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Vitamin K and calcium have a very strong and important connection in maintaining the body’s health. Vitamin K regulates calcium in two important ways. With regard to healthy bones, vitamin K helps to bind calcium to bone matter and also prevents the deterioration of bone tissue. Working in conjunction with special proteins in the bloodstream, vitamin K promotes blood vessel elasticity. This inhibits calcium buildup that causes hardening of the arteries, which can lead to heart disease.
This vitamin is produced naturally in two forms, K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 comes from green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli, and K2 is produced by bacteria in the human intestines and in those of some animals. Considered more powerful than K1, vitamin K2 is the form of vitamin K that prevents calcium buildup in the arteries and the oxidation of free radicals in the bloodstream, which can lead to cancer.
The interaction between vitamin K and calcium is basically a chemical one. The vitamin acts as a kind of chemical power switch that turns on Gla-protiens through a process called carboxylation. These proteins perform health maintenance in many areas of the body, including that of regulating calcium levels. One of the Gla-proteins activated by vitamin K is osteocalcin, which pulls calcium along with it to sites where bone structure is formed.
Vitamin K2 aids to both create bones and prevent their destruction. It works with vitamin D to increase the levels of Gla-proteins within the body, including those in osteoblasts, which are the cells that build bones. At the same time, K2 restricts the formation of ostioclasts, the cells which break down bone matter.
The relationship of vitamin K and calcium is also important to a healthy heart. If the body does not get enough vitamin K, osteocalcin does not become activated and just drifts in the bloodstream. In this inactive state, the osteocalcin does not transport any calcium, which then settles like sediment in the arteries. The arteries become calcified, which means they lose their elasticity and begin to harden. Calcification in the area of the heart greatly increases the risk of heart disease.
Calcification can be minimized by another tie between vitamin K and calcium. Another of the Gla-proteins set in action by K2 is matrix Gla-protein (MGP). MGP is produced in the muscular area of the heart. Once it is turned on by sufficient levels of vitamin K2, it blocks the proteins that cause calcium buildup in the blood vessels of the heart.
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