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The Next Big Thing In Health and Nutrition!

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Usually I like to take information that I find from many different sources, put it together and give you my opinion on it here on my blog.  Well today I came across and article on Dr. Mercola’s health site, www.mercola.com, that was so good that I wanted to re-post it here on my blog in its entirety without commenting on it.  I think Dr. Mercola said everything about as well as it could be said.  This information is on vitamin K and it’s very well put together.  The article is a bit long but well worth the read! Please enjoy!

Dr. Mercola’s Article

Vitamin K may very well be “the next vitamin D” as research continues to illuminate a growing number of benefits to your health.

It is probably where vitamin D was ten years ago with respect to its appreciation as a vital nutrient that has far more benefits than was originally recognized.

And, according to Dr. Cees Vermeer, one of the world’s top researchers in the field of vitamin K, nearly everyone is deficient in vitamin K – just like most are deficient in D.

Vitamin K measurements in blood plasma can be done accurately, but the results are not necessarily helpful because they mainly reflect what you ate yesterday. Because of this, we will have to trust Dr. Vermeer on his assessment that most are too deficient to reap all of its health benefits. Vitamin K researchers across the world will acknowledge him as a leader in this field.

Most people get enough K from their diets to maintain adequate blood clotting, but NOT enough to offer protection against the following health problems—and the list is growing:

  • Arterial calcification, cardiovascular disease and varicose veins
  • Osteoporosis
  • Prostate cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer and leukemia
  • Brain health problems, including dementia, the specifics of which are still being studied

Vitamin K comes in two forms, and it is important to understand the differences between them before devising your nutritional plan of attack.

The Two Basic Types of Vitamin K

Vitamin K can be classified as either K1 or K2:

  1. Vitamin K1: Found in green vegetables, K1 goes directly to your liver and helps you maintain a healthy blood clotting system. (This is the kind of K that infants need to help prevent a serious bleeding disorder.) It is also vitamin K1 that keeps your own blood vessels from calcifying, and helps your bones retain calcium and develop the right crystalline structure.
  2. Vitamin K2: Bacteria produce this type of vitamin K. It is present in high quantities in your gut, but unfortunately is not absorbed from there and passes out in your stool. K2 goes straight to vessel walls, bones, and tissues other than your liver. It is present in fermented foods, particularly cheese and the Japanese food natto, which is by far the richest source of K2.

Vitamin K2 can convert to K1 in your body, but there are some problems with this, which I will discuss shortly. As a supplement, K1 is less expensive, which is why it’s the form used for neonates.

Making matters even more complex, there are several different forms of vitamin K2.

MK8 and MK9 come primarily from dairy products. MK4 and MK7 are the two most significant forms of K2, and act very differently in your body:

  • MK4 is a synthetic product, very similar to vitamin K1, and your body is capable of converting K1 into MK4. However, MK4 has a very short half-life of about one hour, making it a poor candidate as a dietary supplement. After reaching your intestines, it remains mostly in your liver, where it is useful in synthesizing blood-clotting factors.
  • MK7 is a newer agent with more practical applications because it stays in your body longer; its half-life is three days, meaning you have a much better chance of building up a consistent blood level, compared to MK4 or K1. MK7 is extracted from the Japanese fermented soy product called natto. You could actually get loads of MK7 from consuming natto as it is relatively inexpensive, and is available in most Asian food markets. Few people, however, tolerate it’s smell and slimy texture.

Let’s take a look at what scientific studies are showing us about vitamin K2.

Vitamin K Research has Come a Long Way

In 2008, a German research group discovered that vitamin K2 provides substantial protection from prostate cancer[1], which is one of the leading causes of cancer among men in the United States. According to Dr. Vermeer, men taking the highest amounts of K2 have about 50 percent less prostate cancer.

Research results are similarly encouraging for the benefits of vitamin K to your cardiac health:

  • In 2004, the Rotterdam Study, which was the first study demonstrating the beneficial effect of vitamin K2, showed that people who consume 45 mcg of K2 daily live seven years longer than people getting 12 mcg per day[2].
  • In a subsequent study called the Prospect Study[3], 16,000 people were followed for 10 years. Researchers found that each additional 10 mcg of K2 in the diet results in 9 percent fewer cardiac events.

Preliminary findings also suggest that vitamin K can help protect you from brain disease. However, it is too early to say exactly what types of damage it prevents—and how—but it is an area of intense interest to vitamin K scientists right now.

