Two recent studies have highlighted the importance of vitamin K2, particularly in protecting a healthy heart. In March 2015 the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology published a study that suggests statins may inhibit the production of vitamin K2…and in April 2015, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology published a study that revealed statin drugs may increase calcification of the arteries. What’s the link?
A pretty direct one! Vitamin K2 helps transport calcium from the lining of your blood vessels and to your bones, thereby helping to prevent calcification of your arteries. If statins deplete vitamin K2 as evidenced by the first study, then it stands to reason that might be why statins seem to be increasing calcification of the arteries as suggested by the second study.
How Vitamin K2 Protects Your Heart
Vitamin K2 protects cardiovascular health while promoting bone restoration. It activates two enzymes responsible for moving calcium out of the areas it should not be, like your blood vessels and soft tissues, and into areas it should be, like your bones and teeth.
First, it activates glutamic acid, which infiltrates the cells that make up the walls of your arteries. Here, glutamic acid binds to calcium and carries it out of the arteries.
Then, vitamin K2 activates osteocalcin, which takes the calcium and secures it securely into place in your bones and teeth. Without vitamin K2, calcium would calcify in your arteries and cause blood vessel blockages, thereby increasing your risk of a deadly cardiovascular event.
Getting More Vitamin K2
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to check for vitamin K2, but experts think that vitamin K2 deficiency is common in the developed world due to nutrient depletion, poor diets, and prescription drug-use. Those diagnosed with osteoporosis, diabetes, or heart disease are likely not consuming enough vitamin K2.
Not to be confused with vitamin K1 found in leafy green vegetables and equipped with anti-coagulating effects, vitamin K2 is readily found in fermented foods such as natto, cheeses like Gouda, Brie, and Edam, and grass-fed organic animal products such as egg yolks, butter, and dairy.
Supplementing with vitamin K2 is a bit trickier terrain. There are two main forms: menaquinone-4 (MK-4) and menaquinone-7 (MK-7). MK-4 is synthetically derived and has a short half-life. If supplementing (under your doctor’s supervision, of course), chose MK-7, which is derived from a fermentation process, has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects, and lasts longer (just one capsule should be enough to raise vitamin K2 levels in the body).