Heart and bone health may seem like two different issues, but they're intimately connected. Studies following nearly 32,000 people found that undetected heart disease multiplies the odds of bone loss and fractures sixfold, and low bone mass increases risk of stroke and heart attack. How so?
Both depend upon calcium getting to the right place: into bones and away from arteries, where deposits of the mineral can be deadly. Vitamin K2, often in short supply, is essential for calcium to hit its mark. "K2 is like an usher in a theater," says Dennis Goodman, MD, a board-certified cardiologist, director of integrative medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, and author of Vitamin K2: The Missing Nutrient for Heart and Bone Health; "It helps calcium bind to the bone mineral matrix, keeping it away from blood vessels." Vitamin K2 is not well known, and should not be confused with vitamin K1, which is plentiful in leafy greens and plays a role in blood clotting.
"Our body does not make enough K2 and we can't get enough in our diet," says Goodman. Natto, a popular fermented soy food in the Japanese diet, is the only rich food source, with about 1,100 mcg per 3.5-ounce serving. But with a Western diet, a minimum daily beneficial amount of 45 mcg would require eating 8 pounds of beef or drinking 1.32 gallons of milk.
What to do: Goodman recommends taking up to 180 mcg daily of a special form of K2, called MK-7, "menaquinone-7," or a patented form,"MenaQ7." In addition to maintaining healthy bones, he says, "You can be preventing or at least retarding calcification of blood vessels."
Vitamin K2 and flaxseed are just two nutrients that promote heart health