Vitamin K2-7 – the little known vitamin with a large impact
Vitamin K2 (MK7 version) (also called Menaquinone or MK7 ) is a vitamin produced by intestinal bacteria and also derived from natto and other fermented cheeses.
Heart disease, various forms of cancer, diabetes, muscle spasms, neuropathy, neurodegenerative diseases, bone fractures, etc, all seem to be linked to a deficiency of Vitamin K2 (MK7) The Western diet is almost completely absent of Vitamin K2 (MK7)
Three key areas that need K2 (MK7)
- Liver: K2 activates the clotting factors to facilitate the clotting cascade can then develop a formal blood clot.
- Bone – K2 activates a protein called osteocalcin. This protein puts calcium on the bones and requires K2 for the activation of that process.
- Soft Tissue Calcification: Vitamin K2 activates a protein called “matrix Gla protein” which prevents calcium deposits in the body in and removes it from soft tissues such as the inner walls of the arteries. Once this supply of K2 is exhausted, the body can no longer remove calcium from the body and calcification occurs.
Let’s visit these areas in more detail.
The Liver: Top-Priority in Vitamin K2 Utilization
When Vitamin K2-7 is consumed, it is absorbed through the intestinal lining and pulled up through a portal vein directly to the liver. The liver takes first priority in Vitamin K2 utilization. If the body is Vitamin K2 deficient, it won’t perform the important clotting cascade. If this occurs, a person could die from a simple cut or internal bleeding. The Vitamin K2 that the liver doesn’t use is then sent outside the liver to utilize in other tissues.
It is important to note that since the liver uses Vitamin K2- 7 first, if a person has depletion of Vitamin K2-7– it doesn’t usually show up in the liver. These deficiencies will usually be found in other tissues and organs such as: bones, cartilage, arteries, muscles, nerves, brain and heart
Vitamin K2 and Bone health
Many of us think about Vitamin D as the essential vitamin for bone health, but it is only part of the true picture. Vitamin D3 stimulates bone building osteoblastic cells that release a bone building protein called osteocalcin. Osteocalcin starts in an inactive form called Glu Osteocalcin. Vitamin K2-7 is what actually activates osteocalcin. The active osteocalcin, called Gla Osteocalcin, then takes the calcium and basically adheres it on the bone. Vitamin K2 is critical to assist in developing bone and calcification of bone in the appropriate way.
Vitamin K2 also reduces a process called bone resorption. The body looks to bone to grab calcium to use in other things like nerve conduction, muscle contraction, etc. Vitamin K2 helps slow down this process of bone resorption which is typically at a quick or high rate in most people so tend to lose more bone then they build. If this occurs too quickly, weak bones are created.
- Soft Tissues and calcium removal
There is a protein formed known as “Matrix GLA Protein” that is the only known mechanism to remove calcium from soft tissues in the body such as the inner walls of the arteries. Calcium is an inert, hard mineral that gets into the circulatory system and if it is not properly directed it actually gets embedded into your tissue. Vitamin K2 activates this Gla protein so that it can actually undo this calcification. If Vitamin K2 is depleted, calcification of soft tissue can occur.
Areas where calcification can form are:
- small and large arteries
- heart valves
- brain, where it’s known as cranial calcification
- joints and tendons, such as knee joints and rotator cuff tendons
- soft tissues like breasts, muscles, and fat
- kidney, bladder, and gallbladder
Key Products we carry at Renovare that support Vitamin K2-7
Information from Kiran Krishnan – Chief Science Officer of Microbiome Labs, Vitamin K2 Presentation.
Pictures from Kiran Krishnan Presentation
The Journal of the American Medical Association reported a recent study showing that Vitamin D at 400 IU, 4000 IU, and 10,000 IU showed increasing loss of bone density (but not bone strength) as the dosage increased.
They tested Vitamin D alone just like a drug is tested. A flawed idea for a number of reasons. First is that Vitamin D is NOT A DRUG! It does not work in isolation and should always be taken with Vitamin K2 which directs the increasing calcium levels from Vitamin D supplementation into our bones and teeth. Without Vitamin K2 taken with Vitamin D, our calcium is deposited into our soft tissues leading to blood vessel, heart valve, and joint calcification.
