Vitamin K2 and Heart Disease: best to allow your gut microflora to produce it for you 05/24/12

Recent studies have shown that higher blood levels and intake levels of Vitamin K2 are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. The thinking is that Vitamin K2 helps deposit calcium in bones, not into your arteries. Calcification of plaque in the arteries increases risk of heart disease. Some experts now encourage the public to take Vitamin K2 supplements to reduce risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. I am more cautious in my approach to this until we see results of Vitamin K2 supplementation intervention trials.

The Risk of Vitamin K2 Supplementation

The risk of Vitamin K2 supplementation involves its other function in the body, which is promoting blood clotting behavior. Vitamin K is required for normal blood clotting mechanisms to work. Vitamin K deficiencies lead to easy bruising and a tendency for internal bleeding and hemorrhage. Conversely, too much Vitamin K2 can make blood clotting too aggressive, forming abnormal clots that can lead to  sudden death from a heart attack, stroke or lung embolism. In people at high risk for blood clot problems, doctors often prescribe coumadin or warfarin, which inhibits the effects of Vitamin K on blood clotting, helping to thin their blood and reduce clotting behavior. Some experts suggest that Vitamin K2 is not involved in blood clotting behavior, only Vitamin K1; but, this is not true. We have seen in patients prescribed antibiotics that these drugs kill many of the gut bacteria that make Vitamin K2, leading to a Vitamin K2 deficiency. The result is easy bruising and loss of normal blood clotting behavior. So, we have proof that Vitamin K2 is very much involved in blood clotting mechanisms. My concern is that supplementing with Vitamin K2 may increase the formation of abnormal blood clots – something you want to avoid. Just to be clear, Vitamin K1 is found in many green leafy vegetable foods and Vitamin K2 is made by the bacteria in the large intestine (normal microflora). Vitamin K2 is also found in some fermented foods – my favorites are fermented soybean products.

My Advice

It’s very possible that more optimal Vitamin K2 status helps to prevent heart disease and osteoporosis (and, possibly, prostate cancer).  The research is quite impressive for heart disease and osteoporosis prevention, in particular.  At this time I believe the safest way to achieve optimal Vitamin K2 status without increasing risk for abnormal blood clots is to regularly supplement with probiotics. In addition, eating soy-based fermented foods (e.g., miso, natto) and supplementing with prebiotics (FOS and Inulin) is valuable. Probiotic supplements help to ensure natural Vitamin K2 production in your intestinal tract and prebiotics (FOS and Inulin) are the food that fosters the replication of the friendly gut bacteria. This is one of the reasons I put FOS and Inulin into Adëeva Flora Essentials, which also contains a full spectrum blend of digestive enzymes for improved digestion and gut health, in general. Until we are certain that Vitamin K2 supplements don’t increase risk of blood clots and their complications, I would adhere to the recommendations outlined in this article as a means to help safely optimize your Vitamin K2 status, naturally.

Many references for Vitamin K2 can be found on this webpage

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