Just the title is enough to strike a fear in most of us. Calcification of arteries is the number one reason for a heart attack. Sometimes you do get warning signs like breathlessness or heartache or heartburn. Other times you might just drop dead without any.
Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth. But why on earth it should start appearing in arteries or joints. People suffering from calcification also have other problems like high BP, obesity or bad teeth. Some people also manifest osteoporosis which means weak or brittle bones along with blockage of arteries. Is there is connect? Calcium appears at the wrong places and not available where it is needed the most.
The Calcium Balance at bone level
Contrary to the popular belief that some people have higher bone density which is why their weight is more than normal, bones are constantly in a state of creation and destruction. Bone contains two types of cells, one is the Osteoclasts which destroy old bones by taking the calcium out. Another type is Osteoblasts which are responsible for new bone formation. These are the cells which build up bones by taking calcium from the bloodstream and then do the bone formation.
At this point of time you should also need to know about ostocalcium which is required to bind the calcium. To activate ostocalcium you need Vitamin K2. A simple Google search on ostocalcium will show you results of all those calcium supplements flooded in the market to combat calcium deficiency.
But the fundamental factor missed by us is that calcium is abundant in nature and found in many food sources. Vitamin K2 however is essential for calcium absorption.
A few other essentials like Vitamin D3, magnesium and IP6.
A quick note about Vitamin K2
Vitamin K is a recent find. It was discovered in 1929 as an essential nutrient in blood coagulation or clotting. It is later split into Vitamin K1 which is responsible for blood clotting and is found in chloroplast in plants and Vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is further divided in MK4 and MK7. MK4 is found in animal sources while MK7 is found in fermented foods.
Vitamin K2 is a fat soluble vitamin. Meaning it comes with fat inside the body and it requires fat to get stored inside the body too. Other fat soluble vitamins are Vitamin A, D and E.
Role reversal of stem cells – The calcium issue at tissue level
The inner lining of arteries contains stem cells in the form of endothelium. These are osteogenic cells meaning they are capable of producing anything including bone. They are supposedly there to ensure that if there is any tear in the artery walls, it can be repaired. The stem cells start repairing the tear by building new cells lining the inside.
If these stem cells are producing calcium instead, there is a problem with the signalling system.
The tear in the inner lining of arteries occurs due to inflammation. Once that happens, calcium and cholesterol start filling up the tear as a temporary measure. But imagine having all these tiny tears all across your arteries. You will have a number of places where the calcium and cholesterol has accumulated. It is perhaps this reason that cholesterol has been made the villain by modern medicine. But rather than ostracising calcium or cholesterol you need to address the main reason for the cause of inflammation.
Role of Vitamin K2
By the time you must have a fair idea about something happening with calcium at the bone level and tissue level. Both places there is an in and out movement of calcium.
At tissue level the matrix GLA protein is given the responsibility to inhibit calcification. This protein has to be activated by Vitamin K2 and D3. This protein takes calcium, binds with it and takes it out of the tissue to the bloodstream. Matrix GLA protein is active inside the inner lining of the arteries too.
At the bone level, ostocalcium is required to bind the calcium. To activate ostocalcium, you need Vitamin K2.
So basically Vitamin K2 helps in calcium transportation. At tissue level it removes the calcium from the tissue and at the bone level it adds calcium to the bone.
Such important is the function of Vitamin K2 that it maintains the calcium balance in the body keeping the overall calcium in the body at steady levels.
The bizarre reason for deficiency of Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is found in animal sources and fermented products. We have consumed fermented products for time immemorial. We also consume animal products. So Vitamin K2 is also abundant and it enters our body along with the food. So why should there be a deficiency. The problem lies in the fact that it is fat soluble.
We experimented with low fat diet for the last 40 years or so. It has failed us miserably on many fronts. Vitamin K2 is one of them. It is a fat soluble vitamin. It can only enter the body along with fat. With a low fat diet, there is no way this crucial vitamin can enter and be stored in the body.
Fermented foods are a good source of Vitamin K2.