Calcium Supplementation and Heart Attack Risk? Vitamin K2 May Be A Solution

17 January 2008 Morristown, NJ. PL Thomas today commented on recent research linking calcium supplementation to increased risk of heart attack, reported in the British Medical Journal’s January 16th issue.

“We at PL Thomas found this study quite disturbing, but not surprising,” said Scott Rosenbush, Business Manager. “Calcium supplementation is clearly important for a large percentage of the population, however the goal should be to provide supplements that help put calcium in the bones where it is needed, and keep it out of the soft tissues and arteries, where it can be harmful. Recent research has shown that vitamin K2 plays a vital role in calcium utilization, and we believe it should be included in all calcium supplements.”

Professors Cees Vermeer and Leon Schurgers, of VitaK, at Maastricht University, the Netherlands, a leading research institute specializing in the role of vitamin K in the field of bone health and cardiovascular health, provided the following statement:

“There are two vitamins known to be involved in calcium metabolism: vitamin D and vitamin K. Increased calcium intake, especially if combined with vitamin D, results in increased absorption of calcium.

However, Vitamin K is required for activation of the vascular protein MGP, which is an inhibitor of calcification. In fact it is the strongest inhibitor of tissue calcification presently known and it is the only calcification inhibitor found in the vasculature. Using highly specific assays, the VitaK research group at the Maastricht University has demonstrated that the vitamin K intake by non-supplemented adults (almost without exception) is insufficient to completely activate MGP (at best 70% is activated). This means that healthy adults are not optimally protected against vascular calcification, even in the absence of an extra calcium load. Subjects of 50 years and older even have a still lower vitamin K status, and hence a higher fraction of their MGP is synthesized in an inactive form.

When knowing these facts, it is only to be expected that an increased calcium intake will lead to increased artery calcification. This is what may happen if incomplete supplements are provided. It has been demonstrated in large population-based studies, in experimental animal studies and in cell culture studies that the efficacy of vitamin K2 in vascular calcification protection is far better than that of vitamin K1.

However, at high intakes even K1 was shown to maintain vascular elasticity in a three-year study. Although a large clinical intervention trial on the cardio-protective effect of K2 at high calcium intakes has not yet been published, all data presently available suggest that supplements containing calcium and vitamin D without K2 are incomplete, and may have unexpected adverse side effect in the cardiovascular area.”

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition called the “Rotterdam Study” in 2004, followed over 4,800 people for a ten year period. The study found increased intake of specifically vitamin K2 from dietary sources significantly reduced the risk of CHD mortality by 50% as compared to low dietary vitamin K2 intake. In this study, vitamin K1 had no effect at all.

These results were confirmed in a published study in which rats were fed a diet which depleted their vitamin K stores, resulting in inactive vitamin-K dependent proteins, including MGP, leading to major arterial calcification. The addition of vitamin K2 to the rats’ diet completely inhibited the induced calcification. A follow-up study published April 2006 in the journal Blood demonstrated that supplemental vitamin K2 actually regressed preformed calcifications in an animal model.

Rosenbush continued, “Additional research is certainly necessary. However, we strongly recommend vitamin K2 supplementation to address a deficiency in the Western diet, thus helping protect bone and heart health. Natural Vitamin K2 as menaquinone-7 is the obvious choice for supplements and food enrichment as it is the most bioactive and longest lasting form of vitamin K. And menaquinone-7 is safe and effective within current RDI’s for Vitamin K, whereas K1 and synthetic K2 would require pharmacological doses to be effective.

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For more information, contact Eric Anderson at 973-984-0900, x215 or email [email protected]

PLT offers a natural vitamin K2 under the trade name MenaQ7 in alliance with NattoPharma, Norway.

About MenaQ7

MenaQ7 provides Natural Vitamin K2 as an extract of natto, a fermented soy food from Japan. Natto is particularly rich in the highly bio-available form of vitamin K2 called menaquinone-7 (MK-7). MenaQ7 provides the only commercially available Natural Vitamin K2 with guaranteed actives and stability, clinical substantiation and international patents awarded and pending.

For more information on the health benefits of MenaQ7, please visit

About PL Thomas

PL Thomas, a New Jersey-based ingredient supplier, offers fifty years of innovation in securing reliable, high quality raw materials for the food/functional food and nutrition industries. PLT is a one-stop resource for application solutions, current industry information and technical service, and specializes in water-soluble gums and clinically-supported botanical extracts.

About NattoPharma

NattoPharma Norway is the exclusive international supplier of MenaQ7 natural Vitamin K2. NattoPharma has entered into a multi-year research and development program to substantiate and discover the health benefits of natural vitamin K2 for applications in the exciting marketplace for functional food and health food supplements.

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