Vitamin K2 Pulls Calcium OUT of Arteries

April 15, 2013

Vitamin K2 Activates MGP – and Pulls Calcium OUT of Arteries 

 Reference.  Shurgers U of Maastricht 

 Could this be the cure for coronary artery disease?  We’ve learned all about Vitamin K2 activating proteins that put calcium into bone (osteocalcin) and reduce insulin in the pancreas.  Now we have another role for K2.   It appears that activating MGP (Matrix GLA Protein) is another role that Vitamin K2 does.  

Virtually every narrowing and plaque in arteries has about 20% calcium in it.  In fact, the artery wall starts to look a lot like bone tissue.  Vascular calcification is particularly hard on kidney dialysis patients. Vitamin K2 activates MGP just like it activates osteocalcin.  It “carboxylates” the protein, adding extra carbonic acid structures to the end of glutamic acids in the protein.  That allows MGP to tightly bind calcium and literally suck the calcium out of the artery wall.   

This suggests that the lack of activated MGP allowed the calcium to accumulate in the artery wall.  Once MGP is activated, that accumulating process ceases and then starts to reverse.  If calcium goes away, can the rest of the plaque heal?  We’ll have to stay tuned to see.  I’m betting it does.  

Here’s why. This is really interesting!   We have had a progression of heart disease in the last 100 years that has led to dozens of hypotheses as to its origin.  Many of those ideas may be partially right. But in the middle of it all is the French paradox.  How can those French, who smoke like chimneys and eat a menu that starts with the word butter?  Their food is much richer.  And they love goose live pate.  Aha!  Butter and pate.  The French like their butter.  Butter comes from cows.   Cows that eat grass have K2 in them.  Do you think the reason the French have so much less heart disease is that they have a constant intake of K2, whereas in America, we have cheerfully gone our way, stopped eating butter and switched to margarine and trans fats?  

The last time an American cow ate a blade of grass was back in 1920.  We tend to feed our cows corn and beans.  Certainly, they get a bit of pasture time, but the majority of their calories come from grains.  Considering that K2 is made in cow udders from K1, and K1 comes from the chloroplast in green plants.  And pate has some 300 mg of K2 in it, one of the highest sources of it naturally. This completes a very interesting cycle of mutual collaboration.  Vitamin D has been shown to have many salutary effects on heart disease but has had a bit of tarnished reputation because too much D may make calcium accumulate in arteries.  But we have studied D in insolation.  

It is becoming increasingly apparent that we need a complex web of synergistic nutrients.  Last week’s COMB study on bone showed that too.  Vitamin D stimulates the production of MGP protein.  Vitamin K activates it.  Vitamin D stimulates the absorption of calcium from the colon.  Vitamin K2 activates osteocalcin and puts it into bone, where it should be, and out of coronary arteries. 

 WWW.  What will work for me?  If you have any risks for coronary disease, you must be on K2.  If you are taking Vitamin D for all its beneficial reasons, you are only getting half the story.  I’m going to predict that we will see many, many more stories about K2 in the coming years.  All of them good.  So next week, we will have some more fun with the good stuff K2 does.   Stay tuned for wrinkles and faces. 

 Pop Quiz 

1.   The French Paradox refers to the fact that the French seem to have a diet that should make them have more heart disease because they eat fat from butter and pate, but don't. They have less.  T or F                             Answer:  True.  And grass-raised butter and pate are both very rich sources of K2. 

 2.  Vitamin K2 is the activator for the protein Matrix GLA protein that, when activated, binds calcium that has been deposited in blood vessel walls.  T or F                           Answer:  True 

3.  Vit K2 and Vitamin D are partners in that they seem to collaborate in making calcium be properly handled, putting it into bone and out of arteries.  T or F                      Answer:  True 

4.   American dairy cows tend to not have much grass exposure compared to historical norms.  T or F                            Answer:  Can't argue that.  True 

 5.   Vitamin K2 has been proven to reduce coronary artery disease. T or F                         Answer:  False.  Not yet.  All the mechanisms and basic science are lined up.  It's tantalizingly interesting.  It makes sense.  Not proven.  But not toxic.  It's just food. And should be there.  If it's missing, it should be replaced.  No reason to wait.  

This column was written by John E Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI.