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Get Your “K” on and Protect Those Arteries

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Vitamin K, that unsung hero of fat soluble vitamins, plays a massive role in blood clotting, but did you know it also helps keep our arteries pliable and bendy. How does it do this? By preventing circulating calcium from being deposited into our blood vessels.

The What and Where…

There are 2 main forms of this nutrient: K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone).

K1 is found in leafy greens like spinach, cabbage, and kale, as well as fruits like kiwi avocado and grapes. It is most associated with being a key component of blood clotting.

K2 is found in fermented food, meat, and dairy products (specifically natto, hard cheeses, chicken, egg yolks, beef, and salmon). It’s also found in honey.

Menaquinone (K2) can be classified into several other subcategories, but the two most important are MK-4 and MK-7. These K2 subcategories are key components to calcium metabolism and heart health.

The How…

Research indicates K2 plays a significant part in regulating calcium deposition. This means it helps direct calcium to the bones and prevents calcification of the blood vessels and kidneys.

When calcium is deposited into blood vessels, pliability is lost, and the blood vessels become compromised resulting in higher risks of cardiovascular disease.

Benefits of Vitamin K2

  • Reduced risk of coronary artery disease
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers inflammation
  • Improves blood sugar control
  • Lowers cancer risk
  • Decreases mortality

Important Things to Know: Vitamin K and Pharmaceuticals

Warfarin (Coumadin) is a pharmaceutical that has been linked to osteoporosis and to accelerated coronary calcification. This drug utilizes the K2 pathway which antagonizes vitamin K activity. Please understand, if you are on Warfarin, you will likely need to avoid vitamin K1 AND K2. If you are on this medication, check with your doctor before supplementing.

Statin drugs such as Lipitor, Crestor, and Zocor have been shown to INCREASE coronary artery calcification. This is likely because statins lower LDL, the main transport vehicle of vitamin K. Lack of vitamin K in the arteries means more calcification.

In a Nutshell…

  • Vitamin D: Promotes calcium uptake and keeps it floating around the blood.
  • Vitamin K1: Critical for blood clotting
  • Vitamin K2: Provides cardiovascular protection, cancer prevention, and strong bones as it moves calcium out of the tissue into the bones and teeth.

Friendly reminder…when taking fat soluble vitamins, they are better absorbed when taken with fat. Feel free to cook those leafy greens in grass fed butter, animal fats or coconut oil.

For those taking blood thinning medication, talk to your doctor to see if a vitamin K supplement is recommended.

If you are not taking a blood thinner and want to take Vitamin K, combine it with Vitamin D (or get out in the sunshine…vitamins D and K work synergistically) especially if your Vitamin D levels do not fall between 50-70 ng/Ml. We test these on our Cardiovascular Panel as well as our Micronutrient test.

Other options for getting quality nutrients:

**Looking for recommendations for a variety of products or household items. Here’s our Resource Guide.

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