Vitamin K2 is CRUCIAL in Preventing Osteoporosis

The evidence suggests that vitamin K2 is essential for your bone health, but it is a nutrient the vast majority of you do not get in adequate amounts from your diet.

How does vitamin K lead to bone health?

Osteocalcin is a protein produced by your osteoblasts (cells responsible for bone formation), and is utilized within the bone as an integral part of the bone-forming process. However, osteocalcin must be “carboxylated” before it can be effective. Vitamin K functions as a cofactor for the enzyme that catalyzes the carboxylation of osteocalcin.

Vitamin K2 has been found to be a far more effective “activator” of osteocalcin than K1.

There has been some remarkable research about the protective effects of vitamin K2 against osteoporosis:

  • A number of Japanese trials have shown that vitamin K2 completely reverses bone loss and in some cases even increases bone mass in people with osteoporosis[4].
  • The pooled evidence of seven Japanese trials show that vitamin K2 supplementation produces a 60 percent reduction in vertebral fractures and an 80 percent reduction in hip and other non-vertebral fractures[5].
  • Researchers in the Netherlands showed that vitamin K2 is three times more effective than vitamin K1 in raising osteocalcin, which controls the building of bone[6].

Although your body can convert K1 into K2, studies show that the amount of K2 produced by this process alone is insufficient. Even if you are consuming enough K1, your body uses most of it to make clotting factors, leaving little remaining for your bones.

In other words, your liver preferentially uses vitamin K1 to activate clotting factors, while most of your other tissues preferentially use K2.

Vitamin K2 has also been found to offer you other benefits—besides your bones!

Vitamin K2 Lowers Your Cancer Risk

As mentioned earlier, we are also learning that vitamin K2 has a major role in preventing cancer.

The recent European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study[7], published in the October 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found high intake of vitamin K2—not K1—leads to reduced cancer risk, as well as a thirty percent lower risk of dying from cancer[8].

A study funded by the National Cancer Institute found that vitamin K2 might help reduce the risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Mayo Clinic researchers discovered that people with the highest intake of vitamin K2 had a 45 percent lower risk for this type of cancer, compared to those with the lowest vitamin K2 intake[9].

Scientists attribute this to the important role that vitamin K2 plays in inhibiting inflammatory cytokines, which are related to this type of lymphoma, and vitamin K’s role the lifecycle of your cells.

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin K from Your Diet?

Eating lots of green vegetables will increase your vitamin K1 levels naturally, especially:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts

You can obtain all the K2 you’ll need (about 200 micrograms) by eating 15 grams of natto daily, which is half an ounce. However, natto is generally not pleasing to the Westerner’s palate, so the next best thing is a vitamin K2 supplement.

But remember, you must always take your vitamin K supplement with fat since it is fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed without it.

Although the exact dosing is yet to be determined, Dr. Vermeer recommends between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for adults. You must use caution on the higher doses if you take anticoagulants, but if you are generally healthy and not on these types of medications, I suggest 150 mcg daily.

Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about overdosing on K2—people have been given a thousand-fold “overdose” over the course of three years, showing no adverse reactions (i.e., no increased clotting tendencies).

The Synergistic Effects Between Vitamin K and Vitamin D

It’s important to realize that vitamin K does not work alone. It needs collaborators—and vitamin D is an important one.

These two agents work together to increase MGP, or Matrix GLA Protein, which is the protein that is responsible for protecting your blood vessels from calcification. In fact, MGP is so important that it can be used as a laboratory measure of your vascular and cardiac status.

The results of human clinical studies suggest that concurrent use of vitamin K2 and vitamin D may substantially reduce bone loss.

If you are concerned about your bones, you must balance this nutritional triad:

  1. Vitamin D
  2. Vitamin K
  3. Calcium

Increasing calcium is good for your bones but not so beneficial for your arteries, which can become calcified, but vitamin K protects your blood vessels from calcifying when in the presence of high calcium levels.

So you really must pay attention to the synergism of all three of these nutrients if you want to optimize your benefits.

I am convinced we are seeing just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to vitamin K and its many valuable functions in your health. It’s truly an exciting area in nutritional science today.

In the meantime it is my STRONG encouragement to make sure you find some regular source of vitamin K2. This will mean eating about four ounces of fermented cheese a day (preferably raw) or taking a high quality vitamin K2 supplement.

