I’ve just started working with a patient that fell with a broken pelvis. Her bone actually broke before she fell. I realize that calcium gets all of the press for preventing bone loss, but an overlooked nutrient, vitamin K, has recently begun to get more attention. Vitamin K is best known for its critical role in blood clot formation, but it is also vital for protecting bones from osteoporosis. Researchers have observed that people with low levels of vitamin K tend to have low bone mineral density, and supplementation improves that density. Data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which included more than 72,000 women, found that those who got at least 110 mcg of vitamin K per day were 30% less likely to break a hip than those who didn’t. For optimal bone health, it’s best to get the recommended amounts of vitamin K through daily consumption of vitamin-K rich foods. Recommended intake is 90 mcg/day for women and 120 for men. Foods high in K are (highest first) are: Kale, spinach, collards, swiss chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, raw parsley, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, green leaf lettuce, prunes, asparagus, avocado, canned tuna, blue/black berries, and cooked peas. Lots of green leafy veges in this group. I know that a cheeseburger sounds better, but try to eat as many of the above plant foods as possible. Don’t wait to have a fall-I have never seen anything good as a result of a fall.

Speaking of plant foods, they contain hundreds of bioactive compounds-vitamins, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals that, when eaten, interact with cells, hormones and DNA, and play a key role in controlling gene expression and cell changes. The end result is that our genetic makeup is not static, but dynamic. The nutrients we eat sway gene expression in a positive direction and away from chronic diseases. If you New Year’s resolution is to get or stay healthy and ahead of disease, eat more plants in their natural form-colorful veges, unsweetened fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.