Foods, Health and Disease, Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Vitamin K2 Foods Benefit Cardiovascular Health

Vitamin K2 Foods Benefit

Cardiovascular Health

 

Vitamin K2 - Dr. Axe

 

Full-fat cheeses, eggs and beef liver might not be the types of foods that come to mind when you think about eating a heart-healthy diet. But, you’d probably be surprised to know that in recent years, one of the most researched nutrients in the field of cardiovascular health has been vitamin K2, found in these very foods.

What are the benefits of vitamin K2? While vitamin K1 has the important role of preventing blood clots and bleeding disorders, K2 works differently.

According to a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, K2 benefits include helping with nutrient assimilation, growth in infants and children, fertility, brain function, and bone and dental health. Unfortunately many people don’t get enough of this type from their diets.

Something that makes vitamin K unique (both types: K1 and K2) is that it’s not usually taken in supplement form. K2 seems to be much more beneficial when obtained naturally from vitamin K foods.

Unlike vitamin K1, which is mostly found in plant foods like leafy greens, you get K2 from animal-derived foods, like grass-fed meats, raw/fermented cheeses and eggs. It’s also produced by the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome.

What Is Vitamin K2?

While we hear the most about vitamin K1 and K2, there are actually a bunch of different compounds that fall into the “vitamin K” category. Vitamin K1 is also known as phylloquinone, while K2 is known as menaquinone.

Compared to many other vitamins, the roles and health benefits of vitamin K2 were only recently discovered. What does vitamin K2 help with? It has many functions in the body, but the most important is helping the body to use calcium and preventing calcification of the arteries, which can lead to heart disease. Emerging studies show a lack of this vitamin is also associated with diseases including osteoporosis.

If there’s one thing that we need K2 for, it’s preventing calcium from building up in the wrong locations, specifically in soft tissues. Low intake of vitamin K2 can contribute to plaque building in the arteries, tartar forming on the teeth, and hardening of tissues that causes arthritis symptoms, bursitis, reduced flexibility, stiffness and pain.

Some evidence also suggests that K2 has anti-inflammatory properties and may offer some protection against cancer, including research published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.

What the difference between vitamin K2 and MK7? K2 is a group of menaquinones compounds, which are abbreviated as “MK.” MK7 is one type of menaquinones that is responsible for many of the benefits attributed to vitamin K2. MK4 has been the focus of many vitamin K2 studies, but other types like MK7 and MK8 also have unique abilities.

Vitamin K2 vs. Vitamin K1

  • There’s some evidence that people tend to get about 10 times more vitamin K1 (or phylloquinone) from their diets than vitamin K2 (menaquinone). Vitamin K1 deficiency is very rare, even said to be “almost nonexistent,” while K2 deficiency is much more common.
  • A growing body of research now demonstrates that vitamins K1 and K2 are not only different forms of the same vitamin, but basically operate like different vitamins all together.
  • Vitamin K1 is more abundant in foods but less bioactive than the vitamin K2. 
  • Vitamin K2 from animal foods is more active in humans. This doesn’t mean that plant foods that provide K1 are unhealthy, just that they are not the best dietary sources of bioavailable vitamin K2.
  • When we eat foods with K1, vitamin K1 mostly makes it to the liver and then the bloodstream once converted. K2, on the other hand, gets distributed to bones and other tissues more easily.
  • Vitamin K1 is very important for supporting blood clotting, but not as good at protecting the bones and teeth as K2.

 

 

Uses

What is vitamin k2 used for? Here are some of the major benefits and uses associated with this vitamin:

1. Helps Regulate Use of Calcium

One of the most important jobs that vitamin K2 has is controlling where calcium accumulates in the body. Vitamin K2 benefits the skeleton, heart, teeth and nervous system by helping regulate use of calcium, especially in the bones, arteries and teeth.

The “calcium paradox” is a common term for the realization by medical professionals that supplementing with calcium can somewhat reduce the risk of osteoporosis but then increases the risk of heart disease. Why does this happen? Vitamin K2 deficiency!

K2 works closely with vitamin D3 to helps inhibit osteoclasts, which are cells responsible for bone resorption.

The Vitamin D and calcium relationship is important, as vitamin D helps transport calcium from the intestines as it digests into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, vitamin D’s job is done at that point. Next, vitamin K2 must activate one of its dependent proteins, osteocalcin. Research shows it then takes calcium out of the bloodstream and deposits it into bones and teeth.

For the best overall health benefits, it’s important to get enough calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K. Depending on your age, health and diet, you may need to take a vitamin D3 supplement, and possibly other supplements, too.

Vitamin K2 is essential for the function of several proteins in addition to osteocalcin, which is why it helps with growth and development. For example, it’s involved in the maintenance of structures of the arterial walls, osteoarticular system, teeth and the regulation of cell growth.

2. Protects the Cardiovascular System

Vitamin K2 is one of the best vitamins for men because it offers protection against heart-related problems, including atherosclerosis (stiffening of the arteries), which are the leading causes of death in many developed countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year more than half of deaths due to heart disease are in men.

A 2015 report published in the Integrative Medicine Clinician’s Journal explains that

Vitamin K2 is associated with the inhibition of arterial calcification and arterial stiffening. An adequate intake of vitamin K2 has been shown to lower the risk of vascular damage because it activates matrix GLA protein (MGP), which inhibits the deposits of calcium on the walls.