It is my strong belief that in ten years time there will be as much passion and appreciation for this stealth vitamin as we have for vitamin D today.

References


  • [1] Nimptsch K, Rohrmann S and Linseisen J. “Dietary intake of vitamin K and risk of prostate cancer in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg)” Am J Clinical Nutrition April 2008;87(4):985-992 http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/87/4/985
  • [2] Geleijnse JM, Vermeer C, Grobbee DE, Schurgers LJ, Knapen MHJ, van der Meer IM, Hofman A and Witteman JCM. “Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: The Rotterdam Study” November 2004; J Nutr 134:3100-3105 http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/full/134/11/3100
  • [3] Daniels, S. “Vitamin K2, but not K1, effective for heart health benefits: Study” NutraIngredients.com February 12, 2009 http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Vitamin-K2-but-not-K1-effective-for-heart-health-benefits-Study
  • [4] Vermeer C, Shearer M J, Zitterman A, Bolton-Smith C, Szulc P, Hodges S, Walter P, Rambeck W, Stocklin E, Weber P. “Beyond deficiency: Potential benefits of increased intakes of vitamin K for bone and vascular health” Eur J Nutr. December 2004;43(6):325-335
  • [5] Cockayne S, Adamson J, Lanham-New S, Shearer MJ, Gilbody S, Torgerson DJ. “Vitamin K and the prevention of fractures: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” Arch Intern Med. 2006; 166: 1256-1261
  • [6] Schurgers LJ, Teunissen KJF, Hamulyak K, Knapen MHJ, Hogne V, Vermeer C. “Vitamin K-containing dietary supplements: Comparison of synthetic vitamin K1 and natto-derived menaquinone-7” Blood. 2006
  • [7] Nimptsch K, Rohrmann S, Kaaks R, and Linseisen J. “Dietary vitamin K intake in relation to cancer incidence and mortality: Results from the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg)” Am J Clin Nutr (March 24, 2010) http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/ajcn.2009.28691v1
  • [8] Daniells S (March 30, 2010) “Vitamin D may reduce cancer risk: EPIC study” Nutraingredients.com http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Vitamin-K-may-reduce-cancer-risk-EPIC-study
  • [9] “Vitamin K may protect against developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma” (April 20, 2010) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/185923.php
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Long Term Use of Osteoporosis Drugs Results in more Hip Fractures

Drugs that millions of older Americans take to ward of the effects of osteoporosis have been shown to actually increase the prevalence of the problem they are trying to prevent.  Osteoporosis is a condition is which the bones become thin and brittle, occurring mostly as people age.  There are risk factors for it such as obesity, sedentary life style and smoking that can be controlled or avoided.

Most people end up on a class of drugs called bisphosphonates.  These are drugs that include the brand names Actonel, Boniva, Fosamax, Reclast.  It is estimated that 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and an additional 34 million have low bone mass called osteopenia.  The market for these drugs is huge and sales last year exceeded $3.5 billion.

New research is showing that after as little as 5 years of use it can actually cause a type of hip fracture that is not seen in women who do not take this class of drug.  This problem with hip fractures is that they can be lethal or at the very least, very disabling.

Approximately 15-20% of patients die within 1 year of fracture.  Many people point to this statistic and would say of course a large percentage of patients that fracture their hips die soon after – the largest portion of the population who sustain these injuries are elderly adults.  But consider the next finding.   Interestingly, morbidity and mortality in those older than 90 years sustaining a hip fracture were not found to be statistically higher than others in the same age group without such an injury.

Big Pharma only cares about the money brought in by this class of drugs

The fact that these drugs can have severe side effects such as increasing the rate of hip fracture is disturbing because I have many patients who are on this class of drug and not all of them are elderly.  Some of there are in the 55-65 range and have been told they ‘must’ start taking these drugs to improve their bone density.  They are also told they will need to be on them for the rest of their life.  This puts these patients in grave danger and I don’t believe the benefit outweighs the risk.  The pharmaceutical companies have responded to these new studies in a typical way.

Merck spokesman Ron Rogers says the company has updated the Fosamax label to include information about “adverse events.”

A “causal association” has not been established between longterm bisphosphonate use and these atypical fractures, he says. “In our clinical studies with Fosamax, there have been no increased fracture risk at any skeletal site.”

