The research, published in the prestigious journal Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, was conducted by academics associated with the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands and a medical university in Amsterdam.
The third author is an expert with Nattopharma, a Norwegian firm that markets MenaQ7, a branded form of vitamin K2. The Norwegian grant was coordinated through Nattopharma, which supplied test material for the research.
“This is a study we’ve been working on for several years,” said Eric Anderson, vice president, global marketing and business development for Nattopharma.
“The majority of supplements featuring vitamin K2 that are sold today are in the bone health category. There is good evidence that vitamin K2 helps put calcium into the bones where you want it. But there is growing evidence that vitamin K2 has a cardiovascular health benefit, too, by helping to keep calcium out of the arteries,” he added.
The calcium paradox
“The work conducted in collaboration with NattoPharma under the Norwegian Research Council grant will provide further evidence that calcium without adequate vitamin K2 consumption might end up in the soft tissues where it is not wanted, rather than in the bone matrix, where it is needed,” said the study’s lead author, Prof Leon Schurgers PhD, Professor of Biochemistry of Vascular Calcification and Vice Chair of Biochemistry at the Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM), Maastricht University.
“In a recent study by Bolland et al., it was shown that calcium supplementation of postmenopausal women was associated with a beneficial effect on bone, but also with increased myocardial infarction, suggesting detrimental effects on the vascular system possibly by inducing increased vascular calcification. As calcium supplementation is needed for bone, the precipitation in the vessel wall needs to be inhibited,” Prof Schurgers added.
The paper, which was published this week, includes 144 research citations to help tell the story of calcium mobility and the various aspects of the so-called ‘calcium paradox.’ Calcium is a necessary nutrient for bone health. But it is also the major component of arterial plaques. When does calcium turn from necessary dietary component into atherosclerotic bogeyman? Can supplementing with calcium sometimes merely be pouring gasoline on a cardiovascular disease fire?
Metabolic underpinning of paradox
The paper lays out the multifaceted metabolic pathway that gives rise to this perplexing situation. It involves various proteins that require vitamin K2 for their proper function.
“Compromised bone and heart health are not merely age-related issues; rather, they are signs of a core nutrient deficiency: vitamin K2,” says Dr Hogne Vik, MD, NattoPharma’s chief medical officer.
“NattoPharma has driven the research confirming vitamin K2’s important health benefits, showing in human studies with healthy participants that the progression of hardening of the arteries can be halted and even regressed, and that bone strength can be improved with daily supplementation of MenaQ7 Vitamin K2,” Dr Vik added.
Anderson said with the accumulated research that is documented in the review, it’s time for vitamin K2 to take its place alongside other well researched ingredients. It changes the story from one of a fairly well supported marketing spin into an established fact of human nutrition.
“With the publication of this new paper it allows us to go back again, as people have done with omega-3s and with vitamin D, and say that these indications have now been validated,” he said.
Source: Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine
“The Bone—Vasculature Axis: Calcium Supplementation and the Role of Vitamin K”
05 February 2019 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fcvm.2019.00006
Authors: Wasilewski GB, Vervloet MG, Schurgers, LG