If you’re one of the 47% of DCs providing nutritional services in addition to spinal manipulation, you may be wondering which vitamins can help best support your patients’ musculoskeletal health. Two to consider are vitamins D and K. Not only is each beneficial on its own but, when combined, they create a type of synergy that provides even greater health effects.
Individual benefits of vitamins D and K
Vitamin D helps support bone health, in part, by aiding in the absorption of calcium. The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) shares that this nutrient also plays a role in several additional bodily processes, such as those involved in inflammation reduction, cell growth modulation, immune function, and glucose metabolism
Vitamin K is another nutrient that supports bone metabolism. According to the ODS, it does this by acting as a coenzyme for vitamin K-dependent carboxylase, which is required for the synthesis of bone metabolism proteins. Vitamin K is also critical for helping the blood clot when an injury occurs.
If vitamin D intake is inadequate, it can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Patients deficient in vitamin K have an increased risk of excessive bleeding and hemorrhage, along with increasing their risk of osteoporosis. So, getting enough of each of these vitamins is important for optimal health. But taking them together provides a powerful synergy that offers patients even more benefits.
The synergy of a vitamin D-K combination
If you want to lose weight, you can either reduce your calorie intake or increase your physical activity. But if you take both actions at the same time, your ability to drop excess pounds is enhanced as the two work together to synergistically support maximum weight loss. Research shows that the same type of effect is achieved by combining vitamins D and K when it comes to bone health.
One such study involved patients with knee osteoarthritis. Their levels of vitamin D and K were assessed, then compared to the amount of lower-extremity function they had over the following four to five years. Sufficient intake of vitamins K and D was associated with better lower-extremity function as evidenced by faster gait speed and chair stand completion time.
A 2017 article published in the International Journal of Endocrinology explains that vitamin D helps promote the production of vitamin K-dependent proteins. This would enhance the bone metabolism protein synthesis process. The article’s authors also indicate that a majority of studies involving postmenopausal women support the synergistic effects of a D-K combination as being especially helpful for boosting bone health in this population.
There are two types of vitamin K. Vitamin K1 is phylloquinone, which is primarily found in leafy greens. Vitamin K2 refers to menaquinones. In addition to being produced in gut bacteria, K2 can also be found in meat, eggs, dairy products, and natto (fermented soybeans).
According to a 2020 meta-analysis, a combination of vitamin D and vitamin K was more effective at increasing bone mineral density and decreasing undercarboxylated osteocalcin than either on its own, with more favorable results when the form of vitamin K consumed was K2. A 2021 meta-analysis had similar findings, citing positive effects on bone mineral density in the lumbar region specifically.
A combination supplement is also beneficial for cardiovascular health. A 2020 study involving 4,742 participants connected low vitamin D and K levels with an increased risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and cardiovascular events.
Factors to consider when choosing a combination D-K supplement
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that consumers consider the following factors when choosing any type of dietary supplement:
- The person’s nutritional needs based on their total dietary intake
- Whether the supplement is safe when the patient’s health and nutritional status are considered
- Whether the supplement may interact with other medications the patient is taking, both prescription and over the counter
It’s also important that patients realize that the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements is the responsibility of individual manufacturers versus being governed by the FDA or another regulatory agency. Thus, buying products made by a reputable manufacturer can go a long way toward those products being both safe and effective. This includes looking for a manufacturer that does quality assurance and control on its products, as well as making them in an FDA-registered and regulated facility.