The Rotterdam Study, a very large study done in the Netherlands that followed more than 4,800 adult men, found that the highest intake of vitamin K2 was associated with the lowest chances of suffering from aortic calcification. Men who consumed the most K2 were found to have a 52 percent lower risk of severe aortic calcification and a 41 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease.

The men in the study with the highest K2 intake also benefited from a 51 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, and a 26 percent lower risk of dying from any cause (total mortality).

A 2017 study found that this vitamin was associated with a 12 percent increase in maximal cardiac output and that supplementation seemed to improve cardiovascular function in diseased patients. It seems to do this by restoring mitochondrial function and playing a “key role in production of mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate” (ATP).

3. Supports Bone and Dental Health

For decades, vitamin K was known to be important for blood coagulation — but only recently human studies have uncovered how it support bone health and protect against vascular diseases, too.

According to a 2017 article published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, “K2 may be a useful adjunct for the treatment of osteoporosis, along with vitamin D and calcium.”

Another 2015 meta-analysis supports the hypothesis that “vitamin K2 plays kind of a role in the maintenance and improvement of vertebral bone mineral density and the prevention of fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.”

K2 benefits the skeletal system by taking calcium and helping usher it into bones and teeth to make them solid and strong. A number of animal and human studies have investigated whether or not vitamin K2 can be useful for helping prevent or treat fractures, osteoporosis and bone loss.

Certain clinical studies have found that K2 slows the rate of bone loss in adults and even helps increase bone mass, plus it may reduce risk of hip fractures and vertebral fractures in older women.

K2 can enhance osteocalcin accumulation in the extracellular matrix of osteoblasts inside bones, meaning it promotes bone mineralization. A 2018 review reports that there is also evidence to support the effects of vitamin k2 on differentiation of other mesenchymal stem cells into osteoblasts.

Additionally, it helps maintain the structure of the teeth and jaws. Many traditional cultures included K2 foods in their diets because they believed it could help prevent cavities, tooth decay and plaque formation. This impact was observed in the 1930s by dentist Weston A. Price, who found that the primitive cultures with K2-rich diets had strong, healthy teeth although they’d never been exposed to western dental hygiene.

It turns out that getting plenty of K2 during pregnancy is also important for fetal growth and bone health. During fetal development, having limited osteocalcin proteins activated (which require vitamin K2) equates to undergrowth of the lower third of the facial bone and jaw structure. Some experts believe this is the reason so many children in modern society need braces.

4. May Protect From Cancer

Some research shows that those who have high amounts of K2 in their diet are at lower risk of developing some types of cancers. For example, vitamin K2 may help to protect specifically from leukemia, prostate, lung, and liver cancers.

5. Defends From Rheumatoid Arthritis Damage

In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, supplementing with vitamin K2 has been shown to result in a slowdown of bone mineral density loss and to decrease the amount of RANKL, an inflammatory compound, in the blood of subjects.

This suggests that K2 might be a useful supplement to a rheumatoid arthritis diet.

6. Improves Hormonal Balance

Inside our bones, K2 can be used to produce osteocalcin hormone, which has positive metabolic and hormonal effects.

Fat-soluble vitamins are important for the production of reproductive/sex hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. Because of its hormonal-balancing effects, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and postmenopausal women can benefit from getting more K2 in their diets, according to recent studies.

K2 can also helps promote blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity, which can reduce the risk for metabolic problems like diabetes and obesity. Some research suggests that K2 helps regulate glucose metabolism by modulating osteocalcin and/or proinflammatory pathways.

7. Helps Promote Kidney Health

K2 may benefit the kidneys by helping prevent the formation of calcium accumulation in the wrong places, the underlying cause of kidney stones. It may also do the same for other organs, too, including the gallbladder.

In addition, a lack of K2 and vitamin D has been associated in studies with a higher occurrence of kidney disease.

Foods

What foods are high in vitamin k2? Vitamin K1 is found in mostly vegetables, while K2 is found in mostly animal products or fermented foods.

K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it’s present in animal foods that also contain fat, specifically saturated fat and cholesterol.

Animals help transform vitamin K1 into K2, while humans do not have the necessary enzyme to do this efficiently. This is why we benefit from getting K2 directly from animal-derived foods — and why sticking to grass-fed animal products provides the most K2.

The 20 best vitamin K2 foods include (percentages based on daily value requirement of 120 micrograms):