Thanks for the warning label, but it may be too late for thousands of Americans.  Of course their clinical trials found no issues, but they never do.  Would you want to find out that your billion dollar money maker is dangerous and should be pulled from the market?

Terry Hurley, spokesman for Genentech, says Boniva’s “safety and efficacy” have been demonstrated in extensive clinical trials.

Again, the clinical trials mean nothing if these results are true.  The problem with drug research is that you can’t possibly know the long term effects of a drug until it has been used for years and the American public is used as your guinea pig.  Simply because it has been shown to be safe in some clinical trials does not mean it is safe forever.

Instead of offering more drugs to people for bone ‘health’ why not try something that works to slow bone loss that is not toxic and has very little side effect?  A great solution that works well for all of my patients is a combination of 4 things:

  1. A calcium/magnesium supplement – at least 1,500mg of calcium to roughly 600-800mg of magnesium per day.
  2. A vitamin D supplement – at least 4,000-6,000 IUs per day.
  3. A vitamin K supplement – at least 2,000 – 4,000 mcg per day.
  4. Weight bearing exercise.

The combination of the above works wonders to slow bone loss and the side effects are non existent.  There are so many drugs out there that are dangerous and can actually cause the problem they are designed to prevent.  It doesn’t make sense that these drugs are used so prevalently when safer and more natural alternatives are available.

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Warning! Don’t Take Another Drug Until You Read How You’re Being Conned…

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become thinner, more porous and break more easily. Osteopenia is different from osteoporosis — it is a slight thinning of bones that occurs naturally as women get older and typically doesn’t result in disabling bone breaks.

Osteopenia is a condition that only recently started to be thought of as a problem that required treatment. Until the early 1990’s, only a handful of people had even heard of the word. But osteopenia has transformed from a rarely heard word into a problem that millions of women swallow pills to treat.

The term “osteopenia” was never originally meant to be considered as a disease — it was a research category used mostly because some thought it might be useful for public health researchers who like clear categories for their studies.

But in 1995, a man named Jeremy Allen was approached by the drug company Merck. The pharmaceutical giant had just released a new osteoporosis drug called Fosamax. Since osteoporosis is a serious problem that affects millions of women, the potential market for Fosamax was enormous. But the drug wasn’t selling well.

Allen persuaded Merck to establish a nonprofit called the Bone Measurement Institute. On its board were six of the most respected osteoporosis researchers in the country.

But the institute itself had a rather slim staff: Allen was the only employee.

In 1997 the institute and several other interested organizations successfully lobbied to pass the Bone Mass Measurement Act, a piece of legislation that changed Medicare reimbursement rules to cover bone scans. More and more women got bone density tests (at Merck’s urging), and the very existence of the word “osteopenia” on a medical report had a profound effect.

Millions of women were worried by the diagnosis. And when clinicians saw the word ‘osteopenia’ on a report, they assumed it was a disease. Merck did not disabuse them of the notion.

There are no long-term studies that look at what happens to women with osteopenia who start Fosamax in their 50’s and continue treatment long-term in the hopes of preventing old-age fractures. And none are planned.

via Warning! Don’t Take Another Drug Until You Read How You’re Being Conned….

Dr. Court’s Comments

This never fails to amaze me that pharmaceutical giants can actually get conditions that have literally almost not risk associated with them to be classified as disease.  According the the British Medical Journal, counterpart to our Journal of the American Medical Association,  the strongest risk factor for fractures in women is falling, not osteoporosis. What is very interesting is that vitamin D has been shown to reduce falls in elderly women, but you don’t hear about that on the nightly news.

Here is a quote from the very study that shows osteoporosis drug use is overstated and exxagerated.

What the drug makers do is argue that the effect of treating pre-osteoporosis (osteopenia) and osteoporosis is similar. This move to treat pre-osteoporosis raises serious questions about the benefit-risk relationship for low-risk individuals and about the costs of medicalizing and potentially medicating an enormous group of healthy people.

It is clear that these drugs are dangerous.  I am not suggesting that they do not benefit a small portion of the population who have moderate to severe osteoporosis.  The problem is that most people are not told about conservative ways to treat their thinning bones.  These include things like calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K supplementation.  They also include weight bearing exercise.  The drug companies would have you believe they benefit everyone. The pharmaceutical companies manipulate research, congress and the public to get their agendas passed and they do it so carefully that these things become “fact” when, in reality, there is little evidence that what they state is real.

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