by Dr. David Minkoff November 21, 2018 4 min read
Cardiovascular disease is the reigning champion Cause of Death in the western world. Even though the medical world has known for decades that hardening of the arteries is the single greatest predictor of heart failure and stroke, cardiovascular disease remains at the top.
Knowing the indicators have not given us the ability to stop heart disease.
Only recently have we begun to understand why arteries harden. And it is this why that leads to a new understanding, an integrated approach to restoring flexibility in the arteries. And it all points to one key vitamin to turn it around.
Most people have heard the fable of the willow and the oak tree. The short version goes like this:
A big storm comes and while the flexible, pliable willow tree gets blown around in the gale-force winds, the big, stiff oak tree snaps and falls to the ground.
It couldn’t handle the force.
Your arteries are naturally designed to bend and flex with the pulse of your blood. Like the proverbial willow tree in the storm, this ability to dynamically move with the physiological stress of blood pressure keeps you healthy.
When arteries become hard, they become brittle. And like the oak tree, they can snap and rupture.
The physiological cause of hardened arteries is calcium deposits . Doctors have known this for years. This is not new information.
What is useful is why the calcium gets there, because the calcium isn’t the cause, it’s the symptom. Underneath these calcium deposits are injuries: damaged arteries trying to heal.
What kind of damage?
Damage from toxins, from pathogens, and from inflammation. This creates a very specific biochemical environment on the wall of the artery.
One that attracts calcium.
When there is free calcium floating around in the blood, it binds to the damage site, calcifying the wound site, hardening arteries, and paving the way for heart attack and stroke. [2,3]
This implies a new path to heart health: managing inflammation and detoxification. But there’s one more thing going on here, one that, when addressed, can help reverse arterial hardening in just a few weeks.
Why is there free calcium in the blood?
Normally, when an artery is injured by toxins or inflammation in a healthy adult, the tissue will become inflamed, the immune system will quickly clean up the problem, and the wound will heal in a few days.
However, when calcium is circulating in the blood, it attaches to the wound site and stays there.
Under normal circumstances, 99% of calcium is stored in the bones, with very little in the blood. The calcium stays in the bones because of a vitamin that acts like glue: Vitamin K.
Vitamin K is actually a group of many different related vitamins, of which K2 is the most famous. This group of compounds acts together to help bind calcium into the bone matrix. When you become deficient in the vitamin K complex, the glue begins to fail and calcium leaches into the bloodstream. 
This means underneath the big umbrella of cardiovascular disease lies a hidden Vitamin K deficiency that turns systemic inflammation and toxicity into heat attacks and strokes.
Clinical trials in humans show that vitamin K complex can actually “unstick” this calcium from the arteries and help it get back to the bones.
A single vitamin functionally reverses the symptom of hardened arteries [5,6]
The vast majority of our body’s vitamin K is produced by our gut bacteria, adding cardiovascular disease to the long list of conditions helped by rebalancing your microbiome. Before spending large amounts of money on expensive probiotic pills, try incorporating more fermented foods into your diet:
The next major source of vitamin K is our diet. Dietary sources of vitamins are naturally complexed with other compounds that make them easier to absorb. Vitamin K is most abundant in leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. Any quality green-drink powder will also contain high levels of vitamin K.
The richest natural source, however, is the Japanese fermented bean paste Natto. (Tip: start slow with natto, while remarkably healthy, it can be something of an acquired taste).
After gut bacteria and dietary sources, supplements are the next step you want to take. There is a synergistic relationship between vitamin K and vitamin D. Vitamin D pulls calcium into the bones, and vitamin K keeps it there. Therefore, you will want to look for vitamins that combined these two together for maximum benefit.
Also, both vitamin K and vitamin D are fat soluble so you want to be sure to take them with fat to ensure maximum absorption and get the most from your money.
One of the most surprising findings of recent studies is that many widely prescribed pharmaceutical drugs actually suppress the actions of vitamin K. Most of these are popular blood pressure prescriptions like warfarim, phenprocoumon, and acenocoumarol. 
If you are taking any of these drugs, you will want to take extra precautions to supplement vitamin K and vitamin D.
Also, becasue of the gut’s role in vitmain K production, be aware of antibiotic use. If you are on antibiotics, you will need to repair your gut and may want to supplement vitamin K and vitmain D until your microbiome is rebalanced.
by Dr. David Minkoff
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