The next problem was using a CT scan (lots of radiation to boot) to evaluate bone density. Bone STRENGTH is what matters, not just bone density. Fosamax, Bonivia, and other drugs of the bi-phosphonate class have been shown to increase bone density while weakening the bone leading to catastrophic bone failure and fracture for some.
The last problem is focusing on large group studies trying to find what works for “average”. In 36 years of practice, I have yet to meet an “average” patient. We are each unique.
So what works?
First, “What gets measure, gets improved”
This means testing Vitamin D and blood calcium levels first. If dangerously low, low, or even sub-optimum, we tailor a Vitamin D with K2 supplement at levels we think makes sense. We use therapeutic levels of both with the clinically effective MK7 version of Vitamin K2 at therapeutic levels above 320 mcg per day. Then we retest in 4 – 8 weeks to make sure it is working. If the retest shows levels too low, we may need to add in Vitamin A to activate the Vitamin D receptor, increase dosage, or support liver, kidney, and gut conversion of Vitamin D to it’s active form. Sunlight and photobiomodulation support this conversion.
We also use a urine test to measure rate of bone loss. When bone loss is excessive we need to solve the puzzle as to why and of course retest to make sure it works. If not improving we may need to add supplements like hydroxyapatite, choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid, biotin and others to support bone health. We may need to reduce the hormones of stress and excessive inflammation that melts away bone.
In short, we need to SOLVE THE PUZZLE for each patient to support strong, healthy bones for a lifetime. Rarely can you solve the puzzle with one drug or supplement. We need to discover the root causes of the problem and adjust our lifestyle – including supplements – to fit our unique needs and measure to make sure it works. There is no AVERAGE at Renovare. Everyone is unique & special and deserves to be treated as such.
Nitric oxide is a critical signaling or messenger molecule. In fact, it is one of the components that will determine how long you are going to live. NO is linked to heart health and sexual health. Nitric oxide is critical to healthy blood flow to the brain, brain health, formation of new synapses in the brain, and protecting brain blood vessels from vascular damage.
It causes arteries and bronchioles to expand, allows brain cells to communicate with each other, and causes immune cells to kill bacteria and cancer cells. Nitric oxide production is important in protecting the heart, brain, liver, and other organs from low oxygen damage.
Nitric oxide expands the blood vessels, increases the blood flow, and decreases plaque formation and blood clotting.
However, when the body senses high toxic emotional stress, overwork, under-exercise, or smoking it releases less nitric oxide and then atherosclerosis begins to develop.
Penile erection also depends on the release of nitric oxide. Viagra and other drugs like it that reduce erectile dysfunction cause enzymatic reactions that increase Nitric Oxide.
Atherosclerosis and impotence are closely related. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of nitric oxide deficiency and correct them. Do NOT ignore Erectile Dysfunction – it is a sign of serious heart disease.
On the average, we lose 10 percent of our body’s ability to make nitric oxide for every decade of life. By the age of 40, studies show that we make 50% less Nitric oxide than we did as a teenager.
Being sedentary leads to less Nitric oxide production because your body is not stimulating its production; production is stimulated during exercise. Eating foods that are low in nitrates and nitrites also leads to decreased Nitric oxide production. Your body can only create Nitric oxide if it has the necessary precursors or building blocks. There are three isoforms of the NOS enzyme:
- Endothelial (eNOS): a signaling molecule that increases blood flow and artery health.
- Neuronal (nNOS): a signaling molecule that increases brain health
- Inducible (immune system) (iNOS): a signaling molecule which can be cytotoxic. Helpful during acute infection but extremely damaging to our blood vessels if it stays elevated. We use Nitric Balance to decrease this form and elevate eNOS and nNOS.
Another problem is the presence of fluoride. When fluoride is present, it converts nitric oxide into the toxic and destructive nitric acid. Nitric oxide will react with fluorine, chlorine and bromine to form nitrosyl halides, such as nitrosyl chloride which is harmful.
Accelerated aging, along with chemical and metabolic stresses damage eNOS. The resulting endothelial dysfunction creates a host of vascular disorders including diminished circulation of oxygen & nutrients, hypertension, and occlusive arterial disease.