  1. Natto: 1 ounce: 313 micrograms (261 percent DV)
  2. Beef liver: 1 slice: 72 micrograms (60 percent DV)
  3. Chicken, especially dark meat: 3 ounces: 51 mcg (43 percent DV)
  4. Goose liver pate: 1 tablespoon: 48 micrograms (40 percent DV)
  5. Hard cheeses (such as Gouda, Pecorino Romano, Gruyere, etc.): 1 ounce: 25 micrograms (20 percent DV)
  6. Jarlsberg cheese: 1 slice: 22 micrograms (19 percent DV)
  7. Soft cheeses: 1 ounce: 17 mcg (14 percent DV)
  8. Blue cheese: 1 ounce: 10 micrograms (9 percent DV)
  9. Ground beef: 3 ounces: 8 micrograms (7 percent DV)
  10. Goose meat: 1 cup: 7 micrograms (6 percent DV)
  11. Egg yolk, specifically from grass-fed chickens: 5.8 micrograms (5 percent DV)
  12. Beef kidneys/organ meat: 3 ounces: 5 mcg (4 percent DV)
  13. Duck breast: 3 ounces: 4.7 micrograms (4 percent DV)
  14. Sharp cheddar cheese: 1 ounce: 3.7 micrograms (3 percent DV)
  15. Chicken liver (raw or pan-fried): 1 ounce: 3.6 micrograms (3 percent DV)
  16. Whole milk: 1 cup: 3.2 micrograms (3 percent DV)
  17. Canadian bacon/cured ham: 3 ounces: 3 micrograms (2 percent DV)
  18. Grass-fed butter: 1 tablespoon: 3 micrograms (2 percent DV)
  19. Sour cream: 2 tablespoons: 2.7 micrograms (2 percent DV)
  20. Cream cheese: 2 tablespoons: 2.7 micrograms (2 percent DV)

The more vitamin K1 an animal consumes from its diet, the higher the level of K2 that will be stored in the tissues. This is the reason that “grass-fed” and “pastured-raised” animal products are superior to products that come from factory farm raised animals.

Going back to the fact that vitamin K2 comes in several forms, MK7 is found in the highest concentration in animal foods, while the other types are found in mostly fermented foods. MK4 is the synthetic form of K2.

For those following a vegan diet, K2 can be hard to come by — unless you love natto! This “stinky sock” fermented soy food is an acquired taste and is also the only vegan source of K2. Fortunately, it’s also the richest source (and the food used to make the type of K2 supplement I recommend).

 

Dosage

How much vitamin k2 do you need each day?

The minimum daily requirement of K2 in adults is between 90–120 micrograms per day.

  • Some experts recommend getting about 150 to 400 micrograms daily, ideally from K2 foods as opposed to dietary supplements.
  • Overall it’s recommended to tailor your dosage depending on your current health.  People with a higher risk of heart disease or bone loss (such as older women) may benefit from getting a dose on the higher end of the spectrum (200 micrograms or more).
  • Those looking to maintain their health can get a bit less, especially from supplements, such as around 100 micrograms.

Is it beneficial to take vitamin K dietary supplements?

If you take a supplement that contains vitamin K, the chances are very likely that it’s vitamin K1 but not K2.

While some newer K2 supplements are now available, the type of supplement matters greatly.

  • MK4, the form of K2 found in many vitamin K supplements, is a synthetic K2 with a short half-life. This means that to get the full benefit of it, you have to take it multiple times throughout the day.
  • Often, an MK4 serving size is thousands of micrograms to counteract the half-life of the compound. However, MK7 derived from natto has a much longer half-life and can be taken in more reasonable doses like those listed above.

Remember that vitamin K works with other fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A and D, so the best way to obtain these nutrients is to eat foods that provide many different vitamins — like eggs and raw, full-fat dairy products.

Particularly for those at risk of osteoporosis, calcium should also be a nutrient you aim to eat a lot of while increasing your K2 intake.

Deficiency Symptoms

What happens if you get too little vitamin K?

Symptoms of vitamin K2 deficiency can include:

  • Blood vessel and heart-related problems, like arterial calcification and high blood pressure
  • Poor bone metabolism and possibly higher risk for bone loss and hip fractures
  • Kidney and gallstones
  • Cavities and other dental issues tied to tooth decay
  • Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, like bloody stool, indigestion and diarrhea
  • Poor blood sugar balance and higher risk for blood sugar issues and diabetes
  • Metabolic problems
  • Higher chance of having morning sickness in pregnant women
  • Spider veins/varicose veins

Among adults living in industrialized nations, deficiency in this vitamin is considered to be rare. However, newborn babies and infants are much more susceptible to deficiency due to how their digestive systems lack the ability to produce K2.

Adults are at a greater risk of developing vitamin K2 deficiency if they suffer from any of these health conditions:

  • Diseases that affect the digestive tract, including types of inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or celiac disease
  • Malnutrition, due to calorie restriction or poverty
  • Excessive alcohol consumption/alcoholism
  • Use of drugs that block K2 absorption, which can include antacids, blood thinners, antibiotics, aspirin, cancer treatment drugs, seizure medication and high cholesterol drugs — cholesterol-lowering statin drugs and certain osteoporosis drugs inhibit the conversion of K2, which can greatly lower levels
  • Prolonged vomiting and/or diarrhea

Risks and Side Effects

Is too much vitamin K2 bad for you? While it’s rare to experience side effects or vitamin k2 toxicity from getting high amounts from food alone, you might develop symptoms if you take high doses of vitamin K supplements.

However, for most people even high doses of this vitamin, such as 15 milligrams three times a day, have been shown to generally be safe.

Are there potential drug interactions to worry about? If you’re someone who takes the drug Coumadin, a potential side effect associated with taking too much vitamin K is increasing your risk for heart-related problems.

Too much vitamin K can also also contribute to complications in people with blood clotting disorders.

Look for a supplement that specifically lists menaquinone if you plan to supplement. Because vitamin K supplements can interact with many medications, talk to your doctor if you plan to take a vitamin K supplement and are taking any daily medications.

