Feb 19, 2021
According to a study from the British Medical Journal (1), women who supplement with calcium to prevent osteoporosis are at a higher risk of calcium plaques forming in the arteries. In fact, another study shows that a group of women who were taking calcium supplements for 5 years, had six more cardiovascular disease episodes than the non-supplement group (2). Of course, there are usually multiple factors that contribute to heart disease, so what can we do to help prevent it? Are calcium supplements still safe to take? This is where Vitamin K2 comes into the picture – let’s look at why it is so important.
Vitamin K1, K2 – MK4 and MK7
There are several forms of Vitamin K, but the most important ones to focus on are K1 and K2 (MK4 and MK7).
Vitamin K1’s main role is to allow the blood to form clots. This is important as it prevents us from bleeding to death from a small cut. K1 is found in dark leafy greens and most fruits and vegetables. Because it is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, it’s rare for a deficiency to occur.
Vitamin K2’s main role is to move calcium around in the body – it has very little to do with blood clotting function. Although a small amount of K1 is converted to K2 through bacterial synthesis, most of it comes from animal products like goose liver, eggs, grass fed butter, cheese and grass-fed milk, and lard. It can also be found in fermented soy (natto). MK4 is from animal sources and MK7 comes from a bacterial origin (natto).
If you can stomach eating enough natto and goose liver, then you might not need a supplement. If you are like me and most of the population, a supplement is a great option to ensure you are getting enough of K2 (MK4 and MK7) into your diet. And especially if you are taking a calcium supplement!
How Vitamin K2, Vitamin D and Vitamin A work together
These fat-soluble vitamins work synergistically in the body and are the groundwork of health. “They are required so the body can make use of all other nutrients” – Weston Price. Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium in the small intestine and although it has been shown to slightly increase bone density, it needs further direction on where to go once absorbed into the blood. That is one of the main roles of Vitamin K2. Essentially, Vitamin K2 moves calcium into the bones and teeth and prevents buildup of plaque in the arteries.
“Vitamin A plays a valuable role in managing the bodies need for vitamin K2. Vitamin D stimulates the production of Vitamin K2 and increases the body’s demand for vitamin K2. The more K2 dependent proteins you can make, the more calcium you can direct into bones and away from arteries.“ – Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox.
A diet rich in these fat-soluble vitamins will ensure you are getting a good balance. Unfortunately for vegans, this is a lot harder to achieve as they are only found in animal products. For example, Beta-carotene can be found in yellow and orange vegetables/fruit and leafy greens, but it’s not actually Vitamin A (retinol). The conversion to Vitamin A (retinol) is very low and on top of that, the absorption of beta-carotene is 20% - 50%. This is why a supplement is often recommended for people following a vegan diet.
Vitamin K2* is not only important for a healthy heart and bones, but it may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, wrinkles, contribute to healthy veins, brain and neurological protection, arthritis, and much more!
*All information and tools presented and written within this Flyer are for educational and Informational purposes only. Any nutrition, lifestyle and product recommendations are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Before starting any new supplements, diet and exercise program please check with your doctor or practitioner.
(1) Bolland MJ, Grey A, Avenell, et al. Calcium supplements with or without vitamin D and risk of cardiovascular events: reanalysis of the Women’s Health Initiative limited access dataset and meta-analysis. BMJ 2011: 342:d2040
(2) Bolland MJ, Grey A, Avenell, et al. Effect of Calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infraction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis. BMJ 2010, 341:c3691 (see Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox for full study list)
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