As we age (and get better in life!), keeping our arteries clean and clear becomes more important in providing vital oxygen and nourishment to our tissues. This helps to keep our bodies in excellent shape and condition. Clogged up arteries will increase blood pressure, increase strain on the heart, possibly leading to enlargement, and decrease our precious resources of health to our tissues.
Plaque begins with inflammation. It is aggravated by high amounts of cholesterol, and LDL, which the body uses to build it. The final step in plague formation is calcification of the cholesterol laden glob, which now becomes plaque. This plaque is so strong that the sound of an instrument striking it, sounds much like that of a china teacup.
Some interesting research was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, by Dr. Shea on the use of vitamin K supplements to prevent calcification of arterial plaque. A group of older men and women were evaluated with CT scan to measure the amount of calcified plaque in their arteries. One group was given a multiple vitamin/mineral and the other the same multiple plus vitamin K, Phylloquinone at a dose of 500 micrograms/day.
The theory behind the experiment was that vitamin K is an essential partner for a substance called matrix Gla protein. This protein will inhibit calcification of plaque. Previously, research has found that diets high in vitamin K has reversed aortic calcification (one of the main big vessels in the body), and improved elasticity in warfarin-treated rats. Warfarin is used to prevent clotting in humans with arrhythmia, and strokes. Patients on warfarin should not take vitamin K without supervision to adjust their dose. The results of this particular study found after three years, the calcification was less in the group supplemented with vitamin K by about 6%.
Vitamin K is found in leafy green veggies in the form of K1. Vitamin K is also available in MK-4, which is available as a supplement, such as Peak K2 and MK-7. MK-4 is a more active form of vitamin K and MK-7 is even more active, found in natto or soy cheese. MK-4 has been also studied with positive results in the treatment of osteoporosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.
We may court a deficiency in vitamin K, as it is produced by our own healthy bacteria. Some of these may be low in some people from the use of antibiotics. So, eat your greens, consider a supplement of vitamin K and/or maybe a little soy cheese here and there and take your probiotics to keep the normal bacteria high. Your arteries may depend on it.