Final Thoughts

  • Vitamin K2 (also called menaquinone) is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps with calcium metabolism, bone and dental health, heart health, and hormone balance.
  • Vitamin K1 is found in mostly green vegetables, while vitamin K2 (the more bioavailable form) is found in mostly animal products or fermented foods.
  • Benefits of getting more vitamin K2 from your diet include: helping to reduce your risk for calcification of the arteries, atherosclerosis, cavities, tooth decay, kidney problems, and hormonal imbalances.
  • This vitamin seems to be much more beneficial when obtained naturally from foods high in vitamin K2, rather than supplements. Consuming raw, fermented cheeses and other full-fat dairy products is the best way to get adequate amounts. Eggs, liver and dark meats are other good sources.

 

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Health and Disease, Uncategorized, Vitamins and Supplements

K2 a MUST to Prevent Cardiac Problems

heart2

Without Vitamin K2, Vitamin D May Actually Encourage Heart Disease

 

Vitamin K2 is thought to reduce coronary calcification, thereby decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. However, studies have reported inconsistent results — possibly because of the different effects of vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone or MK). Few studies have included both.

 

At least one study, however, has investigated the association of intake of phylloquinone and menaquinone with coronary calcification. The intake of both forms of the vitamin was estimated using a food-frequency questionnaire. It was found that K2 had an effect on coronary calcification, but K1 did not.

 

According to the study:

 

“This study shows that high dietary menaquinone [Ks] intake, but probably not phylloquinone [K1], is associated with reduced coronary calcification. Adequate menaquinone intakes could therefore be important to prevent cardiovascular disease.”

 

 

Vitamin K is an extremely important vitamin to have in your diet; it may very well be the next vitamin D in terms of the numerous health benefits it may provide. But, according to Dr. Cees Vermeer, one of the world’s top researchers in the field of vitamin K, nearly everyone is deficient in vitamin K — just like most are deficient in vitamin D.

 

Most people get enough vitamin K from their diets to maintain adequate blood clotting, but NOT enough to offer protection against health problems like arterial calcification and cardiovascular disease. Yet, as the study above showed, adequate amounts of the right type of vitamin K may offer immense benefits to your heart health, including reducing coronary calcification and thereby decreasing your risk of heart disease.

 

Which Type of Vitamin K May be Best for Your Heart?

Vitamin K comes in two forms — K1 or K2 — and it is important to understand the differences between them.

 

Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone): Found in green vegetables, K1 goes directly to your liver and helps you maintain a healthy blood clotting system. (This is the kind of vitamin K that infants are often given at birth to help prevent a serious bleeding disorder.) It is also vitamin K1 that keeps your own blood vessels from calcifying, and helps your bones retain calcium and develop the right crystalline structure.

Vitamin K2 (menaquinone, MK): Bacteria produce this type of vitamin K. It is present in high quantities in your gut, but unfortunately is not absorbed from there and passes out in your stool. K2 goes straight to vessel walls, bones, and tissues other than your liver. It is present in fermented foods, particularly cheese and the Japanese food natto, which is by far the richest source of K2.

Vitamin K3, or menadione, is a third form that is synthetic and manmade, which I do not recommend. Each type of vitamin K has different roles in your body, and emerging research is showing that vitamin K2, not K1, may be especially important. For instance, research published in Atherosclerosis found that high dietary intake of vitamin K2 is associated with reduced coronary calcification (hardening of the arteries), a result that should also lessen your risk of heart disease.

 

What made this study unique was that it compared dietary intakes of both vitamin K1 and K2, and only K2 showed a benefit. Vitamin K1 was NOT associated with reduced coronary calcification. This is consistent with separate research also showing superior health benefits from vitamin K2, including:

 

The Rotterdam Study, the first study demonstrating the beneficial effect of vitamin K2, showed that people who consume 45 mcg of K2 daily live seven years longer than people getting 12 mcg per day.

The Prospect Study, in which 16,000 people were followed for 10 years. Researchers found that each additional 10 mcg of K2 in the diet results in 9 percent fewer cardiac events, whereas vitamin K1 did not offer a significant heart benefit.

Why Might Vitamin K2 be so Beneficial for Your Heart?

Vitamin K engages in a delicate dance with vitamin D; whereas vitamin D provides improved bone development by helping you absorb calcium, there is new evidence that vitamin K2 directs the calcium to your skeleton, while preventing it from being deposited where you don’t want it — i.e., your organs, joint spaces, and arteries. A large part of arterial plaque consists of calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), hence the term “hardening of the arteries.”

 

Vitamin K2 activates a protein hormone called osteocalcin, produced by osteoblasts, which is needed to bind calcium into the matrix of your bone. Osteocalcin also appears to help prevent calcium from depositing into your arteries. In other words, without the help of vitamin K2, the calcium that your vitamin D so effectively lets in might be working AGAINST you — by building up your coronary arteries rather than your bones.

 

This is why if you take calcium and vitamin D but are deficient in vitamin K, you could be worse off than if you were not taking those supplements at all, as demonstrated by a recent meta-analysis linking calcium supplements to heart attacks.

 

This meta-analysis looked at studies involving people taking calcium in isolation, without complementary nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K, which help keep your body in balance. In the absence of those other important cofactors, calcium CAN have adverse effects, such as building up in coronary arteries and causing heart attacks, which is really what this analysis detected. So if you are going to take calcium, you need to be sure you have balanced it out with vitamin D and vitamin K.

