You might ask what do strong bones have to do with your arteries’ health. Most people have never heard of the connection but in order for you to have the best of both, you must have the right nutrients in your body.

One of the most important, but little known, nutrients for this is Vitamin K2. This is a fat soluble vitamin found in many green leafy vegetables in small amounts. However, if you absorb high doses of this into your body, it can improve your bone and artery health.

We all know that calcium is needed for your bones, but you need Vitamin K2 to “stick” the calcium to your bones to make your bones stronger. Here’s how this works. K2 activates certain proteins that result in bone formation. If you don’t have K2, these proteins in your blood stay inactivated and will not “stick” to your bones; they just float away and are not utilized to make strong bones.

One of these bone-regulating protein is called Osteocalcin. When activated by vitamin K2, it binds calcium to your bones making the calcium stick to the bones and creating strong bones. Without calcium sticking to them, your bones would be weak and brittle.

If you don’t have adequate activation of osteocalcin you get an increased risk of fractures and the osteocalcin just floats in your blood. One study of 241 women followed over 24 months showed that those with high levels of osteocalcin in their blood had a 50% increased risk of bone fractures. [1] Studies on experimental animals confirm these actions of K2, showing improved bon architecture, increased bone mass and mechanical strength, stimulation of the deposition of calcium into bone, and boosted resistance to bone fracture.

At the same time, if these proteins just float in your blood, they may then stick the calcium to places it doesn’t belong, such as your blood vessels, i.e. your arteries. When this happens, the calcium deposits may form plaques which can clog your arteries; the result could be a stroke or heart attack. The calcium in these plaques should have actually been used in your bones.

You can make your calcium stick to your bones versus your arteries by ingesting adequate vitamin K2. In so doing, you can also reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis or degradation of your bones that occurs with age, especially in women after menopause.

Many studies have linked low vitamin K2 levels to poor bone strength, fractures, bone loss and osteoporosis. One study evaluated women who had existing osteoporosis followed over 24 months. They found that those given extra vitamin K2 were found to have lowered spine fractures by up to 52% versus those not supplemented. Their conclusion was that vitamin K2, in people who have osteoporosis, effectively prevents the occurrence of new fractures.[2]

At the same time it improves your bones, vitamin K2 also improves your arterial health. It does this by activating another protein in your body called matrix GLA protein (MGP). This is the protein that, when activated, prevents the buildup of calcium in your arteries. In the inactive form, MGP allows for buildup of calcium inside your arteries, which could result in the plaque formation and blockage as discussed above.

A Rotterdam study followed 4,800 people for eight to ten years.[3] They concluded that vitamin K2 supplementation lowers the risk of severe calcium buildup in your arteries by 52%; it lowers the risk of cardiac mortality by 41%; and it lowers the risk of mortality by all causes by 26%. Thus demonstrating the importance of ingesting adequate vitamin K2.

Other nutrients to help your bones include calcium, magnesium, boron, silicon, and of course, vitamin D. Vitamin D performs many health improving functions in the body. One of these is to make sure adequate calcium is absorbed into the body. This improved bone strength has been proven in multiple studies. One study followed a large population of postmenopausal women (over 72,000) over 10 years. They found that those who had high intake of vitamin D had a 43% decreased risk of having hip fractures compared with women who had intake of vitamin D.[4]

Other nutrients to help improve your cardiovascular health, besides vitamin K2 and vitamin D, include omega 3 free fatty acids, tocotrienols (including vitamin E) and antioxidants such as resveratrol.

Taking supplements is easy to do and will benefit your health tremendously. Most of the time you can’t get enough of the above nutrients in the foods you eat or in a regular multiple vitamin supplement. Consider giving yourself improved bone and heart health by ingesting all the above supplements in adequate amount for the best result.

 

References:

[1] Masataka Shiraki1, Yumiko Shiraki MD, Ph.D.1,*, Choju Aoki1, Masakazu Miura. Vitamin K2 (Menatetrenone) Effectively Prevents Fractures and Sustains Lumbar Bone Mineral Density in Osteoporosis. Article first published online: 18 FEB 2010. DOI: 10.1359/jbmr.2000.15.3.515.
[2] Shiraki M, Shiraki Y, Aoki C, Miura M. Vitamin K2 (menatetrenone) effectively prevents fractures and sustains lumbar bone mineral density in osteoporosis. J Bone Miner Res. 2000 Mar;15(3):515-21.

[3] Johanna M. Geleijnse, Cees Vermeer, Diederick E. Grobbee, Leon J. Schurgers, Marjo H. J. Knapen, Irene M. van der Meer, Albert Hofman, and Jacqueline C. M. Witteman. Dietary Intake of Menaquinone Is Associated with a Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: The Rotterdam Study. J. Nutr. November 1, 2004 vol. 134 no. 11 3100-3105

[4] Diane Feskanich, Walter C Willett, and Graham A Colditz. Calcium, vitamin D, milk consumption, and hip fractures: a prospective study among postmenopausal women1,2, 3. Am J Clin Nutr February 2003 vol. 77 no. 2 504-511