Here I'm going to focus my discussion around the anti-coagulant drug warfarin (the main drug in the class of drugs called coumarins). Coumarins are "vitamin K antagonists" ...they "thin" the blood by inhibiting the activity of vitamin K (vitamin K is needed to activate certain clotting factors produced by the liver, inhibiting their activation causes "blood thinning").
However, by defiinition, vitamins are essential ...who's the genius that thought you can inhibit the activity of an essential nutrient and everything would be fine? Because sarcasm aside, nothing is fine with warfarin (unless you're tying to assassinate Joseph Stalin). But on a positive note, it does give me a great launch pad to discuss what happens during vitamin K deficiency (since warfarin essentially induces a state of vitamin K deficiency in anyone who takes it).
If you've read my last post on calcium building up in the arteries, you'll know I blame this on a lack of vitamin K. This is because the RDA for vitamin K was set too low to begin with (this follows the same story as vitamin D). The reason is that we initially thought vitamin K was only needed to activate clotting factors in the liver, but now we know it's needed in the bones and soft tissues (just like vitamin D was initially thought to only be needed to improve calcium absorption in the gut, but now we know many other tissues in the body need vitamin D). The RDA for K was set to be the minimum amount needed to prevent spontaneous hemorrhaging, so if you're just getting enough to satisfy the liver's requirements, the rest of your body will be deficient (i.e. bones and arteries).
Well, let's take a look at what happens in cases of vitamin K deficiency, and again, I'm using patients on warfarin as an example because the effects are exaggerated. This first image is a cross-section of the hip. See all the white dots in the image on the right? That's calcium building up in the veins and arteries. This is due to vitamin K deficiency (induced by warfarin, but could easily occur naturally over a longer period of time due to insufficient vitamin K intake).
You may have also noticed the density of the femur is significantly less on the right image (seems much more hollow). This is called the "calcium paradox"--where calcium ends up in the soft tissues and arteries instead of the bones--and it's related to a vitamin K deficiency.
No wonder why those researchers I talked about yesterday found calcium supplements cause heart attacks... to me it's almost obvious -- but in fairness, I research this stuff everyday. I wouldn't expect those researchers (who likely have very little, if any, real education in nutrition) to know this. Especially since they likely take a conventional/modern medical philosophy to their research (reductionistic). To them, they probably believe calcium (and maybe vitamin D) is the whole story for bone health.
So just keep this in mind when you start to hear mass media sensationalize the calcium study and when you hear the researchers, who lack any real nutritional knowledge, suggest you stop taking calcium supplements.
Just make sure you're getting enough vitamin K and you're good to go.
- Human Study Suggests Vitamin K2 (as MK-7) REVERSES Arterial Calcification
- Calcium Causes Heart Attacks Without Vitamin K2
- Study Proves Vitamin K2 Supplements Reverse Deficiencies
- Vitamin K May Improve Cognitive Health in the Elderly
- Do Calcium Supplements Cause Heart Attacks?
- Warfarin, Vitamin K, and Heart Attacks from Calcium
- Vitamin K Improves Bone Mineral Density
- Low-Dose K2 (as MK-7) Proven to be Effective
- Vitamin K Deficiency Linked to Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
- Calcium & Vitamin D Linked to Kidney Stones -- More Reason for Vitamin K?
- Arterial Calcification Linked to Dementia
- Administration of Oral Vitamin K2 to Newborns
- Calcium with Vitamin D Reduces Premature Death Rate
- Calcium & D3 for Polycystic Ovaries and Kidney Disease
- Calcium with Phosphorus Reduces Intestinal Permeability
- Calcium Supplements Help Reduce the Risk of Endometrial Cancer
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