Can Calcification Be Reversed?
I find the human body to be pretty amazing. It is capable of healing itself when given the proper tools to do so. These “tools” include nutrients, thoughts, rest, among other things – all dependent, to a degree, on the unique needs of the individual. Many times proof of this incredible healing capacity of the body is backed only by anecdotal evidence, which, no matter how valid, lacks the respect that formal research supporting this notion would receive. This is why I’m excited to share the well-studied benefits of Vitamin K when it comes to preventing and actually reversing calcification.
WHAT IS CALCIFICATION?
Calcification occurs when calcium ends up in the soft tissue – think arteries, heart valves, joints, breast, kidneys . . . even the brain – rather than in the bones where it belongs. As a result, the soft tissue hardens and therefore can’t function normally. Because the consequences of calcification can pose a serious threat to health, it is empowering to find out that there is a simple nutrient that can prevent this issue and even reverse it well after its onset – Vitamin K2!
CALCIFICATION OF THE ARTERIES (ATHEROSCLEROSIS, HARDENING OF THE ARTERIES)
Let’s look at calcification of the arteries first and foremost since it can create serious, sometimes life-threatening problems. Risk factors for this condition range from things as “simple” and somewhat hidden as chronic inflammation and oxidative stress to diabetes and kidney failure and even the use of certain medications. Digging even deeper though, calcification issues often originate with hormone imbalances and nutrient deficiencies; issues we can control. Today I’m going to focus on a nutrient that, when deficient, can wreak havoc on calcium distribution in the body: Vitamin K2.
THE EFFECT OF VITAMIN K2 ON CALCIFICATION
You may have heard about Vitamin K’s positive effect on the healthy clotting of blood. That’s probably what this vitamin is best known for, although it’s certainly not all this powerhouse can do: Vitamin K also regulates the distribution of calcium throughout the body. In other words, without optimal levels of vitamin K, calcium sort of runs amok, entering areas of the body where it was never supposed to be! All of this has very much to do with a protein that we all have lining our veins and arteries – Matrix Gla-protein. This protein serves us well, as it prevents calcium from entering the soft tissues, but there’s a catch. Matrix GLa can’t do it’s job unless there is plenty of vitamin K circulating in the bloodstream. If this is not the case, if we are deficient in vitamin K, Matrix Gla-protein cannot function properly and that’s precisely when calcium is allowed to enter the soft tissues and wreak its havoc. Suddenly these once-flexible structures turn hard and bony, setting the stage for compromised functionality and serious health problems.
DIFFERENT FORMS OF VITAMIN K
There are actually three types of Vitamin K, all of which are beneficial to health in a variety of ways. It is the “K2” form of this vitamin that most effectively activates Matrix Gla-protein, as described above. This is also the form that is most difficult to obtain via diet.
- Vitamin K1: Leafy greens provide lots of K1, the form of Vitamin K best known for regulation of our blood’s clotting ability. Some of this form does convert to vitamin K2, but its role in preventing calcification may be limited due merely to the inefficiency of that conversion process.
- Vitamin K2 (MK-4): We can get this form of K2 from grass-fed meat, eggs and dairy products. It is best known for its support of bone health and is used very rapidly by the body, hence it is difficult to maintain optimal blood levels of K2 using this form alone.
- Vitamin K2 (MK-7): The best source of this form of K is fermented soybeans and fermented cheese. It stays in the body for more than 24 hours, much longer than MK-4, which is why it is the preferred form of K2 when it comes to preventing calcification.
IT CAN BE PREVENTED, BUT CAN CALCIFICATION BE REVERSED?
So we now know that we can prevent calcification through the maintenance of optimal levels of Vitamin K, but can we reverse the calcification that’s already present? Well, there’s at least one study that supports that possibility! In a 2007 study, high-dose K1 and K2 (MK-4) given to rats with warfarin-induced calcification did, in fact, reverse artery stiffness. Does this translate to humans? To answer that question definitively, more studies are needed. Still, this was considered a positive finding and personally, in light of the many research findings in support of vitamin K’s positive role in preventing calcification, I believe it is certainly plausible that the results of this study could carry over to the human population.
The human-equivalent dose of the K2 used in this study ranges from 52 mg to 97 mg daily, very high by supplement standards. (See below for more information on supplementation with Vitamin K).
EFFECTIVE SUPPLEMENTATION WITH VITAMIN K
Since each of the three forms of Vitamin K: K1, K2 (MK-4) and K2 (MK-7) have proven benefits, it seems logical that a supplement containing all of these would be the most supportive to overall health. Do keep the following points in mind when taking a vitamin K supplement:
- Vitamin K is fat-soluble, so it will absorb more effectively when taken with the fattiest meal of the day.
- Find a supplement with all 3 forms of vitamin K to receive a variety of benefits.
- The MK-7 form of K2 is often derived from natto, a fermented soy product. If you are sensitive to soy or are estrogen-dominant, I advise seeking out a soy-free supplemental form.
- Speak to your doctor prior to commencing high-dose supplementation with Vitamin K.
- Vitamin K may interfere with the effectiveness of warfarin and other blood-thinning medication. If you have been prescribed such medications, do not take Vitamin K prior to talking with your doctor.
- If you have a clotting disorder, speak with your doctor prior to taking any form of Vitamin K.
RECOMMENDED VITAMIN K SUPPLEMENTS
I am soy sensitive, so I personally take only Douglas Labs brand K2-D3, which is soy-free. I like this because it provides me with a good source of Vitamin D along with K (Vitamin K is a cofactor necessary for Vitamin D to effectively perform its role in calcium metabolism).
If you can handle natto-derived K, several family members and clients have experienced positive results using Life Extension brand Super K. Both of these supplements are available in my online dispensary (see below) at a 15% client discount with free shipping over $49.
Although I’ve covered quite a bit about the benefits of vitamin K when it comes to calcification, there is so much more that can be said regarding various other benefits of this vitamin. So, if you would like to learn more, please contact me or schedule a free 15-minute telephone consultation!
Best of health to you,
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