While it may not be surprising that more men than women die of cardiovascular complications, the fact that low bone mineral density is a rising problem in males may be news to many men, as well as their doctors.
The National Institutes of Health online reports, “In the past few years the problem of osteoporosis in men has been recognized as an important public health issue, particularly in light of estimates that the number of men above the age of 70 will continue to increase as life expectancy continues to rise.” 9
It’s hard to believe that both cardiovascular and bone health are related to Calcium; however, it isn’t a matter of calcium intake, but rather, it’s the lack of proper utilization of Calcium that’s at the actual root of the problem.* It is the improper deposition of calcium into the soft tissues of the body at the expense of the loss of calcium from the bone matrix that must be considered.
To illustrate this more clearly, here are some well-researched facts and statistics:
Because of the lack of nutrients in conventional American diets and agricultural practices, the average American diet typically does not provide all the vitamins a healthy person needs for optimum health. In addition, new research about the importance of vitamin K, vitamin deficiency, and the combination of A, D3, and K2 begs further examination of how certain vitamins work together to help the absorption and utilization of vital nutrients.*
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Let’s better understand what we mean by the Calcium Paradox. A paradox is a statement that appears to be a contradiction. In the case of Calcium, the paradox is the result of an April, 2011 publication that appeared in the British Medical Journal. According to the study, the researchers found that women who supplemented their diet with Calcium to help support bone health were at a higher risk of poor cardiovascular health.*
Two additional studies in the literature confirmed this finding. The authors of the study warned that taking Calcium supplements needed to be reexamined.
The question remains should women take Calcium supplements or not. Dr. Kate Rheaue- Bleve,ND in her book “Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox” states that this is the wrong question to ask. She says we should ask instead, “How can the body guide Calcium safely into the bones where it helps and yet keep it away from soft tissues like the arteries where it can do harm. According to Dr Rheaue-Bleve, the answer lies with the incorporation of the Vitamin K2 along with Vitamins D3 and A in the diet.*
The formula in A • D • K from DaVinci® Laboratories is based on scientific research examining the synergistic effects of vitamins A, D3, and K2 as documented by Dr. Rheaume-Bleue . Dr. Rheaume-Bleue argues that the combination of vitamins A, D and K are, “intricately interrelated in complex ways that modern science doesn’t yet entirely understand.” 12
Dr. Rheaume-Bleue points out that the, “bone-building benefits of vitamin D,” depend on vitamin K2. When vitamin D is, “assisted by vitamin A,” this relationship, “stimulates the production of osteocalcin,” which is then activated by vitamin K2. She contends that these fat-soluble vitamins are, “profoundly different,” than other nutrients because they bind to proteins, especially K2, which allows the proteins to bind to calcium so that it can be better utilized in the body.* 12
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin with multiple functions in the body, including normal development, growth and maintenance of the skeleton throughout life.* Vitamin A supports the number and activity of osteoclast cells, which break down bone tissue, an ongoing process of skeletal maintenance called bone remodeling.* 12
Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for maintaining normal calcium metabolism.* It supports calcium absorption in the gut and helps maintain adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone.* Vitamin D3 also supports cardiovascular function and blood pressure within normal ranges.* 12
Vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone (MK- 7), is the form that has been shown to support normal bone formation.* It is responsible for the carboxylation of specific bone proteins that play a regulatory role in bone metabolism.* Factors that cause vitamin K inadequacy include: poor diet and the use of certain prescription drugs, as well as long term use of antibiotics.* 12
Vitamin K1 vs. K2 In Chapter 3 of Dr. Rheaume-Bleue’s book, she takes an in depth look at how much vitamin K2 is needed and where to get it. She also makes the distinction between vitamin K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 is the form of vitamin K that is needed to activate blood clotting while Vitamin K2 serves a different function.*Vitamin K1 (found in nutrient rich greens) is the precursor to K2, which is the form of vitamin K that supports calcium utilization. While humans cannot convert vitamin K1 into K2, animals can, which is why meat and dairy products are important sources of K2.12
According to the National Institutes of Health, only a third of the United States population meets the Adequate Intake of vitamin K.8 This may be due to the over consumption of meat from factory farms. Most modern factory farms use corn because it is cheap and fattens the animal more quickly. However, this means that grain-fed animals are not as healthy, and the meat is higher in saturated fats. It also means that the animal product doesn’t provide a good source of K2. According to Dr. RheaumeBleue’s research in her book, standard grain, “contains only a fraction of the necessary K2 precursor found in green grass.” 12
She concludes that before the rise of commercial feedlots, vitamin K2 was abundant in our diets because most animals were grass fed in pastures. If factory farming and grain-fed animal products are the norm, how do we ensure that we are getting enough K2? Supplements are only part of the answer. Knowing where our food comes from is another large piece of the puzzle.
