a normal part of ageing, there are lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health.
Minimize your risk of developing osteopenia by strengthening your bone density. With vitamin K and the other nutrients mentioned above, you can keep your bones strong and healthy despite old age. You'll no longer have to let potential fractures or frail bones slow you down.
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