 

Vitamin K2 Helps Produce Heart-Protective Protein MGP

Another route by which vitamin K offers heart-protective benefits is through the Matrix GLA Protein (or MGP), the protein responsible for protecting your blood vessels from calcification. When your body’s soft tissues are damaged, they respond with an inflammatory process that can result in the deposition of calcium into the damaged tissue. When this occurs in your blood vessels, you have the underlying mechanism of coronary artery disease — the buildup of plaque — that can lead you down the path to a heart attack.

 

Vitamin K and vitamin D again work together to increase MGP, which, in healthy arteries, congregates around the elastic fibers of your tunica media (arterial lining), guarding them against calcium crystal formation.

 

According to Professor Cees Vermeer:

 

“The only mechanism for arteries to protect themselves from calcification is via the vitamin K-dependent protein MGP. MPG is the most powerful inhibitor of soft tissue calcification presently known, but non-supplemented healthy adults are insufficient in vitamin K to a level that 30 percent of their MGP is synthesized in an inactive form. So, protection against cardiovascular calcification is only 70 percent in the young, healthy population, and this figure decreases at increasing age.”

 

Four More Reasons to Make Sure Your Diet Includes Vitamin K2

Vitamin K not only helps to prevent hardening of your arteries, which is a common factor in coronary artery disease and heart failure, it also offers several other important benefits to your health.

 

Fight Cancer …

 

Vitamin K has been found beneficial in the fight against non-Hodgkin lymphoma, liver, colon, stomach, prostate, nasopharynx, and oral cancers, and some studies have even suggested vitamin K may be used therapeutically in the treatment of patients with lung cancer, liver cancer, and leukemia.     Improve Bone Density …

 

Vitamin K is one of the most important nutritional interventions for improving bone density. It serves as the biological “glue” that helps plug the calcium into your bone matrix.

 

Studies have shown vitamin K to be equivalent to Fosamax-type osteoporosis drugs, with far fewer side effects.

Stave off Varicose Veins …

 

Inadequate levels of vitamin K may reduce the activity of the matrix GLA protein (MGP), which in turn has been identified as a key player in the development of varicosis, or varicose veins.               Lower Your Risk of Diabetes …

 

People with the highest intakes of vitamin K from their diet had a 20 percent lower risk of diabetes compared with those with the lowest intakes, according to the latest research from University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands. Past studies have also shown vitamin K to help reduce the progression of insulin resistance.

How Much Vitamin K2 do You Need?

How many people have adequate vitamin K2? Just about zero, according to Dr. Vermeer and other experts in the field. But at this time there is really no commercial test that can give you an accurate measure of your levels. Vitamin K measurements in blood plasma can be done accurately, but the results are really not helpful because they mainly reflect “what you ate yesterday,” according to Dr. Vermeer.

 

Dr. Vermeer and his team have developed and patented a very promising laboratory test to assess vitamin K levels indirectly by measuring circulating MGP. Their studies have indicated this to be a very reliable method to assess the risk for arterial calcification — hence cardiac risk. They are hoping to have this test available to the public within one to two years for a reasonable price, and several labs are already interested. They are also working on developing a home test that would be available at your neighborhood drug store.

 

In the meantime, since nearly 100 percent of people don’t get sufficient amounts of vitamin K2 from their diet to reap its health benefits, you can assume you need to bump up your vitamin K2 levels by modifying your diet or taking a high-quality supplement.

 

As for dietary sources, eating lots of green vegetables, especially kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, will increase your vitamin K1 levels naturally. For vitamin K2, cheese and especially cheese curd is an excellent source. The starter ferment for both regular cheese and curd cheese contains bacteria — lactococci and proprionic acids bacteria — which both produce K2.

 

You can also obtain all the K2 you’ll need (about 200 micrograms) by eating 15 grams of natto daily, which is half an ounce. It’s a small amount and very inexpensive, but many Westerners do not enjoy the taste and texture.

 

If you don’t care for the taste of natto, the next best thing is a high-quality K2 supplement. Remember you must always take your vitamin K supplement with fat since it is fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed without it.

 

Although the exact dosing is yet to be determined, Dr. Vermeer recommends between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for adults. You must use caution on the higher doses if you take anticoagulants, but if you are generally healthy and not on these types of medications, I suggest 150 mcg daily.

 

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Heart Disease: 4 out of 5 Heart Attacks are Not From a Block Artery.

heart

 

Heart Disease and Its Treatment

 

Did You Know That 4 in 5 Heart Attacks Are Not Caused by Blocked Arteries?

 

Heart disease is one of the most common chronic health problems in the United States, and we’re wasting tens of billions of dollars on ineffective treatments and surgical procedures. In this interview, Dr. Thomas Cowan, a practicing physician and founding board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation, shares recently published data1,2 showing the ineffectiveness of stents — a commonly performed surgical procedure used to remediate damage from coronary artery disease.

 

Stents Were Never Indicated for Anything but Angina Relief

There are a number of parameters that are crucial for evaluating the efficacy of a treatment for heart disease. For instance, will the patient actually live longer as a result of that intervention? Mortality is one parameter of assessment. Another parameter is the risk of heart attack as a result of the intervention. Alleviation of angina (chest pain) is a third. “There’s probably more, but those are the three big ones,” Cowan says.

