What do you know about calcium?
Most of us know we need calcium for healthy bones, teeth, as a buffer for acidity, muscular contractions, heart rhythm, and possibly more. What many of us don’t know is that if not delivered and utilized properly, calcium can dangerously attempt to make bone in the wrong places—like your arteries!
There is a special nutrient that controls calcium, keeping it in your bones and out of your blood vessels: vitamin K2!
Inadequate vitamin K2 can result in calcium (plaque) accumulation in the arteries, rendering them stiff and eventually brittle. Lucille Ball, star of I Love Lucy, suffered from accumulation of calcium in her arteries, eventually making her arteries stiff, rigid, and brittle.
While calcium is easily attained from a healthy diet, vitamin K2 is more difficult to find, and many folks run low. Vitamin K2 is a common deficiency that increases with age, putting much of the aging population at risk for heart and bone concerns.1
Two Basic Forms of Vitamin K
Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone)
This type comes from green vegetables and is involved in maintaining proper viscosity of the blood, making sure it coagulates properly from a cut or injury.
Vitamin K1 consumption from a diet high in leafy greens can help block calcium from being deposited into the arteries, but it does so very inefficiently.
Vitamin K2 (menaquinone)
This type is derived from bacteria and can also be found in meat, dairy, eggs, and fermented foods, such as cheese, yogurt, and natto—a Japanese dish of fermented soybeans.2 Vitamin K2 is essential for making new bone and keeping calcium from depositing in the arteries.
Delivery of calcium to bone is a simple process. It starts with vitamin D3 in the intestinal tract, which carries calcium into the bloodstream. Then, vitamin K2 activates matrix GLA proteins that block calcium from entering soft tissues, like the arterial wall, while activating bones to let calcium in and lay down new bone.1
You can see how without vitamin K2, the arteries have no protection from excess calcium!
Without a doubt, Western diets contain insufficient vitamin K2. Vitamin K, particularly as K2, is nearly nonexistent in processed/junk foods, but little is consumed even in a healthy modern diet. The only exception seems to be the Japanese diet, in which high quantities of foods rich in vitamin K2, such as natto, are regularly consumed.
To effectively support healthy bones and elastic arteries, you need sufficient vitamin K2. Populations with higher intake of vitamin K2 have stronger bones and less arterial calcium deposits.1
At least 32 mcg of dietary vitamin K2 per day is needed to significantly lower risks for blood-vessel calcification, heart health concerns, and to maintain a healthy level of arterial wall elasticity.
Particularly in postmenopausal women, vitamin K2 in combination with vitamin D3 has been found to support healthy arterial elasticity.1,4