November 2017Launch Digital Issue
Vitamin K Reverses Arterial Stiffness
Arterial stiffness increases risk of cardiovascular disorders and dementia.A clinical trial using long-acting vitamin K2 showed significant reductions of arterial stiffening. This provides a new opportunity to restore more youthful flexibility to ageing blood vessels.
By William Faloon
Heart Valve Disorders
AORTIC VALVE CALCIFICATION AND AORTIC STENOSIS
Preventable Causes of Aortic Valve Calcification and Aortic StenosisAging is considered a risk factor for aortic valve calcification and aortic stenosis. Congenital defects and infections can also severely damage the aortic valve.31,32,34 A large case-control study showed that the calcific degeneration observed in severe aortic stenosis is increased by these unhealthy factors:35
|History of smoking||72%|
|Cholesterol (>200 mg/dL)||111%|
Measuring Arterial HealthCalcification inflicts severe injury to arteries and heart valves.36-38 The pictures on this page show deformed calcified aortic valves. Observational studies show lower prevalence of coronary disease and arterial calcification in those with higherintake of vitamin K2.39-42 The “gold standard” for measuring regional arterial stiffness is the “carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity” test.43,44 People who score poorly on this test have higher rates of cardio-vascular diseases.
Reversing Arterial StiffnessA clinical trial was designed using carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity as one of the tests to evaluate the effects of supplementing with 180 mcg a day of a long-acting form of vitamin K2 (MK-7).19 This randomized, placebo-controlled study was comprised of 244 postmenopausal women aged 55-65 years. Baseline tests of arterial stiffness were performed and the tests repeated yearly for three years. At the end of three years, otherwise healthy postmenopausal women in the vitamin K2 group experienced a statistically significant 5.8% reduction in the stiffness index beta, a parameter for arterial stiffness, and a 3.6%reduction in carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity. The placebo group had a slight increase of 1.3% in the stiffness index and a 0.22% increase in carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity.19 The benefit was conferred upon the women with a higher baseline index of arterial stiffness in comparison with those women with lower baseline levels of arterial stiffness. This suggests that those postmenopausal women with more advanced atherosclerosis derive more benefit with vitamin K2. This is the first long-term human trial showing improvements in measures of arterial stiffness in response to long-acting vitamin K2. While the 5.8% and 3.6% improvements might not appear substantial, when realizing that calcification often worsens with age, the fact that there was a reversal in arterial stiffness compared to placebo is quite remarkable. This study helps support population-based studies associating higher intake of vitamin K2 with reduced cardiovascular incidence and mortality.39,42,45
Importance of Calcium Balance
How K2 Prevents Vascular Calcification
The take home lesson as it relates to healthy blood flow is: Matrix GLA Protein + Vitamin K2 = Barrier against calcium infiltration Matrix GLA Protein – Vitamin K2 = Vascular/soft tissue calcification
Where We Stand TodayMost adults probably suffer some degree of calcification, as intake of vitamin K2 in Western societies remains at low levels. A study published in 2007 tested vitamin K1 and the MK-4 form of vitamin K2 on rats.18 In the groups receiving high-dose vitamin K1 or K2 (MK-4), not only was there no further arterial calcium accumulation, there was a 37% reduction of previously accumulated arterial calcification after six weeks. After 12 weeks, there was a 53% reduction in accumulated arterial calcium deposits. The groups receiving the high-dose vitamin K1 and K2 also showed a reversal in carotid artery stiffness. This study provided intriguing evidence that vascular calcification may be reversible by high vitamin K intake.18 When we reported on this study, we postulated that people taking vitamin K supplements over an extended time period “might” induce a regression of arterial calcification. We emphasized, however, that “more human research is needed to establish this.” That human research has now demonstrated (for the first time) a significant improvement in arterial health in postmenopausal women with higher arterial stiffness who supplement with a modest dose of vitamin K2.19 This study also demonstrated a favorable 50% decrease in a marker of a calcium-blocking protein in the K2supplemented group compared to placebo.19 Previous studies show that people with higher levels of this circulatory marker (uncarboxylated matrix GLA protein) have elevated rates of chronic kidney disease and heart failure.58-60 For those who like technical details, vitamin K2 is essential for the enzyme that “carboxylates” the matrix GLAprotein. When matrix GLA is “carboxylated,” it shields arteries from calcium infiltration. Uncarboxylated matrix GLA, on the other hand, facilitates vascular calcification.58-60 In the new human study described in this article, a modest dose of vitamin K2 reduced uncarboxylated matrix GLAby 50%, which is an indicator of improved cardiovascular health.19
What are Ideal Vitamin K Supplements?
Potential to Spare Millions of LivesAn enormous body of published evidence indicates that common degenerative illnesses striking aging humans may be prevented by taking sufficient potencies of the proper forms of vitamin K. Yet most physicians don’t understand vitamin K’s critical role of blocking calcification of heart valves, arterial linings, and other soft tissues, while keeping calcium in bone where it is needed. Eye-opening studies shed light on the importance for people of all ages to optimize their intake of vitamin K to protect against soft tissue calcification. An urgent need exists to convey this information to the medical community. This may not happen any time soon because vitamin K is sold as a low-cost dietary supplement and not an expensive prescription drug. For longer life, William Faloon, Co-Founder Life Extension Buyers Club
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