A week ago I was lamenting missing the final days of the snowboard season. I had to keep my hand in a splint for a week to facilitate recovery after surgery to repair a broken bone. By next week I should be back to normal but for now I’m thinking about how to strengthen my bones. Most people are aware of the role calcium plays in bone health. We must not forget that bone health – any aspect of health – is not due to the role of a single nutrient or mineral.
Vitamin K2 works in tandem with calcium to build strong bones. Without vitamin K2, calcium regulation is disrupted. Now for the interesting part, vitamin K2 plays not only an important role in helping calcium build strong bones but low levels of vitamin K2 correspond to a higher risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis; if you have a lack of calcium in your bones, you are more likely to have excess calcium in your arteries. Simply stated, if you don’t have enough vitamin K2, the calcium you take in from your diet or supplement is deposited in your arteries, not your bones. Low levels of calcium in your bones leads to osteoporosis and high levels of calcium deposited along your arterial walls leads to cardiovascular disease.
Vitamin K – the nitty-gritties
For strong bones and healthy arteries we need to maintain appropriate calcium levels and these levels are regulated by vitamin K2. A nutritional solution to managing the link between osteoporosis and arterial diseases is more desirable than treating these conditions with medication.
Vitamin K comes in two forms:
K1 – is found in leafy, green vegetables and necessary for healthy blood clotting. Dietary sources of vitamin K1 can provide suitable amounts.
K2 – very small quantities are found in egg yolks, organ meats, and dairy products making it nearly impossible to achieve adequate amounts from our diet.
If you are supplementing calcium, consider switching to a combination of vitamin K2 with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. That said, anyone taking a blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin, must be under the supervision of a doctor if taking a vitamin K2 supplement.
There are two forms of vitamin K2
MK-4 and MK-7. MK-4 is short-acting and does not maintain consistent levels of vitamin K2 while MK-7 is long-acting working to retain stable levels of the nutrient. When you speak with your doctor, ask about the different forms of vitamin K2 to determine which form is best for you.
The strength of your bones and health of your arteries are closely related. Keep striving for a balanced diet and, if appropriate and under your doctor’s supervision, supplement to maintain good levels of vitamin K2 and calcium. Your heart with thank you.
Dr. James Kneller is a cardiac electrophysiologist treating conditions like Atrial Flutter, congestive heart failure and other heart-related diseases in Yakima WA