Symptoms that may indicate low Nitric Oxide:
- Fatigue or low energy levels
- High Blood Pressure or decreased heart function esp. congestive heart failure
- Anxiety, irritability, or depression
- Insomnia & other sleep problems
- Loss of libido (sex drive) or Erectile Dysfunction (E.D.)
- Declining stamina
- Decreased workout potential or less energy at the gym
- Less stamina / endurance
- Declining Memory or Concentration
- Asthma or poor lung function
- Weakening bones – esp. osteopenia or osteoporosis
The depletion of nitric oxide also depletes endorphins and dopamine, which are the feel-good hormones in the limbic system. As a result, we become susceptible to Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, and dementia.
How do I get tested for Nitric oxide deficiency?
We use the simple and painless Nitric Oxide test in our office. This $10 test includes gathering saliva in your mouth, collecting the saliva (with your finger or a wooden tongue depressor), and placing it on the strip. It takes about 10 seconds for the results. The testing strip will indicate whether you are deficient, low, or normal.
Nitric Oxide testing is also useful for monitoring your levels over time. After 1 month of supplementation, it is important to be rested in order to ensure that your levels are back up to normal. Each person will require different amounts of dietary nitrates, supplements, and exercise. You should be sure to monitor your levels, especially if symptoms return or any of the signs mentioned above begin to occur (high blood pressure, poor heart function, erectile dysfunction, etc).
How do I increase my Nitric Oxide levels if my test shows they are low?
- Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) improves nitric oxide, blood flow, and energy in the brain is emerging as one of the most effective tools for cognitive enhancement.
- Take a Nitric oxide supplement such as Nitric Balance
- Exercise (Cardio or Fat Burning Exercise) & lose weight
- Increase dietary nitrates and nitrites
- Beets and dark green leafy vegetables, celery, kale, spinach, bok choy, leeks
- Avoid stomach acid reducers
- Decrease use of mouthwash which kills healthy mouth bacteria that make NO
From our previous 2 articles discussed the two strategies to support healthy blood sugar – the Short Chain Fatty acids and Insulin Signaling Pathway, we can see how we can improve. What we use to think was from our genetics – we now know is mostly from our lifestyle and we can change this.
Today we will be discussing the most exciting new pathway – the AMPK Pathway.
- The SCFA Pathway
- Insulin Signaling Pathway
- AMPK Pathway
AMPK is an signaling enzyme that acts as our “fat switch”. It determines whether we burn calories to make energy or store them as fat. If we are not making energy we are making fat and damaging free radicals.
Our lifestyle choices such as exercise and fasting activate this AMPK switch. Another powerful boost to this fat burning switch are supplements such as resveratrol, Alpha Lipoic Acid, burdock root, rose hips,short chain fatty acids, and berberine, can activate this AMPK switch.
What are the other benefits of activating our AMPK switch:
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces pain
- Improves energy
- Reduces Sugar Cravings
- Boosts fat burning and muscle building – key to successful weight loss
Below are a few of tissues and organs are impacted by this AMPK pathway.
It is really important to use professional grade supplements that actually work. It has been our experience that there are many inferior grade products on the market or products that have been stored in a warehouse for an undetermined amount of time. At Renovare, we carry only Pharmaceutical grade supplements.
Key Products we carry at Renovare that support the AMPK pathway:
Our previous article discussed the First of 3 strategies to support our blood sugar metabolism – the Short Chain Fatty acids. To read the entire article click here. Today we will be discussing the second pathway – the Insulin Signaling Pathway.
- The SCFA Pathway
- Insulin Signaling Pathway
- AMPK Pathway
Insulin Signaling Pathway
The Insulin Signaling Pathway is a biochemical pathway in which insulin improves the transfer of glucose into the cells. When we eat carbohydrates and sugar, the pancreas senses the rise in glucose and releases insulin to help with the transfer of glucose from the bloodstream.
Image from Apex Energetics
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), chromium, biotin, vanadium, certain mushrooms, berberine and gymnema8 have all shown to affect the insulin receptor function – the “lock” which responds to insulin -“the key”. It works by helping the insulin receptor “lock” respond better to the insulin “key” and in turn assists in the entry of glucose into the cells.
