Anyone reading the recent headlines regarding calcium and vitamin D supplements is entitled to a little confusion. Is it good to take these supplements, or bad?
Well, as is often true with research findings, the answer is a bit complicated, but stay tuned for some great news! First, the bad news.For years, nutritionists, dieticians, and medical professionals have emphasized dietary calcium intake and calcium supplements, along with vitamin D, as the key to strong bones. Yet, several recent studies show that people who take calcium supplements may experience more heart attacks and strokes than those who don’t.
It turns out that a portion of the calcium that is not taken up by bones can get into blood vessels, leading to hardening of the arteries. In other words, calcium can get into the wrong places and cause harm. Does this mean we can prevent heart disease by giving up calcium supplements? No. Research continues to show that heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women, whether or not they take calcium supplements.
To complicate matters for consumers, vitamin D – which is often taken along with calcium – has also come under some scrutiny.
The popularity of vitamin D supplementation has soared in recent years due to the nutrient’s many health benefits, and the realization that D deficiency is widespread. Taking vitamin D is generally a good thing. However, while the sunshine vitamin’s ability to promote calcium absorption is a boon to bones, it is potentially problematic for heart health, as it can increase the body’s calcium burden.
Okay, now the good news! A little-known vitamin, K2, is a fat-soluble nutrient that works with vitamin D to guide calcium into bones and teeth, and keep calcium out of soft tissues like arteries. It also activates special proteins that can defend against cancer.
In other words, vitamin K2 allows us to fully and safely reap the benefits of vitamin D and calcium, while also bringing its own health benefits to the table. Indeed, a lack of K2 could play a role in both major and minor ailments including osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, varicose veins, diabetes, facial wrinkles, and more.
VITAMIN K2–LONG MISUNDERSTOOD
MAJOR HEALTH BENEFITS OF VITAMIN K2
Vitamin K2 boosts bone health in several ways. Very simply, it activates a carrier protein that guides calcium into bones and teeth to improve bone strength. Studies show K2 and D3 together boost bone density far better than either nutrient alone. But the bone benefits of K2 exceed what would be expected from its effect on bone density. Bone mineral density (BMD) is only one aspect of bone health – although it’s the one that gets the most attention – and K2 seems to improve bone quality out of proportion to its BMD effects.
Best of all, the most recent vitamin K2 clinical trials show that optimal benefits for bone and heart health are seen within one to three years. That may sound like a long time, but keep in mind that osteoporosis doesn’t develop overnight. It took decades of K2 deficiency for calcium to leech out of bones, so building it back up in a couple of years is impressive.
Calcium isn’t normally present in our arteries, so the amount of calcium in the main arteries that feed the heart, the coronary arteries, is considered an accurate predictor of your risk of heart attack. Calcium can build up on the elastic tissues of any artery, causing the blood vessel to stiffen, which contributes to heart disease.
Multiple studies demonstrate the importance of K2 in relation to different kinds of cancer throughout the body. Increased K2 intake reduces the risk of fatal prostate and lung cancer, the two big cancer killers of men.
Calcium can accumulate microscopically on the elastic tissues in the skin. When this happens, skin becomes less elastic and sags. By preventing this accumulation, vitamin K2 helps maintain firm, resilient skin.
When calcium accumula-tion affects veins, stiffening them and slowing blood flow, the result can be hard, bulging, distended veins. The same vitamin K2-dependent mechanisms that protect arteries play an important role in preventing and healing varicose veins.
WHO BENEFITS FROM K2?
The benefits of vitamin K2 extend to everyone, throughout life.
VITAMIN K2 FROM FOODS
VITAMIN K2 FROM SUPPLEMENTS
Vitamin K2 is very safe for adults and children, with no known toxic effects. Vitamin K2 from food and supplements has no drug interaction, except warfarin (Coumadin). Other “blood thinning” medications such as aspirin, anti-platelet aggregators, non-warfarin-type blood thinners, or other medications do not interact with vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 – the key nutritional link
We now know that vitamin K2 is the missing piece to the puzzle of many widespread ailments. So many health conditions that we may chalk up to a normal part of the aging process are unrecognized, long-term nutrient deficiencies. By restoring our K2 intake to optimal levels, not only will we stay one big step ahead of many common health conditions, we will be able to continue safely benefitting from calcium and vitamin D supplementation!