Can eating healthy green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli be good for your bones? A recent multi-University study funded by the National Institutes of Health suggests this might indeed be the case.
Fractures in healthy bones are caused when the force of a fall or some other impact on your bones physically deforms the bonded bone proteins osteopontin and osteocalcin. Such an impact creates tiny ‘nanoscale holes’ within the bone's mineral structure, each measuring about 500 atoms in diameter.
These holes are called dilatational bands and function as a natural defense mechanism, preventing further damage to the surrounding bone structure. If the force of the impact is too great - or if the bone doesn’t have enough osteopontin, osteocalcin or both - it will fracture.
The little understood protein osteocalcin is present in all animal bones. Abnormalities in ostoecalcin production have recently been associated with Type 2 diabetes as well as problems in reproductive health.
This study is the first to show that osteocalcin is of great structural and mechanical importance to bone structure, giving it the ability to resist fracture. Therefore, strengthening the bond between osteocalcin and osteopontin should strengthen bone as well.
Boosting your body's natural supply of osteocalcin should help to treat osteoporosis and other conditions leading to increased fracture risk. Osteocalcin must be in its carboxylated form to get absorbed into bone - and vitamin K is responsible for carboxylating osteocalcin.
Currently, all therapies for treating osteoporosis is related to calcium and its metabolism in bone. The results of this new study raise the important question as to whether boosting vitamin K levels to promote carboxylation of osteocalcin can strengthen brittle bones.
Given that leafy green vegetables are the best natural source of vitamin K, perhaps it’s time to add more of them to your daily diet to help your bones stay strong and healthy?