The “Missing Link”
Research over the last few decades has shown a new and emerging role for Vitamin K in the treatment of osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin K2 is turning out to be the prime contributing factor and the missing link in abnormal calcium regulation throughout the body. Clinical studies confirmed that most healthy adults have sub-clinical vitamin K deficiency and the first symptoms of this deficiency can be heart attack or osteoporotic bone fracture.
Identified in 1929, vitamin K is a group of fat soluble vitamins found primarily in two forms in nature, K1 and K2. Of the two it is vitamin K2 that is essential for the regulation of normal calcium deposits. Vitamin K2 has two significant sub-types.
These sub-types are:
MK-4 – in dairy, meat and eggs of grass-fed animals
Mk-7 – in fermented soy, natto.
How Does Vitamin K2 Control Bone and Vascular Health?
The possible role of vitamin K2 on bone and vascular health emerged from observations of its effects on certain proteins found in bone tissue and the walls of the arteries.
Vitamin K2 controls two calcium regulating proteins in the body:
osteocalcin – in bones. Vitamin K2 binds osteocalcin to the mineral portion of bone which is an essential process in attaining optimum bone density. Lack of vitamin K2 amplifies the mobilization of calcium from bone tissue resulting in osteoporosis.
Matrix GLA protein – in artery walls. Matrix GLA, controlled by vitamin K2 also, prevents calcium from depositing in the walls of arteries.
Impaired osteocalcin and matrix GLA function, both resulting from low vitamin K2, will increase the risk of osteoporosis and vascular calcium deposits, respectively.
Role in Bone Health
The human skeleton is fully replaced in every 8 to 10 years. The effect of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D in bone health was known previously, but the importance of vitamin K in optimum calcium metabolism has been recognized only recently.
Normal calcium deposits are found in two organs in the body, bones and teeth. Insufficient vitamin K2 leads to decreased bone mineral density, increased risk of osteoporosis and resulting bone fractures. Experimental animal models of osteoporosis reveal that vitamin K2 increases bone mass and mechanical strength, stimulates mineralization and enhances bone collagen structure.
Role in Cardiovascular Health
Abnormal calcium deposits can develop in various soft tissues including the inner lining of arteries, heart valves, muscle tissue and kidneys.
The role of vitamin K2 in cardiovascular health was demonstrated by the Rotterdam Heart Study in 2004. The study tracked 4800 participants over a span of seven years. It was found that the group ingesting the largest quantities of vitamin K2 had a significant 57% reduction in death from complication of heart disease compared to the control group.
New research reveals other benefits of vitamin K. Its importance was discovered in the following conditions:
Alzheimer’s disease – patients are found to have low vitamin K levels
diabetes – experimentally induced vitamin K deficiency increases the incidence of type II diabetes in laboratory animals
some cancers are also associated with low vitamin K2 level
Clinical trials support the findings that regular intake of vitamin K2 in the form of a supplement or from food sources can successfully increase bone density, reduce the incidence of bone fractures and prevent or reverse calcium deposits in arteries. Best food sources of vitamin K2 are natto (fermented soy beans), Gouda and Edam cheese.
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