Vitamin K2: Heart Savior
We don’t usually think of a connection between the health of our heart and that of our bones, and neither do most doctors. But there’s strong evidence that the two go hand-in-hand.
People with undetected heart disease are six times more likely to suffer from bone loss and fractures, and on the flipside, those with low bone mass are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
What’s the link?
A lack of vitamin K2, which leads to calcium from food and supplements being deposited in the wrong places – in arteries instead of bones.
‘K2 is like an usher in a theater,’ says Dennis Goodman, M.D., a board-certified cardiologist, director of integrative medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, and author of Vitamin K2: The Missing Nutrient for Heart and Bone Health.
In this case, the usher escorts calcium to bones.
‘Vitamin K2 helps calcium bind to the bone mineral matrix, keeping it away from blood vessels,’ Dr. Goodman tells Newsmax Health.
‘This is important because if unwanted calcium deposits accumulate in the arteries, it can lead to blockages that can contribute to heart attacks and strokes.’
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition tracked 4,807 people over 55, monitoring dietary levels of vitamin K2 and heart health for 10 years.
The findings were stunning.
Those who consumed the most K2, about 45 micrograms (mcg) daily, were half as likely to die of heart disease, and 25 percent less likely to die from any cause.
Another study tested supplements against a placebo among 244 postmenopausal women: 180 mcg daily of K2 (the MK-7 form) for three years.
During the period of the study, which was published in Osteoporosis International, the K2 supplements significantly slowed age-related bone loss.
Studies have also shown that only vitamin K2 (not K1) improves heart and bone health.
‘Our body does not make enough K2 and we can’t get enough in our diet,’ says Dr. Goodman.
To get 45 mcg, the minimum amount found to be beneficial, you would need to eat huge amounts of food containing K2 every day, such as 8 pounds of beef, 1.3 gallons of milk, eight egg yolks, and 3 ounces of the hard-rind cheese. That’s not likely to happen.
Supplements can solve the problem.
Dr. Goodman recommends taking up to 180 mcg daily of the MK-7 form of vitamin K2, which may be listed on supplement labels as ‘menaquinone-7’ or a patented form called ‘MenaQ7.’
If you take calcium supplements, he recommends switching to a combination of vitamin K2 with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D.
These all work together in the body.
Anyone on blood-thinning medication should take vitamin K2 only under the supervision of their healthcare provider, Dr. Goodman advises.
Vitamin K2 is in a family of vitamin K nutrients.
Another form, vitamin K1, is necessary for healthy blood clotting and to prevent dangerous bleeding, but large doses may reduce the effectiveness of blood-thinning medications such as warfarin.
Leafy greens are the chief source of vitamin K1 and can provide adequate amounts.
Vitamin K2 plays a different role. It isn’t found in leafy greens and, because only small amounts are present in our everyday foods, is virtually impossible to obtain in adequate amounts from our diet.
In supplements, there are two forms of vitamin K2. One is MK-4, or menatetrenone, and the other is MK-7, also called ‘menaquinone-7,’ or a patented form called ‘MenaQ7.’
Dr. Goodman describes the difference this way: MK-4 is short-acting and cannot consistently maintain adequate levels of the nutrient, whereas MK-7 – the form he recommends – is long-acting and effective.
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