Lara Pizzorno is the author of “Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis and Have Strong Bones for Life – Naturally” and a member of the American Medical Writers Association with 29 years of experience specializing in bone health.
Recently we asked Lara if she would help us provide a series of short, ongoing videos to help you (our customers and readers) stay up to date on the latest facts and science related to bone health.
In this latest video, Lara reveals that certain people have a slower working version of this enzyme, which in turn increases their fracture risk. But she discusses how you can improve this enzyme’s function. Watch the video below (or read the transcript provided) and let us know what you think in the comments. 🙂
Hello, my name is Lara Pizzorno. I’m the author of “Your Bones” and I’m here to share some information with you that I hope will help you to have healthier bones.
In this video I’d like to talk with you about:
- An enzyme called gamma-glutamyl carboxylase which plays a critical role in our bones’ health.
- And why some of us have a slow version of this enzyme which greatly increases our risk for osteoporosis.
- And then, what we can do to improve the way that this enzyme functions so that we too can have healthier bones if we do have a slow version of gamma-glutamyl carboxylase.
So what is gamma-glutamyl carboxylase?
It’s the enzyme that activates the two key proteins that regulate where calcium goes in your body: osteocalcin which puts calcium into your bones and matrix gla protein which keeps it out of your arteries. Vitamin K is the cofactor for this enzyme, gamma-glutamyl carboxylase. You can kind of think of Vitamin K as the sparkplug for this enzyme.
Without Vitamin K around, gamma-glutamyl carboxylase can’t work, and we really need it to be working. Because it is the enzyme that when Vitamin K1 joins with it to serve as its cofactor, activates our blood clotting proteins. And when Vitamin K2 joins with it to serve as its cofactor, activates those proteins that are so important to bone health that I keep telling you about. Osteocalcin which puts calcium into our bones and matrix gla protein which prevents calcium from depositing where we don’t want it, in our arteries, brains, breasts, or kidneys.
Some of us have inherited a SNP or a single-nucleotide polymorphism, which is a variation in the way our genes are organized that results in our version of gamma-glutamyl carboxylase being slow.
So we need to help it work better, or we’re not going to do a very good job with activating osteocalcin or matrix gla protein. And the really good news here is that we can improve the efficiency of gamma-glutamyl carboxylase if it’s not working well.
To do so, we just have to make sure that this enzyme is fully saturated with Vitamin K. And to ensure that, we need to make more Vitamin K available to activate this enzyme than the average person needs to maximize his or her gamma-glutamyl carboxylase activity. Again, it’s not yet easy to check your genetic profile for SNPs in the gamma-glutamyl carboxylase enzyme, but this analysis will become available soon and for now, there is something you can do. You can check your blood levels of uncarboxylated osteocalcin.
And remember, osteocalcin is the Vitamin K-dependent protein that when activated by Vitamin K, helps you put calcium into your bones. If it’s not activated by Vitamin K, it just floats around in your bloodstream and it does nothing to put calcium into your bones. So when it’s not been activated by Vitamin K, it’s called uncarboxylated or unactivated, uncarboxylated osteocalcin. So if your blood levels are of uncarboxylated osteocalcin are high, this suggests that you need more Vitamin K to get the job done.
I’ve provided a link to one of the labs that runs this test for uncarboxylated osteocalcin along with this video, and I hope it’s been helpful for you. And I hope you’ll tune in for the next one. We’re going to talk about one more enzyme that’s critical for your bone health and for Vitamin K use and elimination. It’s called cytochrome P450 4F2. And I’ll tell you all about it in the next video. Thanks so much for tuning in.
Haraikawa M, Tsugawa N, Sogabe N, et al. Effects of gamma-glutamyl carboxylase gene polymorphism (R325Q) on the association between dietary vitamin K intake and gamma-carboxylation of osteocalcin in young adults. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2013;22(4):646-54. doi: 10.6133/apjcn.2013.22.4.01. PMID: 24231026
Sogabe N, Tsugawa N, Maruyama R, et al. Nutritional effects of gamma-glutamyl carboxylase gene polymorphism on the correlation between the vitamin K status and gamma-carboxylation of osteocalcin in young males. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2007 Oct;53(5):419-25. PMID: 18079608
One lab that offers the unOC test: https://www.gdx.net/product/vitamin-k-test-serum