Health expert calls for greater awareness around vitamin K2
With World Osteoporosis Day just gone (Friday 20 October), leading health experts are calling for Australians to recognise the importance of taking preventative measures to safeguard their bone health.
While many are aware that calcium and vitamin D are necessary for building strong bones, there is emerging conversation among healthcare professionals about a ‘missing’ element in bone health management – vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 has been well-studied in recent years, with research suggesting that modest supplementation may preserve bone strength and reduce fracture risk, as well as protecting against vascular calcification.
One of Australia’s leading cardiologists and vitamin K2 advocate Dr Ross Walker says that the vitamin is an important piece of the bone-health puzzle, but also boasts other preventative qualities.
“Put simply, vitamin K2 helps the body transport calcium from the arteries to the bones, where it belongs,” Dr Walker said.
“For a long time, calcium was the only nutrient associated with bone health, but more and more we are learning this is no longer the case. In fact, research indicates that high calcium intake can have an adverse effect on cardiovascular health[i].
“New clinical studies are beginning to confirm many of the earlier theories on vitamin K2. By transporting calcium away from the walls of blood vessels and to the bones, where it is actually needed, bones are kept stronger for longer,” he said.
Bone health benefits
Several studies show that vitamin K2 not only has long term benefits when it comes to preventing the loss of bone mass density, but it can also help people already suffering from conditions like osteoporosis.
“Vitamin K2 does this by helping in the constant effort to rebuild your skeleton,” Dr Walker said.
“Osteocalcin is the main protein responsible for this process by taking calcium from the blood and binding it to bones. However, without vitamin K2, these proteins remain inactive.
“So, by having a healthy intake of vitamin K2, you fuel osteocalcin so that it may constantly strengthen your bones.”
Studies have shown that the impact is quite significant too, with 45mcg of vitamin K2 each day potentially leading to a 55% reduction in the amount of inactive osteocalcin in the body[ii].
Heart health benefits
Another well understood advantage of vitamin K2 is its ability to reduce the calcification of arteries. Arterial calcification is the build-up of calcium within vascular smooth muscle cells in artery walls, and occurs when the body receives too much calcium without certain other cofactors.
“Arterial calcification essentially turns sections of artery into bone-like tissue that lose the flexibility and resilience of regular arteries. This means it struggles to do its job of regulating the body’s blood flow,” Dr Walker said.
“By facilitating the transport of calcium, vitamin K2 ensures that calcium isn’t left to harden in the arteries.
In total, 4.2 million Australians experience some form of cardiovascular disease. The coronary calcium score has been shown in a number of studies to be the best predictor of heart disease risk. A Dutch study of 4,807 men and women showed that cardiovascular disease and death was reduced drastically by those who had sufficient vitamin K2 intake, leading to a 50 per cent decrease in arterial calcification and cardiovascular deaths[iii].
For more information please contact Danika Turner, on behalf of Pathway International, M: 0478 038 707, Email [email protected]