By: Dr. Colin O’Brien ND, Medical Director, Cyto-Matrix
For years now, we have heard about the seemingly endless benefits of vitamin D3. Indeed, vitamin D3 deserves a lot of this attention because of its role in up-regulating calcium absorption, proper immune function, mood health, cardiovascular function, skin health, gene expression and more. But now that the message is out about vitamin D3, it’s time to shift our focus to an equally deserving nutrient for optimal health: Vitamin K2.
Simply put, vitamin K2’s job is to ensure that calcium is directed to the bones and away from the cardiovascular system. Vitamin K2 achieves this shunting of calcium through the carboxylation and activation of various proteins, including osteocalcin and matrix-GLA protein. Osteocalcin is responsible for regulating bone mineralization while Matrix-GLA protein binds up free floating calcium and prevents its deposition into arteries. Getting more calcium into the bone has obvious implications for osteoporosis, but let’s consider the profound impact on cardiovascular disease.
Various studies have demonstrated the importance of vitamin K2 and carboxylation for heart health. A population-based study of 4,807 people with no past medical history of myocardial infarctions showed a strong inverse relationship between vitamin K2 intake and severe arterial calcification, coronary heart disease (CHD), CHD mortality and all-cause mortality.[i] In a follow-up to this trial, the PREVEND study followed 4,275 participants for 10 years and found a significant association between uncarboxylated Matrix GLA protein (the best marker for suboptimal vitamin K2 status), all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality.[ii] Elderly individuals with the highest uncarboxylated Matrix GLA protein levels have been found to have more than double the risk of CVD! [iii]
With these strong correlations and a better understanding of carboxylation levels, it only made sense to investigate vitamin K2 as an intervention for heart health, and the results have not disappointed. For example, a double-blind, placebo randomized control trial (RCT) of 244 healthy postmenopausal women examined arterial stiffness index to determine whether vitamin K2 had a positive impact on cardiovascular function.[iv] After 3 years of supplementing with 180ug of vitamin K2 per day, the arterial stiffness index was significantly improved and there was a corresponding 50% decrease in uncarboxylated Matrix GLA protein levels in the blood compared to the placebo group.
What about vitamin K2 in special populations? A double-blind RCT of 42 people with non-dialyzed chronic kidney disease found that 90ug vitamin K2 and 10ug vitamin D3 improved carboxylation numbers and reduced progression of atherosclerosis much better than just 10ug of vitamin D3 per day.[v] Even athletes can gain from the cardiovascular benefits of vitamin K2. A double-blind RCT of 26 trained male and female athletes found a 12% significant increase in maximal cardiac output after receiving 300 ug/day for 4 weeks and then 150 ug/day for an additional 4 weeks.[vi] This is a powerful change in a highly-trained and healthy population.
Given the ever-rising incidence of cardiovascular disease and associated impact on quality of life and mortality, it is becoming almost negligent to not prescribe vitamin K2 for all of our patients. The research is quite convincing. With the common practice of vitamin D3 supplementation and the subsequent increased absorption of calcium into the bloodstream, the need for vitamin K2 has never been greater. In almost all clinical circumstances where vitamin D3 is indicated, I recommend the addition of vitamin K2 so that patients receive the benefits of greater calcium absorption and bone support without increasing their risk of heart disease.
K2-D3 Matrix by Cyto-Matrix features 120mcg of menaquinone-7 (MK-7) per softgel, the preferred form of vitamin K2 because of its exceptional 72-hour half-life in the bloodstream and improved delivery to blood vessels and bones. This particular MK-7 is found as K2Vital®, soy-free and micro-encapsulated with a starch bilayer for superior protection against harsh environments and increased stability in the presence of minerals. K2-D3 Matrix also contains 1000IU of Vitamin D3 and a medium chain triglyceride oil base sourced from organic coconut oil to encourage optimal bioavailability. K2-D3 Matrix is additionally offered in a liquid dropper bottle for patient preference.
[i] J Nutr. 2004 Nov;134(11):3100-5.
[ii] Nutrients. 2017 Dec 8;9(12). pii: E1334.
[iii] Maturitas. 2014 Feb;77(2):137-41.
[iv] Thromb Haemost. 2015 May;113(5):1135-44.
[v] Pol Arch Med Wewn. 2015;125(9):631-40.
[vi] Altern Ther Health Med. 2017 Jul;23(4):26-32