 

Earlier research had already dismissed the use of percutaneous interventions (PCI) for most of these parameters, showing the use of stents had no impact on long-term rates of death, nonfatal myocardial infarctions (MI) or hospitalization rates for acute coronary syndrome. The sole indication for the use of stents was angina, as some of the findings showed it helped reduce prevalence of chest pain.

 

“What that means is the state of the literature, before this current Lancet study, was that doing stents or other interventions … has never been shown to help people live longer or to prevent further heart attacks. They have been shown to be of aid in people who are having an acute MI, but in anything but that indication, the state of the science was that they don’t help people live longer, and they don’t prevent further heart attacks.

 

As this study says, the indication was for relieving angina … It was actually not appropriate, and possibly even not allowed, to tell somebody we were doing a bypass or stent so that you would live longer or not have a heart attack. You could tell them that you could do it because you’re having chest pain, and this will relieve your chest pain,” Cowan notes.

 

Do Stents Actually Relieve Angina?

Interestingly, there had never been a double-blind study assessing whether, in fact, stent placement relieves angina. The reason for this lack of data was because doing such a study was considered unethical. In a nutshell, it was assumed that stents were beneficial, and therefore denying patients of this benefit would place them at risk.

 

Eventually, though, a group of interventional cardiologists in England got approval from the review board to perform a comparative study in which half the patients with stable angina received a stent, while the other half received sham surgery. The sham surgery consisted of inserting and removing a catheter in the artery without actually placing a stent. The level of chest pain and exercise tolerance was then assessed and compared between the two groups.

 

Lo and behold, there was no difference in chest pain (angina) between the treatment group and the sham group. This means that the one and only indication for doing a stent, which is to relieve angina, is also invalid. “It’s hard to come up with what the indication is at this point, except in the rare instance of an acute MI,” Cowan says.

 

Blocked Arteries Are but One Symptom of a Diffuse Systemic Disease

The ultimate tragedy here, aside from the exorbitant cost, is that patients continue receiving this useless intervention even though there are several simple strategies that are known to be effective, are far less expensive and pose no risk to the patient.

 

“The Atlantic … had one of the most … provocative, quotes I’ve ever heard from a standard cardiologist,” Cowan says. “This was from Dr. Mandrola … Her quote … summarizes exactly what we’re talking about … Quote: ‘This study will begin to change the mindset of cardiologists and patients that focal blockages need to be fixed.’

 

Focal blockages are these blocked arteries that they put the stents in. Quote: ‘Instead, these findings help doctors and patients understand that coronary artery disease is a diffuse systemic disease. A focal blockage is just one manifestation of a larger disease’ …

 

Now, the thing that was so shocking to me about that is… this is literally the first time I’ve ever heard a cardiologist admit that there is a diffuse focal disease here, of which blocked arteries is only one of the manifestations. That is such a heretical position. I’ve never heard a cardiologist say that. They say, ‘You have blocked arteries. That’s your problem. We’re going to unblock your arteries.’

 

To suggest that what they have is a systemic disease changes everything. I can’t emphasize that enough. This is not a blocked artery disease. A blocked artery may or may not be significant symptom in this disease. The question that I would ask every listener [to pose to their cardiologist is] … ‘I wonder what diffuse systemic disease this [blocked artery] is a manifestation of?’

 

I mean, that’s the question. ‘I’ve heard there’s a cardiologist who’s saying that this blocked artery is only one manifestation,’ which then, of course, is a perfect explanation for why stents don’t work. [Blocked arteries are] not the disease. They’re just one of the symptoms of the disease. ‘If that’s the case, then what’s my disease?’ I would be very interested to hear the answer.”

 

High Cholesterol Does Not Cause Heart Attacks

As noted by Cowan, many cardiologists would probably answer that question saying the underlying problem is high cholesterol. Alas, the evidence does not support this position either. “I actually looked up four papers, [one] in JAMA, three in The Lancet, showing that life expectancy tends to increase as cholesterol goes up, and that there is no relationship between high cholesterol and death,” Cowan says.

 

Many other studies have also come to this conclusion. In short, the “diffuse systemic disease” behind blocked arteries is NOT high cholesterol. So, what is? The answer to this question is detailed in Cowan’s book, “Human Heart, Cosmic Heart,” which we reviewed in an earlier interview. The book explores and tries to answer the question of why people have heart attacks if it’s not blocked arteries.

 

In his 2004 book, “The Etiopathogenesis of Coronary Heart Disease,”3 the late Dr. Giorgio Baroldi wrote that the largest study done on heart attack incidence revealed only 41 percent of people who have a heart attack actually have a blocked artery, and of those, 50 percent of the blockages occur after the heart attack, not prior to it. This means at least 80 percent of heart attacks are not associated with blocked arteries at all. So, what’s really the cause of a heart attack? Cowan explains:

 

“It’s obviously complex, and there’s a number of manifestations, but the three most important things that I point out in my book is, No. 1 … at least 90 percent of people who have a heart attack have an autonomic nervous system imbalance. Specifically, they have a suppressed parasympathetic nervous system tone, which is caused by a number of things, including chronic stress, poor sleep, high blood pressure, diabetes, i.e. a high-sugar, low-fat type of diet [and] smoking …

 

Conventional cardiologists are certainly aware of the role of the autonomic nervous system, which is why standard cardiology care includes beta blockers, which block the sympathetic nervous system, but again, the actual research on this does not show chronic high sympathetic activity. It shows chronic low parasympathetic activity. I would admit they’re similar, but they’re not the same.

