I've written a healthy bit on the enormous benefits of vitamin K2 (MK-4) Menatetrenone. To access those posts, click here.
Via Dr. Eades' excellent Twitter feed, I just got wind of this study on K1 (Phylloquinone) and its ability to modestly slow the progression of coronary artery calcium ("CAC" - 6% less progression than the control).
Conclusions: Phylloquinone supplementation slows the progression of CAC in healthy older adults with preexisting CAC, independent of its effect on total MGP concentrations.
There's also a media writeup on the affair. Let's probe.
Speaking to NutraIngredients.com at the recent Vitafoods show in Geneva, vitamin K expert Professor Cees Vermeer from VitaK at the University of Maastricht explained that matrix Gla protein (MGP) in the vessel walls is a hot topic.
“It is the most powerful inhibitor of soft tissue calcification presently known, and it definitely needs the vitamin K to be active in that way. So, vessel walls have only MGP to defend themselves against calcification,” he said.
So, what's "MGP," or, matrix gla protein? Lets close the loop, and Wikipedia will do just fine.
Matrix gla protein (MGP) is a protein found in numerous body tissues that requires vitamin K for its optimum function. It is present in bone (together with the related vitamin K-dependent protein osteocalcin), as well as in heart, kidney and lung. In bone, its production is increased by vitamin D.
Ah, vitamin D, again, eh (click here for my many posts)? So, what, all the experts be dammed, and get your unblocked sunshine and eat plenty of leafy green vegetables? Uh, no problem, but it's not my approach -- although I eat plenty of leafy greens. Let's continue with the article.
Overall, no significant differences in the groups were observed. However, in people with pre-existing CAC who took at least 85 per cent of the assigned supplements experienced a retardation of CAC progression of 6 per cent, compared to the control group. Such decreases occurred independently of changes in serum MGP, said Booth and her co-workers.
“Vitamin K supplementation reduced the progression of existing CAC in asymptomatic older men and women when taken with recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D. The mechanisms by which vitamin K conferred a protective role are still uncertain,” wrote the researchers.
So, is it really the K1, the vitamin D, or could it perhaps be that just an added bit of K helped the K and D work in better sync (something that happens naturally on a paleo diet with plenty of sunshine, BTW)?
But so now let me get to the far bigger news, something I've blogged on before. Though there are no studies in humans I'm aware of, yet, it is well known that in rats, high-dose K2 (MK-4 - Menatetrenone) doesn't just slow the progression of CAC, it actually reverses it and does so significantly. Stephan at Whole Health Source tracked that down some time ago. This is a must read post, folks. A couple of things to highlight.
In the group fed high K1 but no warfarin, there was about three times more K2 MK-4 in the aortas than K1, suggesting that they had converted it effectively and that vascular tissue selectively accumulates K2 MK-4. A high K1 intake was required for this effect, however, since the normal K1 diet did not reverse calcification. The rats fed high K2 MK-4 had only K2 MK-4 in their aortas, as expected.
I just had a brief email exchange with Stephan about this and speculated that emphasized bit before even looking up his posts (that's not to say he agrees, but he may post on this too, and we'll know). Essentially, since we're so bad at converting K1 to K2, perhaps a big enough dose of K1 helps.
But why not just go for the K2, as that's where the benefit really is? Well, then, instead of recommending people eat leafy greens, you've got to recommend they eat things like bone marrow, liver, meat, animal fat, eggs, fish eggs, foie gras and such. Can't do that, because those things clog arteries; uh, right? So we're in a sort of bizarre estoppel situation, where they're now finding important nutritional benefits for preventing and reversing heart disease, and these super nutrients are found primarily in the things we've been told will give us heart disease. A perfect storm of modern ignorance.
Now, stop and consider that for a second. Everything ads up, here. The Japanese have been hot on the trail of K2 and its ability to halt and reverse osteoporosis for years. Then there's the vitamin D. Huh, pretty paleo: sunshine, meat, animal fat, & eggs. Sound a lot like what primitive people experienced and ate for eons. Here's Stephan from the same post, again.
K2 MK-4 (and perhaps other menaquinones like MK-7) may turn out to be an effective treatment for arterial calcification and cardiovascular disease in general. It's extremely effective at preventing osteoporosis-related fractures in humans. That's a highly significant fact. Osteoporosis and arterial calcification often come hand-in-hand. Thus, they are not a result of insufficient or excessive calcium, but of a failure to use the available calcium effectively. In the warfarin-treated rats described above, the serum (blood) calcium concentration was the same in all groups. Osteoporosis and arterial calcification are two sides of the same coin, and the fact that one can be addressed with K2 MK-4 means that the other may be as well.
In the end, it's gratifying to see daily confirmation of stuff I've blogged over the last couple of years. For me, it's pretty easy and straightforward: follow the paleo principle.
The burden of proof is on the others, and more and more, it's becoming very clear that we have been duped by government, big agra, and big pharma -- all bedfellows in a money-making scheme that has already maimed and killed millions unnecessarily.
Later: Uh, that last characteristically inflammatory bit may be a little overstated. While there's no doubt to me that the state, big agra and big pharma constitute a perfect storm of harm, whereby nutritional and health problems that didn't exist have been created, with the same villains rushing in to "solve" them, for a price (both individually and societally), it is nonetheless a fact that billions of people -- individuals -- exist because of agriculture. Wishing that away would be to wish away all those lives, and I can't do that. Equally, the pharmaceutical industry has presided over miracles.