Bone Deep Thoughts on Vitamin K2, Bone Health, and Depression

At the time when I first wrote this post, broken bones were happening all around me. Friends in their 30’s with osteopenia, family members out of commission and confined to a bed for a broken tibia, 40 something year old athletes (or at least athletic outdoor adventure seekers) whose summer has ended early due to a broken bone. And NONE of these injurious events seem reasonable given the story involved.

WHY are we getting so demineralized? HOW can we support healthy bone mineralization? WHAT can we do to support the healing process of our bones, and make our bones more resilient?  And what on Earth does this have anything to do with depression (since it is in the title of this post)?

Honestly, I desperately wanted a PEMF machine, which dramatically improves circulation and charge to an area where frequencies are applied, improving ‘bone knitting’, bringing fresh nutritious blood and lymph fluid into the area, and accelerating healing times. Imagine using that along with good nutrition… 🧐

In hot yoga one day, when I was going before dropping out, our instructor was sharing some motivating information to keep us going… “regular yoga practice can improve bone density”. Nice… like other forms of resistance exercise, I guess. I’ve linked to an article below on just 12 minutes of yoga/day supporting bone density.

Yoga article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4851231/…

For work, I’d done a presentation on vitamin K2 and its role in bone mineralization… Just loading up on Calcium can be bad news if you aren’t fully supporting that metabolic pathway. You don’t want excessive free calcium in circulation, and need to get that calcium, and other minerals, into the bone, which requires vitamin K2 along with vitamin D, Magnesium, and Boron. Not many multivitamins have K2, but some do! Seeking Health, Thorne, and Pure Encapsulations have some good options for micronutrient support in this area.

K2 and bone density article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4851231/

“What is vitamin K?” you ask?

Vitamin K 2

Vitamin K2 (Menaquinone), is different than the vitamin K1 we get from leafy green vegetables. K2 is the form produced by intestinal bacteria and can also derived from putrefied fish meal (no thanks), natto (see below, and no), fermented cheeses (um, yes please), and milk fat (particularly from that of grass fed cows). It is actually fairly difficult to get in the diet. Unless you are Japanese and enjoy a fermented soybean natto…

This is natto.

🤢 I just can’t. 

I guess don’t knock it till you try it, but in some of the research with natto supplements the participants actually dropped out because even in a capsule it smelled so awful it was intolerable.

Research has show K2 to slow and even halt bone loss in people with osteopenia. It works like this. Osteocalcin is a vitamin K-dependent protein that creates your bone matrix that calcium crystallizes to. Osteocalcin is like a glue, holding calcium in the bone and giving it structure. Without it, bone is fragile and easier to break. Vitamin K2 “activates” osteocalcin through a process called “carboxylation”. Without carboxylated osteocalcin, calcium cannot be properly utilized for bone structure, and can actually accumulate in your arteries, contributing to stiff, hardened arteries (not what you want at all).

So just changing that daily multivitamin/mineral to one with K2 could make an impact. Or adding in a separate K2 supplement.  You can often find them in combination with vitamin D, a win-win situation for both bones. A deficiency of vitamin K2 will impact your bone health and arteries. And, as research continues to investigate the roles of K2, we find out it helps with insulin sensitivity, and, depression?!?

K2 helps with insulin sensitivity and…. depression?!?

Insulin sensitivity?  A 2022 article in BMC Women’s Health journal about a randomized controlled trial, the best of the best in scientific research, studied the effect of vitamin K2 administration on depression status in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).  

PCOS is characterized by insulin resistance, thinning hair, acne, infertility issues, and mental disorders including depression.  Vitamin K has been reported to help with insulin sensitivity in recent studies, so the researchers gave it a whirl in 84 women with PCOS and depression.  The experimental group in this double blind placebo controlled clinical trial got 90 mcg of MK-7, a more biologically active form of vitamin K2.  

Miraculously, getting the K2 in comparison with placebo significantly improved depression in the women.  Now, it has been shown that K2 can be found in the brain.  And it has been shown that K2 helps regulate the NF-KB pathway, which is part of an inflammatory process.  We know that depression has major inflammatory components to it and that taking an anti-inflammatory approach typically shows significant benefits.  So apparently, in addition to supporting bone and arterial health (by keeping excessive free calcium out of the arteries), it also helps combat inflammation in the brain to lessen depression.  

My love for K2 just grows and grows.  Please get yours.  

Last notes on nutrition for bone health

To be sure we don’t forget to round out our healthy bones talk though, before we go, I want to share some other aspects that came up in my research on bone health which included:

Adequate, but not excess protein intake, where we aim for ~1-1.1 grams of protein/kg of a healthy body weight/day.

  • Diets rich in vegetables, likely due to getting more minerals into the diet but also hypothesized to support a less acidic environment in the body, as acid may leach minerals from bone as a buffer.
  • Avoiding soda consumption, which is linked to higher risk of bone fractures.
  • Avoiding high sodium intake (salt), which is also linked to more calcium excretion in the urine. But most of us are going to do better with at least some salt FYI (I’m not recommending a super duper low sodium diet for you unless you have heart failure probably).

It is also really important to consider that an individual may have an impaired ability to digest and absorb nutrition from their diet. The person in their 30’s with osteopenia ended up having celiacs.  When my iron and vitamin D were severely deficient it turned out I had SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, a form of IBS).  Our gut health is vitally important to the health of our entire body.

To get your K2 containing vitamins, visit my Full Script store at  https://us.fullscript.com/welcome/

To make things easier, I’ve selected some products with K2 here. Check them out!

This one a day multivitamin and mineral take into account all the nuances of vitamin and mineral forms, using the active forms to promote optimal utilization. The dose of K2 may seem small, but they use the most biologically active form, so you get the most mileage out of it.

If you are looking for a multivitamin with iron, this one has it (in a form that is the most bioavailable/easiest to absorb), and it has a nice 100 mcg dose of the most active form of K2.

If you only really take a vitamin D supplement, I’d recommend taking K2 with it to help better support the bone mineralization pathway discussed in this post and minimize any free calcium in the arteries (though at just 2,000 IU vitamin D3, this is likely not going to happen). This particular product was Consumer Labs top pick for combination vitamin D and K2 supplements.

Finally, for a product that is just vitamin K. Thorne’s Vitamin K is a complete formula that includes vitamin K1 and two forms of vitamin K2.

INTERACTIONS
As Vitamin K interferes with the effect of anticoagulant drugs (like Coumadin), the concurrent use of these agents should be avoided unless discussed with your healthcare provider.

Website | + posts

Anne Marie Berggren RDN, MS, CDN, CNSC is a Registered Dietitian with a Master's Degree in Nutrition, training in integrative and functional nutrition, nutrition for mental health, obesity and weight management, is a board certified nutrition support clinician, and an adjunct professor for the Stony Brook Graduate Nutrition Program teaching advanced clinical nutrition.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top