We’ve had patients recently asking about the concern over the relationship between calcium supplementation and cardiovascular risks. When I dug a little deeper into the subject, I found that there are important supplementation combinations required for optimal utilization. One of the more important – and often overlooked – vitamins involved in Calcium and Vitamin D absorption, is Vitamin K. I’d like to spend some time discussing this important vitamin in today’s post.
Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that is usually associated with proper blood clotting. While that is one of the roles it plays, there are actually several different forms of Vitamin K, each with clear and distinct roles in the body:
Vitamin K1 is found naturally in plants, and is the form that is specifically designed to help with the process of blood clotting. That is it’s only role in the body, and it is the only form of Vitamin K that has this effect.
Vitamin K2 is naturally made by the bacteria that line your GI tract, and is the form that plays a role in healthy bones. It is derived from a completely different source than Vitamin K1 and one of it’s role is to help move calcium to the areas of the body that need it, such as bones and teeth, and away from areas that don’t, such as your arteries.
Vitamin K3 is a synthetic form and is not recommended for use in humans.
The interplay between Calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K is important in understanding proper calcium and Vitamin D absorption. Researchers have long known that Calcium supplementation can be helpful in overall bone health. Studies also indicate that adding Vitamin D to the mix can improve calcium absorption.
Recently, however, more focus is being given to the role that Vitamin K2 plays in directing where that calcium is actually deposited within the body. The recent reports of calcium supplementation being associated with increased cardiovascular risk has highlighted this important role. As Dr. Rheaume-Bleue states in the attached article
“For so long, we’ve been told to take calcium for osteoporosis… and vitamin D, which we know is helpful. But then, more studies are coming out showing that increased calcium intake is causing more heart attacks and strokes. That created a lot of confusion around whether calcium is safe or not. But that’s the wrong question to be asking, because we’ll never properly understand the health benefits of calcium or vitamin D, unless we take into consideration K2. That’s what keeps the calcium in its right place.”
And the additional good news is that Vitamin K2 has shown no toxic effects in the medical literature.
If you are taking high doses of Vitamin D, especially if it’s in conjunction with Calcium supplementation, you may want to consider adding Vitamin K2 to your regimen. Dietary sources of Vitamin K2 include grass fed animal products such as eggs and butter, goose liver pate, certain cheeses such as Brie and Gouda, and certain fermented foods such as nato. Vitamin K2 is also available in supplement form. The optimal dose of Vitamin K2 is still under investigation, so it’s important to talk with your health care practitioner about appropriate dosing.
In the attached article, Dr. Rheaume-Bleue estimates that about 80% of Americans do not get enough vitamin K2 in their diet to activate their K2 proteins, which is similar to the deficiency rate of vitamin D. Vitamin K2 deficiency leaves you vulnerable for a number of chronic diseases, including osteoporosis, heart disease,stroke, brain disease, and cancer.
Hopefully, this gives you a little more information on this important vitamin. I encourage you to take a look at the attached article, as it digs a little deeper into the role Vitamin K2 plays in your body.
Michael Lenz RPh, is a partner in Fallon Wellness Pharmacy of Saratoga. He has over 10 years experience in custom compounding. Michael has received extensive training in Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) and Adrenal Fatigue. He is an advocate for healthy eating and proper nutritional supplementation, and speaks frequently on the subjects of hormone health, nutrition and wellness. Michael is currently enrolled in the Institute For Functional Medicine’s Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner Program. He lives in Saratoga Springs, NY with his wife and 4 children.