Most of us are aware that we need calcium for healthy bones, teeth, as a buffer for acidity, muscular contractions, heart rhythm and much more. What many people don’t know is that if not delivered and utilized properly, it can dangerously attempt to make bone in the wrong places—like your arteries!
There is a special vitamin that controls calcium, keeping it in your bones and out of your blood vessels: Vitamin K2!
An inadequate supply of vitamin k2 can result in calcium (plaque) accumulation in the arteries. This renders them stiff and eventually brittle. Lucille Ball, the star of I Love Lucy, suffered from the accumulation of unwanted calcium in her arteries which eventually made her arteries stiff, rigid and brittle.
While calcium is easily attained from a healthy diet, vitamin K2 is more difficult to attain 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 health concerns. (1)
The Two Basic Forms of Vitamin K
- Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone)
This type comes from green vegetables and is involved in maintaining the proper viscosity of the blood, making sure it can coagulate 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.
The delivery of calcium to the bone is a simple process. It starts with vitamin D3 in the intestinal tract, which carries the 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 the calcium in and lay down new bone. (1)
Higher Vitamin K2 Intake = Less Arterial Plaque Deposits
Without a doubt, western diets contain insufficient amounts of vitamin K2. Vitamin K, particularly as vitamin K2, is nearly nonexistent in processed/junk foods, with little being consumed even in a healthy Western 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 as well as elastic arteries free of calcium build-up, a sufficient amount of vitamin K2 must be present.
Populations who have a 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 the risks for blood-vessel calcification, heart health concerns, and to maintain a healthy level of elasticity of the artery walls.
Particularly in postmenopausal women, vitamin K2 in combination with vitamin D3 has been found to support healthy arterial elasticity. (1,4)