Little-Known Vitamin May Slash Heart Risk by 57 Percent

Can one simple vitamin reverse heart disease? Dr. Leon Schurgers says it can.

As we explained on Tuesday, he’s a graduate of the prestigious University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. He currently leads research at the world-renowned Cardiovascular Research Institute.

Research shows that Americans have too much calcium in their arteries and not enough in their bones. It’s called the Calcium Paradox. And it leads to osteoporosis and heart disease.

But Dr. Schurgers says that it’s not because we get too little calcium in our diet. Rather, we get too little vitamin K2.

That’s because vitamin K2 controls where your calcium goes. And that’s the key to heart health.

Linking K2 to Health

A diet rich in Vitamin K gets calcium into your bones while removing it from your arteries. If your diet is low in vitamin K, you get calcium deposits in your arteries. That leads to plaque and calcification and ends in heart disease and heart attack.

Headed up by Dr. Schurgers, the Rotterdam Heart Study followed 4,800 participants for seven years. It’s the largest clinical trial to directly link vitamin K2 to heart disease.

The study showed that people who got plenty of K2 in their diet had 57 percent fewer heart attacks than those who didn’t.

The study also showed that plaque results when calcium leaves your bones and ends up in your arteries. This plaque leads to heart disease. And it presents heart disease in a whole new light.

Directing Traffic

Here’s how vitamin K2 works. Your body has an enzyme called Matrix Gla-protein (MGP) that is controlled by K2. MGP is a calcium-binding protein found in your bones. Research shows lab mice that lack this protein die as a result of ruptured blood vessels from calcified arteries.

In people, studies show that MGP is found near calcium in the your arteries. And Rotterdam study showed that people low in K2 are 57 percent more likely to have advanced atherosclerotic plaque.

What About K1?

If there’s a K2 there’s got to be a K1, right? There is. Vitamin K1 is found in green, leafy vegetables like spinach.

A study at University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands studied 16,057 women for eight years. The women had no coronary heart disease at the start of the study. The studied followed their intake of K1 and K2. The women getting K1 had 480 incidents of heart attack over the eight years. But the women getting K2 again had a 57 percent lower rate.

Researchers concluded that K1 had little effect on cardiovascular health. But K2 dramatically reduced it.

“K1 has little influence on cardiovascular health,” says Dr. Schurgers. “Natural K2 prevents arterial calcium accumulation.”

Power Up Your Diet

Increasing your intake of vitamin K2 keeps your calcium where it should be. In your bones and out of your blood stream. That stops plaque from building up and leading to heart disease.

“Keeping calcium out of our arteries and in our bones is a great take-home message,” says leading authority Dr. Richard Passwater. “The need for K2 seems straight-forward.”

Both Dr. Passwater and Schurgers agree that U.S. diets are critically low in K2.

So how do you get K2 into your diet?

Vitamin K2 is found largely in meats and eggs. But you have to be smart about adding healthy K2 to your diet. Plus, you must avoid unhealthy fats and processed chemicals.

Be sure to buy meat and eggs that are hormone- and antibiotic-free. Meat should be unprocessed and lean.

Your best bets are grass-fed meats and cage-free eggs. These are organic and natural and provide that much-needed K2.

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Health Topic: Heart and Cardiovascular

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