Welcome everyone to another edition of the Doctor’s Note where we talk about what’s on our minds when it comes to your health.
This past week I revisited a podcast I did a year ago on Vitamin K. As many of you know, the most important vitamin in my own personal “vitamin stack” is Vitamin D with K2. At the 2023 A4M Annual Spring Congress in Florida (a favorite of mine), they talked a lot about Vitamin K and how important it is to your overall health. I know I have mentioned that many times since then, but I want to emphasize that once again in this Note.
Let’s get started.
Basic Facts About Vitamin K
- It’s a fat soluble vitamin, which means it needs fat to work on your system.
- It’s a coenzyme, which means it’s required for other reactions to take place in your body.
- It comes from the German word “Koagulation”, meaning “stopping bleeding”, so it does affect your clotting factors.
- Your body can’t store a lot of Vitamin K, but it does recycle in the body.
- You need to get Vitamin K from your diet or supplementation.
There are three basic forms:
- K1 (Phylloquinone) – Comes from plants and green left vegetables. It doesn’t absorb very well, and you get enough of it through your diet.
- K2 (Menaquinone) – This is the one that does all the work. Comes from animal sources. Especially fermented products, and liver. Also your intestinal bacteria produces this. Note: Gut balance is important.
- K3 (Menadione) – A synthetic form of Vitamin K that is water soluble, and not as important.
The main forms of Vitamin K2 are MK4, MK7, and MK2. MK7 is very long acting and is the workhorse of the Vitamin K2. It tends to work better for your bones. What does MK7 do? It acts on your platelets. It attaches to your platelets to form Thrombin, which helps to stop bleeding. This is why they call it coagulation.
There are certain medications that block the action of Vitamin K, Coumadin (Warfarin) is one of them. Be careful if you’re on Coumadin and Vitamin K. Note: Not many people are on this blood thinner anymore. Eliquis (the most popular blood thinning medication) won’t interfere with Vitamin K. So no worries.
Benefits Of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is known to help your blood clot, but this is not the only reason you would want to take it. In fact, in my mind it’s not even the most important. One benefit to taking Vitamin K is to help the Vitamin D bring the Calcium into your bones and not your arteries (plaque). You need Vitamin K2 to prevent calcification of your arteries.
Note: Inflammation and calcification of arteries are what cause arterial disease. As the saying goes, you’re only as old as your arteries.
When we do a CT Calcium Scoring of your heart, we’re looking for calcification in your coronary arteries that predict atherosclerosis, BUT note that 86% of people with no calcification on their CT scans have microcalcification in those arteries. Calcification attracts inflammation, so we have to limit calcification!
We also need Vitamin K2 to prevent calcification in your arteries. A recent study showed that one year of Vitamin K2 supplementation decreased progressive calcification by 50%. It also prevents lipid peroxidation. It’s an antioxidant. It supports mitochondrial production of ATP (energy). It blocks the effects of smoking, to some extent. It activates NrF2 (antioxidant pathway, which decreases ROS, reactivated oxygen species). Vitamin K2 does no harm. Only good.
A few other benefits of Vitamin K:
- Has a direct effect on protecting your endothelial lining (lots of beneficial effects for your heart)
- Helps bring the calcium out of your joints into the matrix of the bone (that you want)
- Helps bleeding
- Helps with bone formation
- Prevents vessel mineralization, i.e., calcium deposits in your vessels (one reason you should get a coronary calcium scoring)
Note: Abnormal clotting is not related to excessive Vitamin K intake. No known toxicity.
Vitamin K Deficiency
Symptoms of Low Vitamin K:
- Bleeding gums
- Easy bruising
- Blood in your urine or stool
- Dark tarry stools
- Heavy menses
People on a low fat diet are susceptible to being low in Vitamin K. So are people who have liver problems, inflammatory bowel disease, and cystic fibrosis. If you find yourself bruising too easily or bleeding, you might think about taking Vitamin K. Note: MK7 dose is 180mg.
Most people don’t think about Vitamin K, and they should. The body needs Vitamin K. It’s not just to prevent osteoporosis, it’s to protect your heart and arteries! With very few exceptions, every adult should be taking Vitamin D with K (specifically MK7).
As always, do your own research. Stay educated. Stay healthy.
Till next week.