As a strange twist of fate, the discovery of vitamins A and D sparked the enormous shift in how livestock animals are raised in the U.S., starting as early as the 1920s. Dr. Rheaume-Bleue explains, “Adding these specific nutrients to feed meant that cattle, poultry and swine could survive without sunlight, a source of vitamin D, and without green grass, a source of nutrients from which animals can derive vitamin A.” 12
Buying quality animal products is one way to get a number of essential vitamins and minerals, not just K2. Without perhaps understanding the full extent of the health benefits of eating meat from grass-fed animals, “Localvore” movements across the country are leading the way to better health by promoting locally-grown, free range, and grass-fed beef, chicken, and pork. But some of these labels can be confusing.
It may seem like a luxury to some, but part of getting the right amount of minerals and vitamins includes making healthier food choices. This means we need to increase our awareness of where our meat comes from and how the animals are raised. A little education goes a long way.
For instance, many consumers don’t realize that “free range” is not the same as “grass-fed.” Buying cage-free eggs doesn’t mean that the hen has been fed the nutrient-rich grass needed to produce eggs with a higher nutrient content, which includes higher levels of vitamin A, E, D, K2, and Omega-3 fatty acids. It only means that the hen was not raised in a cage but may still have been fed mostly grain.
Why should any of this matter outside of environmental or ethical concerns? Dr. Rheaume-Bleue compares the official nutrient data for commercial eggs with the eggs from grass-fed hens. The results are staggering.
Hens raised on pasture have:
However, with all the confusing labels surrounding the free range and organic movements, it’s hard to tell just how much vitamin K2 we are getting in our diets. In addition, the movement toward free range and grass fed is a slow one, and most consumers cannot afford these more expensive items. Additionally, vegans are another subset of the population who can only get K2 through a supplement. Even if the majority of people who consume animal products are buying more nutrient rich meat and dairy, is it enough?
Healthier Lifestyles Support Stronger Bones
While getting the extra support for certain health needs can be found in supplements, it’s important to speak with patients about how a balanced diet and exercise are also a vital part of their overall health. This is why it is essential for health practitioners to recommend a comprehensive course of action for total wellness.
The Center for Disease Control notes that, “Recommendations from health care providers are the most influential factor in convincing people to be physically active,” as well as joining programs focused on self-management.2 This is why at DaVinci® Laboratories, we always encourage doctors to discuss the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise, along with the benefits of additional support from supplements.
What makes A.D.K so beneficial is how its ingredients work together to help you achieve optimal bone and heart health*. Research indicates that the unique combination of vitamins A, D3 and K2 promotes proper bone growth and heart health because of their impact on calcium utilization in the body.*
There is a growing movement toward alternative approaches for everyday health.
The 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that in 2007, around 4 in every 10 adults (38.3%) had used some type of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The NHIS also confirms that 38.1 million adults in the United States made visits to CAM practitioners during the last year, spending $33.9 billion out of pocket on visits and purchases of CAM products, classes, and materials.14 Calcium is among one of those out of pocket purchases, and more and more doctors are recommending calcium supplements for patients as they age. However, as Dr. Rheaume-Bleue argues, doctors are doing patients a disservice if that calcium is not being absorbed properly.
Calcium supplements are perhaps the most confusing since there are conflicting opinions about how much calcium is needed on a daily basis to support bone integrity. But what cannot be argued is how calcium is absorbed. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states, “Not all the calcium consumed — whether through food or supplement — is actually absorbed in the intestines.” 1
AAOS also points to research suggesting that when calcium is taken in doses less than 500 mg, it is absorbed most efficiently. Therefore, splitting a high dose into multiple doses throughout the day would allow for greater absorption of calcium. 1 In addition to dosage, absorption is determined by the presence of other vitamins. Some research shows that when vitamins A, D, and K are combined, calcium is utilized more efficiently in the body. The AAOS encourages patients to speak with a doctor or specialist before taking a calcium supplement. While the combination of ADK has not been recommended for supporting bone and cardiovascular health, doctors who are recommending calcium supplements may want to consider the new research on calcium absorption and ADK supplements.*
Research shows that the combination of vitamins A, D, and K2 may support bone integrity and rebuilding.* Vitamin K2 is required for the activation of osteocalcin—a vitamin K dependent protein that transports calcium from the blood to form a healthy bone matrix.*
Vitamin K2 has been tested in several clinical trials to examine its effect on bone mineral density.* In one study, titled, ‘Vitamin K and the prevention of fractures: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials,’ researchers found that adult participants taking oral vitamin K for at least 6 months saw a reduction in bone loss. 3 However, a similar study was conducted using vitamin K1, finding no increase in bone mineral density. 11 This implies that vitamin K2 may have a more positive effect on bone mineral density than vitamin K1.* Which is essential because it activates the blood clotting factors.*