 

What’s dangerous to people’s health is chronic stress, chronic sleep deprivation, high carbohydrate diet, low mitochondrial function. All the things that you talk about in your book [‘Fat for Fuel’] that leads to low sympathetic tone. Then, in the face of a sympathetic stressor, you have a heart attack. It’s not the same to say it’s a sympathetic overactivity, which is why I think we could do a lot better than blocking the sympathetic nervous system.”

 

The Riddle’s Solution

The second reason for heart attacks, Cowan explains, is lack of microcirculation to the heart. To understand how the blood flows to and through your heart, check out the Riddle’s Solution section on heartattacknew.com’s FAQ page.4 There, you’ll find detailed images of what the actual blood flow looks like. Contrary to popular belief, blood flow is not restricted to just two, three or four coronary arteries (opinions differ on the actual number).

 

Rather, you have a multitude of smaller blood vessels, capillaries, feeding blood into your heart, and if one or more of your main arteries get blocked, your body will automatically sprout new blood vessels to make up for the reduced flow. In other words, your body performs its own bypass. According to Cowan, your body is “perfectly capable of bringing the blood to whatever area of the heart it needs, and as long as your capillary network is intact, you will be protected from having a heart attack.”

 

Naturally, this raises the question of what might cause an individual to not have a robust network of capillaries. Not surprisingly, the same factors that cause low sympathetic tone also lead to loss of microcirculation. For example, smoking has a corrosive effect on microcirculation, not just in your extremities but also your heart. A high-sugar, low-fat diet, prediabetes and diabetes, and chronic inflammation also reduce microcirculation.

 

“We know that overt diabetes actually corrodes and destroys your microcirculation, your capillary network,” Cowan says. “That’s a predominant reason. We have millions of people living on high-carbohydrate diets, low-fat diets, which has an inflammatory effect on their microcirculation. There are other reasons, too, but those are probably the big ones.”

 

Naturally, one of the most effective ways to encourage and improve microcirculation is physical movement, so chronic inactivity will also deteriorate your body’s ability to maintain healthy microcirculation. “Again, conventional cardiology is aware of this issue. That’s why they use Plavix and aspirin, to keep the microcirculation intact,” Cowan notes.

 

The Role of Mitochondria in Heart Attacks

Another area of concern is your mitochondria. Unfortunately, this is an area that conventional cardiology is still largely unfamiliar with. In essence, angina is a symptom of poor mitochondrial function, causing a buildup of lactic acid that triggers cramps and pain. When this pain and cramping occurs in your heart, it’s called angina. The lactic acid buildup also restricts blood flow and makes the tissue more toxic.

 

When a cramp occurs in your leg, you stop moving it, which allows some of the lactic acid to drain off. But your heart cannot stop, so the glycolytic fermentation continues, and the lactic acid continues to build up, eventually interfering with the ability of calcium to get into the muscle. This in turn renders the muscle — in this case your heart — unable to contract, which is exactly what you see on a stress echo or a nuclear thallium scan.

 

“You see a dyskinetic or an akinetic muscle, which means it doesn’t move, because the calcium can’t get into the cells because the tissue has become too acidic,” Cowan explains. “Eventually, the acidosis continues, and that becomes the cause of necrosis of the tissue, which is what we call a heart attack …

 

By the way … [the] dyskinetic area … the part of the heart that’s not moving, creates pressure … in the artery embedded in that part of the heart, which causes clots to break off. That explains why you get clots forming after the heart attack, not before. This lactic acidosis buildup is one of the key events, without which you won’t have angina, and you won’t have the progression to necrosis.

 

Those are the three [primary causes of heart attacks]: The autonomic nervous system, the microcirculation and lactic acid buildup. Luckily, there are safe, nontoxic, effective ways to address each of those, either individually or together.”

 

Enhanced External Counterpulsation — A Noninvasive Treatment Alternative

One highly effective and noninvasive treatment option that will help improve microcirculation to your heart — which, again, is a common factor responsible for heart attacks — is enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP). It’s a Medicare insurance-approved therapy, and studies show EECP alone can relieve about 80 percent of angina.

 

As explained earlier, the reason you don’t experience a heart attack due to blockage is because you’re protected by collateral circulation. However, if you have diabetes or chronic inflammation, that will eventually deteriorate your capillaries, reducing this built-in protection. EECP works by inflating compression cuffs on your thighs and calves that are synchronized with your EKG.

 

When your heart is in diastole (relaxed), the balloons inflate, forcing blood toward your heart, thereby forcing the growth of new capillaries. It’s a really powerful and safe alternative to coronary bypass surgery for most people. Rather than bypassing one or two large arteries, you create thousands of new capillary beds that supply even more blood than the bypassed vessels. As noted by Cowan:

 

“New blood vessels mean more blood flow, and the blockage becomes irrelevant. This has been shown to be curative, meaning it will stop people with angina for at least five to seven years with one course of treatment … sometimes longer. It’s Medicare approved.

 

It’s paid for by insurance. It’s been studied in the literature. Again, at least 80 percent effective for getting rid of patients’ angina, which, by the way, was the last [indication] for stents, which is now no longer [a valid indication].”

