September 27, 2022. You probably know you need Vitamin D to absorb and use calcium to strengthen and maintain your bones. Your skin synthesizes Vitamin D – a lot of it – when it’s exposed to sunlight. So while the days get shorter, the sunlit hours fewer and the strength of the sun weaker, let’s talk about your diet. And about Vitamin K, the other vitamin that contributes mightily to bone strength and density.
If you got enough sunlight during the last five or six months, you’ve probably got enough Vitamin D to get you through the cold, dark months. Which is a good thing, because Vitamin D is one of the few things you can’t get enough of from a healthy diet. Unless you eat a half-pound of wild salmon – every night. Or fifty pastured, organic egg yolks. If you have a Vitamin D deficiency – many Americans do – you should consider a supplement.
But you should really consider Vitamin K and a lot of the seasonal vegetables that are at their peak when the sun starts heading for its low point.
“Vitamin K helps produce one of the main proteins used to build bone, inhibits the production of substances that can break down bone, and also helps regulate the amount of calcium in the blood. Given these critical roles, it is not surprising that vitamin K intake has been found to influence bone mass and possibly fracture risk. In the Nurses’ Health Study, we found a 30 percent reduction in the risk of hip fractures among women who consumed at least 100 micrograms of vitamin K a day. Notably, this vitamin is easy to obtain through daily diet. There are about 70 micrograms in a cup of lettuce and 300 micrograms in a cup of broccoli.“
That’s kale, with a K
I eat my broccoli regularly, but the superstar of Vitamin K delivery is Kale. 550 micrograms per cup of those chopped dark green leaves. Followed closely by Swiss Chard, Collards, Cress, Spinach, Turnip Greens, Mustard Greens, Beet Greens and Broccoli Raab. Reminder: October 7 is National Kale Day.
Seasonal Cooking with a K
While it’s still warm, this Kale & Apple Salad is easy and refreshing. Just like Kale Slaw. Spinach Soup is super satisfying. Kale Chips are revelatory and addictive, flash-roasted or flash-fried.
When it gets darker and colder, this Swiss Chard Puree on Mashed Potatoes will make you smile. And pizzoccheri will keep you happy for a week. When you start to think about vegetables for Thanksgiving dinner, think about Glazed & Smoky Brussels Sprouts. 33 micrograms of Vitamin K in a single sprout. And you really should eat your Broccoli Gratin. OK?
Every Thing Is Everything
Even the little things count. Herbs are packed with Vitamin K. More than 50 micrograms per tablespoon in dried basil, sage and thyme. Even fresh basil has has 10 per tablespoon. Have your pesto party now.
It’s Always Something
“Vitamin A, unlike vitamins D and K, may actually
be detrimental to bone when consumed in large quantities. We examined two forms of vitamin A (beta-carotene and retinol) among postmenopausal women and found that high intakes of retinol, but not beta-carotene, increased the risk of hip fracture. Women who consumed at least 6,600 IU of retinol per day were nearly twice as likely to suffer hip fractures as those who consumed less than 1,650 IU of retinol per day.” Nurses’ Health Study
It’s highly unlikely you have a Vitamin A deficiency, so just don’t take supplements with retinol. Eat seasonally: you’ll get huge doses of beta-carotene from carrots, sweet potatoes and beets. And huge pleasure from Curried Carrots & Chickpeas, Sweet Potato
Pie and Beet Green Tart.