Chromium, Vanidium, zinc,9 Alpha Lipoic Acid and magnesium9 to assist in a process that gets the glucose from “storage” in the body to the cell membrane so that the glucose can actually enter the cell. Once it is inside the cell, glucose is then used to either make energy called ATP or get stored as glycogen or fat for later use.
If insulin receptor locks are poorly functioning10, the insulin cannot attach properly or the receptor becomes resistant to insulin. All the communication and signaling process becomes weakened or disrupted.
Without a strong signaling, less glucose enters the cell for energy production.11 Blood glucose continues to rise which results in high blood sugar. Over time, this can create many health problems.
Excess glucose is absorbed by the liver cells12 and stored as glycogen. Once the liver is too full it starts converting the glucose into fatty acids for long term storage as fat. This process requires a lot of energy and can create fatigue after eating. This extra fat can eventually lead to fatty liver, which creates more problems with our metabolism and promote insulin resistance by the liver.
When an individual lives in a world of chronic high blood sugar, inflammation increases and can affect the kidneys, eyes, heart and brain. Thiamine, N-Acetyl Cysteine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Vitamin E and other antioxidants help with this type of inflammation and related oxidative stress.
Key Products we carry at Renovare that support blood sugar balance and Insulin resistance issues:
Blood sugar metabolism can seem like a mystery at times for many. Scientists now are aware of different pathways to help support blood sugar metabolism and insulin sensitivity – which is termed Blood Sugar Dynamics. The 3 pathways that we will be discussing in this series are:
- The SCFA Pathway
- Insulin Signaling Pathway
- AMPK Pathway
Short Chain Fatty acids (SCFAs) are produced by friendly bacteria in your gut and are the main source of nutrition for the cells in your colon.1 Production of Short Chain Fatty acids, especially butyrate, in the gut microbiome is required for optimal health. Our low intake of fermentable dietary fiber in this modern world greatly impacts and limits this production. We tend to be a fast food, microwave society that eats very small amounts of diverse, fibrous foods.
Graphic from Apex Energetics
As discussed in a previous blog “Your Secret Organ” microbes in the gut are essential to our well being. (Click this link to read the entire article: Your Secret Organ.)
We now know that Short Chain Fatty acids also have a number of actions that are relevant to glucose metabolism. These Short Chain Fatty acids in the intestinal lumen (which is a hollow core or tube) bind to signaling receptors called GPRs2 in the colon causing them to release hormones (PYY and GLP-1). The PYY hormone increases the feeling of fullness so we are no longer hungry. The GLP-1 hormone increases pancreatic insulin secretion so that we convert sugar to energy instead of fat and free radicals. In other words, they are a master switches controlling fat burning vs fat storing.
Other major roles of Short Chain Fatty acids
- Inhibit Inflammation3
- Short Chain Fatty acids bind GPR receptors on immune cells to reduce inflammation and decreases pro-inflammatory markers called Nf-kB which is a known key element in creating insulin resistance.
- They are important fuel sources for the colon.4
- This helps with the intestinal lining cells so they stay healthy free of inflammation and disease. They also help the protective mucus layer in the colon.
- They improve intestinal tight junctions in the colon to prevent leaky gut and other auto immune problems.5
- This also reduces excessive inflammation
- By improving the integrity of the tight junctions, there is less immune triggering of inflammation and food sensitivity. This matter since excessive Inflammation is a known promoter of insulin resistance.
- They activate AMPK6 pathways which turns on fat burning and energy production.
As you can see, Short Chain Fatty acids have a direct influence and role in the Insulin Signaling Pathway and the AMPK Pathway and increasing these Short Chain Fatty acids has a major impact to our health.
Our microbiome and Short Chain Fatty acids and the interconnection of these blood sugar pathways can actually determine if you are Lean and fit, or fat and sick. Once our system has tilted into diabetes we are making lots of fat and free radicals. Your body cannot sustain health, balance and energy in that negative environment.
Key Products we carry at Renovare that support Short Chain Fatty acids and butyrate are:
- Mega Sporebiotic & Probiotic Max Restore
- Mega Mucosa
- Mega Prebiotic & OptiFiber® Lean
Upcoming article: Blood sugar balance and the pathways to help support it – Part 2
More articles on the Microbiome and Short Chain Fatty Acids (Click to Read)