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Calcium, Vitamin K and Bone Health

Bone, Muscle, Joint Health Bone, Muscle, Joint Health

According to Eric Anderson, senior vice president of global sales and marketing, with New Jersey-based NattoPharma USA Inc., there are two major challenges to overcome in the bone, muscle and joint health category. “The first is the ongoing media coverage of studies showing that excessive calcium supplementation can negatively impact cardiovascular health. These studies are still making headlines today online and via social media, causing consumers to abandon their calcium supplements out of fear they are damaging their hearts, when in fact, they are neglecting their health, in particular their bone health. The truth is they can—and should—continue to take calcium supplements, provided they are taking adequate vitamin K2,” he said.

“Calcium,” Anderson continued, “serves many important roles in the human body, including providing structure and hardness to bones and teeth; allowing muscles to contract and nerves to send signals; making blood vessels expand and contract; helping blood to clot; and supporting protein function and hormone regulation. Calcium is essential to the body, but Vitamin K2 is required by the body to help it properly utilize calcium. Vitamin K2 activates Matrix Gla Protein (MGP), a K-dependent protein that is the most potent modulator of vascular calcification. Without adequate vitamin K2, excess calcium is often deposited in the arteries and blood vessels, causing stiffening, which can lead to cardiovascular problems.

In other words, vitamin K2 makes calcium work, and no other K2 on the market has been proven more effective than MenaQ7.”

Researchers at the R&D Group VitaK of Maastricht University in the Netherlands monitored 244 healthy post-menopausal women for three years using pulse wave velocity and ultrasound techniques. The participants, aged 55-65 years, were randomly assigned to take a nutritional dose (180 mcg) of vitamin K2 as MK-7 (as MenaQ7) daily for three years, or placebo capsules.

After three years of treatment, the Stiffness Index ß in the MK-7 group had decreased significantly after compared to the slight increase in the placebo group. Results confirmed that vitamin K2 as MK-7 not only inhibited age-related stiffening of the artery walls, but also made a statistically significant improvement of vascular elasticity.

This study, published in Thrombosis and Haemostasis (May 2015), is a breakthrough because it is the first intervention trial whose results confirm the association made by previous population-based studies: that vitamin K2 intake is linked to cardiovascular risk. According to the researchers, the data demonstrated that a nutritional dose of vitamin K2 in fact promotes cardiovascular health.

“Another major hurdle to consider is the continuing challenge of apprising parents that their children must consume adequate K2; this also goes for the health care practitioners, e.g., pediatricians, to recommend K2 as they recommend EFAs,” Anderson added.

“Without adequate vitamin K intake, calcium cannot be properly processed in the body to build healthy, strong bones,” he said. “As up to 90 percent of peak bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and by age 20 in boys, childhood is the best time to build the foundation for long-lasting bone health, which means supplementing with vitamin K2. Osteocalcin levels in young bones are eight to 10 times higher compared to adult bones, hence the requirement of K vitamins, particularly vitamin K2, is also higher. Population-based studies and clinical trials have tightly linked better K vitamin status in children (meaning higher levels of vitamin K2 found in blood serum) to the creation of strong, healthy bones.”

In a study published in 2008, van Summeren et al showed that improving vitamin K status in children over a two-year period resulted in stronger, denser bones. The same group one year later demonstrated that in healthy pre-pubertal children, modest supplementation with MenaQ7 Vitamin K2 as MK-7 circulating concentrations of MK-7 and increases osteocalcin activation.


Knapen MH, Drummen NE, Smit E, et al. Three-year low-dose me¬naquinone-7 supplementation helps decrease bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis Int. 2013 Sep;24(9):2499-507.

Edwards SL. Maintaining calcium balance: physiology and implications. Nurs Times. 2005;101:58-61.
Knapen MHJ, Braam LAJL, Drummen NE, Bekers O, Hoeks APG, Vermeer C. Menaquinone-7 supplementation improves arterial stiffness in healthy postmenopausal women: double-blind randomized clinical trial. Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 2015; 19;113(5).

van Summeren MJH, Braam LAJL, Lilien MR, Schurgers LJ, Kuis W, Vermeer C. The effect of menaquinone-7 (vitamin K2) supplementation on osteocalcin carboxylation in healthy prepubertal children. Br J Nutr. 2009; 102(8):1171-8.