 

The sessions are about one hour long, and most patients will need about 35 sessions to receive benefit. Aside from angina, it’s also effective for heart failure and diastolic dysfunction. Many elite athletes also use it as an aid to maintain cardiac fitness when they are injured and unable to actively exercise, as EECP basically works as a passive form of exercise. To find a provider, visit EECP.com.5

 

Interestingly, EECP also appears to have hormonal benefits. There are studies showing it results in decreased insulin resistance. Many patients also tend to lose weight, and experience improved blood sugar control. There’s cause to believe these beneficial side effects are related to the fact that it mimics exercise.

 

I was so intrigued with EECP’s benefits that I actually purchased one. They aren’t cheap; the traditional ones are close to $50,000, but I found a bright young entrepreneur, Louis Manera, who was well connected in the EECP community and is actually in the process of providing great new units at a significant discount. If you are a clinician, or even a patient with heart disease, this is something you might want to consider.

 

Other Commonsense Prevention Strategies

As noted by Cowan: Heart disease is “a diffuse systemic disease, and every person who goes to a cardiologist, I think, has the … right to know what this diffuse systemic disease is that’s being treated … I have my three-step opinion about what’s going on … The problem is I’ve never heard any cogent explanation in standard cardiology of what diffuse systemic disease they think they’re treating, besides high cholesterol, which turns out to be a red herring … People with higher cholesterol live longer, so that’s not the problem.” To summarize, three of the core, underlying issues at play that cause heart attacks are:

 

Decreased parasympathetic tone followed by sympathetic nervous system activation

Collateral circulation failure (lack of microcirculation to the heart)

Lactic acid buildup in the heart muscle due to impaired mitochondrial function

So, what can you do to prevent and treat these heart attack triggers? Here’s a quick summary of some of Cowan’s suggestions:

 

Eat a whole food-based diet low in net carbs and high in healthy fats, and add in beet juice (or fermented beet powder) to help normalize your blood pressure. Fresh arugula or fermented arugula powder is another option

 

Get plenty of non-exercise movement each day; walk more and incorporate higher intensity exercise as your health allows

 

Intermittently fast. Once you’ve progressed to the point of fasting for 20 hours each day for a month, consider doing a four- or five-day water fast several times a year

 

If you have heart disease, look into EECP, and consider taking g-strophanthin, an adrenal hormone that helps create more parasympathetic nervous system neurotransmitters, thereby supporting your parasympathetic nervous system. It also helps flush out lactic acid. Strophanthus is the name of the plant, the active ingredient of which is called g-strophanthin in Europe, and ouabain in the United States

 

Ground to the earth by walking barefoot on the ground

 

Get sensible sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D status and/or take an oral vitamin D3 supplement with vitamin K2

 

Implement heart-based wellness practices such as connecting with loved ones and practicing gratitude

 

Health and Wellness Associates

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Dr A Sullivan

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Vitamins and Supplements

Beta-Carotene Supplements May Increase Mortality Risk

betacarotene

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jun 12 – Beta-carotene supplementation leads to a small but significant increase in all-cause mortality and mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to results of a new meta-analysis reported in the June 14th issue of The Lancet. And while vitamin E supplementation is associated with no such risk, it does not exhibit clinically beneficial effects. Dr. Marc S. Penn and associates at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio analyzed seven randomized controlled trials of vitamin E treatment and eight trials of beta-carotene treatment, all of which included at least 1000 patients.

Beta-carotene use was examined in close to 140,000 patients, among whom all-cause mortality rate was 7.4% in the active treatment group and 7.0% in the control group (p = 0.003). In the six trials that evaluated cardiovascular death specifically, rates of death were 3.4% in the treatment group and 3.1% in the control group. Only one trial failed to show a detrimental effect of beta-carotene on death rates. Dr. Penn’s group points out that beta-carotene has adverse effects on lipids, and that cigarette smoking destabilizes the beta-carotene molecule with deleterious results.

Therefore, “the use of vitamin supplements containing beta-carotene and vitamin A… should be actively discouraged,” they conclude, and “clinical studies of beta-carotene should be discontinued.” Among the more than 80,000 patients included in vitamin E trials, the lack of efficacy leads the authors to “not support the continued use of vitamin E treatment.”

In fact, Dr. Penn told Reuters Health that a previous study has shown that vitamin E can block the effects of statins and niacin, which are established therapies. “So I think there’s no evidence they’re good and there is a hint that they may be harmful.” Therefore, Dr. Penn and his associates recommend that vitamin E be excluded in trials of patients at high risk of coronary artery disease. Dr. Penn also noted that ophthalmologists recommend large doses of vitamin supplements for macular degeneration. Certainly, if there is a risk of other diseases, and beta-carotene has been shown to be efficacious, the supplements should still be taken, he added.

Otherwise, “we should really be focusing on healthy diets,” he said. “The concept of vitamin supplements to overcome bad dietary habits is not a valid thesis, at least with vitamin E and beta carotene.”

However, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, blasted the Cleveland Clinic’s analysis, calling it “irresponsible, over interpreted, and old news disguised as something new for publicity purposes,” in a press statement.

The Council further notes that beta-carotene risk is associated primarily with smoking. They also maintain that vitamin E has potential benefits for vision, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and coronary disease.

References: Lancet 2003;361:2017-2023.

Karla Gayle

Health and Wellness Associates

Chicago IL

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