Chances are you never heard of osteocalcin. But this protein is an important structural component of your bones and plays an important role in keeping your bones from breaking. Interestingly, you have to eat leafy greens like broccoli and spinach to help your body deposit osteocalcin into your skeleton.
Research at Polytechnic Institute shows that when you injure a bone, osteocalcin, in partnership with osteopontin (another protein), forms tiny holes to keep the bone from splintering.
These holes, called dilatational bands, function as a natural defense mechanism and help prevent further damage to the surrounding bone. However, if the force of the impact is too great or if the bone is lacking osteopontin or osteocalcin (or both), the bone cracks and fractures.
Osteocalin must be in its carboxylated form to be transferred into bone. The protein is carboxylated by vitamin K, a vitamin chiefly found in leafy greens like broccoli and spinach. Consequently, eating plenty of greens should help keep bones sturdier by encouraging deposits of this beneficial protein