As mentioned previously in this paper, vitamin K2 can only be found in animal meat or vitamin supplements. But it’s important to note that when vitamin K2 is lacking or not utilized properly in the body, bone structure and function can be compromised. Vitamin K2 not only supports the deposition of calcium into bone; it also has a regulatory effect on vitamins A and D with regard to osteoclast and osteoblast activity.* 12
This is partly why vitamins A and D are now being used with vitamin K in bone health supplements. Furthermore, some studies indicate that consuming high levels of vitamin A per day may cause reduced bone mineral density. 6 Therefore, experts recommend taking vitamins A and D3 in conjunction with vitamin K2 for its regulatory properties.*
Vitamin D3 is also needed for proper bone growth and bone remodeling by osteoblasts and osteoclasts.* Without sufficient Vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Research shows that K2 partners with Vitamin D3 to inhibit the production of osteoclast cells (cells that break down bone) in order to help bone-building osteoblasts catch up to maintain a healthy balance.* 12
Bone remodeling is a natural way the body removes old or weakened bone tissue in order to make room for new, stronger tissue. This process is critical to fracture repair and retaining bone density. Vitamin A also plays a role in stimulating osteoblasts (bone building cells) to secrete proteins that are required for bone mineralization, including the K2 dependent protein called osteocalcin.* Combined, vitamins A and D support osteocalcin output and the regulation of osteoclasts (bone breakdown cells) and osteoblasts (bone building cells).* 12
In terms of heart health, vitamin K2 plays an important role, especially in reducing the risk of unabsorbed calcium collecting in coronary arteries.* While both vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 have been found to be absorbed well in the body, one study indicated that MK-7 (vitamin K2) has a longer half-life and is therefore utilized for a longer duration.13 Furthermore, another study found that postmenopausal women receiving a steady dose of MK-7 over 3 years saw improved bone strength and reduced risk of vertebral height loss in the lower thoracic region.* 5
Vitamin K2 works primarily outside of the liver in bones and blood vessels. In blood vessels, vitamin K2 helps to maintain arterial elasticity.* Vitamin D3 also supports cardiovascular function and blood pressure within normal ranges.* It impacts heart health by supporting the body’s natural cytokine production and vascular function.* 12
In her book, Dr. Rheaume-Bleue explains this synergistic relationship in one, simple statement: “Vitamins A and D collaborate to prop up vitamin K2, and we fully benefit from vitamins A and D only when we have K2 to complete the act and achieve optimal health.*” She also points out another distinguishing trait shared by both vitamin A and vitamin D. Like vitamin K2, they can only be obtained from animal products, despite what health experts have been telling consumers for years. * 12
A further review may be useful in understanding how Vitamins A, D3 and K2 work as a team to support proper uptake and utilization of Calcium and eliminate the concern over the Calcium Paradox.* They work together to support the building of bone tissue while at the same time prevent the unwanted buildup of Calcium plaque in the arteries.* This is where the critical role of Vitamin K2 comes in but without the presence of Vitamins A and D3, K2 could not do it’s job. Vitamins A and D3 are required for the production of the Vitamin K2 dependent proteins osteocalcin and MGP (matrix gla protein).* Osteocalcin must first be carboxylated (a reaction that adds a carboxyl group) before osteocalcin can stimulate bone building activity by the osteoblasts cell. This reaction requires the presence of Vitamin K2. In the same way K2 is required to carboxylate MGP, which is inhibits calcification of the soft tissues and helps move Calcium out of the soft tissues.* So we can see that A and D3 are needed to produce the necessary proteins but when K2 is in short supply these proteins cannot be activated which will result in arterial plaque formation.* So when Vitamins A, D3 and K2 are all present, they work synergistically to promote Calcium being deposited in the bone matrix while at the same time supports the removal of Calcium from the soft tissues.*
There are other important aspects of these vitamins working together for better health. When Vitamin K3 is in short supply and Vitamin A is present in adequate levels, Vitamin A effectively reduces the amount of Vitamin K2 needed to accomplish it job.* Also when Vitamin K2 works to promote the removal of Calcium from the soft tissues, Vitamin A assists in it’s removal in the urine.* Vitamin D3 is essential in absorbing Calcium, K2 is essential for guiding Calcium for proper utilization and Vitamin A aids in removal of unwanted Calcium from the body.* According to Dr. Rheaume-Bleue in her book reports that when these three fat soluble vitamins are present in healthy levels they balance one another in eliminating any toxicity effects of any one of the Vitamins.* 12
In conclusion, the key to supporting bone and heart health and avoiding the risk of Calcium buildup in the arteries is to balance the presence of Vitamin A, D3 and K2.* This creates an environment where the three vitamins work together to create and activate the proteins that effectively guide Calcium into the body, around the body where it is needed and also out of the body.* Each vitamin could not function properly without the presence of the other two. This explains the remarkable synergy and balancing act these three fat soluble vitamins.
WHAT MAKES A.D.K FROM DAVINCI® UNIQUE?
What makes our product unique is that each capsule of A.D.K contains 1,500 mcg of vitamin A (as Retinyl Palmitate), 250 mcg (5,000 IU) of Vitamin D3 (as Cholecalciferol), and 500 mcg of Vitamin K2 (as MK-7). This product was formulated with these recommended levels to provide proper support.*