My husband’s family history of heart disease used to scare me. Honestly, with my background as a nurse, I felt that aside from some basic dietary precautions there was very little we could do to ensure he did not journey down the same path that his grandparents were walking. I frankly worried that I would eventually be the one in the recliner by the hospital bed, hoping to hear that he didn’t need bypass surgery.
In the past few decades, fat-soluble vitamins have increasingly taken their place and been recognized as major actors in heart health. Traditional lifestyles and diets were examined and concluded to be rich in fat-soluble vitamins from nutrient-dense whole foods, whereas conventional modern diets tend to be poor in fat-soluble vitamins and heavy in processed foods. Incidentally, cultures that have abandoned their traditional diets are documented to have a much higher rate of heart disease than their ancestors.
When Beeyoutiful began a few years ago to offer products like Cod Liver Oil, Butter Oil, and Katalyst, I thought it was a great thing to make Vitamin K available, since it does so much with the blood and its ability to clot. But there’s so much more to that vitamin that I had yet to discover!
Vitamin K: Just For Clotting?
I really did not understand Vitamin K at all, specifically K2 (the form present in Katalyst and Butter Oil). The modern American diet is very low in K2 because we typically consume very little in the way of grassfed dairy (made from milk from cows that graze on pasture rather than eating grain) or eggs from truly free-range chickens, two primary sources of K2.
What I have learned about Vitamin K2 recently has caused me to prioritize these traditional foods in my family’s diet, and to decide to never leave off supplementing fat-soluble vitamins when I cannot get them from food sources.
There is a gentle dance in our bodies that involves many nutrients. Most need another nutrient to help them do their jobs properly. The complexity of these interactions is fascinating, and it explains how easily we can get out of balance when an important companion nutrient is deficient.
When Calcium Acts Alone
We are all well aware of the vital role that calcium plays in our bodies. It’s known for nourishing our bones and teeth, supporting heart health, helping nerves communicate, causing muscles to contract, and even supporting healthy blood clotting factors. In order for calcium to move around the body, it depends on other nutrients, and without them it simply takes the path of least resistance.
The ugly fact about calcium without its companion nutrients is that the path of least resistance leads straight to the soft tissues such as arteries and muscles. Those aren’t exactly the places where we’d like for our minerals to lodge, and these calcium deposits can cause plaque buildup in the blood vessels and pain in the joints and muscles.
The Vital Companions: Vitamins D and K
One of calcium’s companions is Vitamin D3, helping to increase absorption of calcium through the intestines, directly helping bone health. But unfortunately Vitamin D can only get calcium as far as the blood stream; it cannot get it into the bones. Actually, if you stopped the process here, it’s possible that taking Vitamin D alone could lead to even more calcium buildup in the blood vessels.
While D cannot move the calcium into the bones and out of the blood vessels, its other companion can! Vitamin K2 is a little-known supplement that functions as a cofactor that’s necessary to activate the two proteins that are responsible for moving calcium around the body. Without these two proteins (known as Osteocalcin and MGP), calcium simply remains in the blood vessels, creating buildup and contributing to a lack of calcium in the bones.
By simply adding K2 to your diet, you are benefitting both your heart and circulatory system, and your skeletal system. All three of these nutrients– calcium, D3 and K2– play vital roles in blood clotting as well, so you’re not only helping to ensure that blood vessels stay open and free, you are also helping to ensure the balance of clotting stays correct.
A Little Note About Vitamin A
While Vitamin A does not play a direct role in this cascade, what we do know is that A, D and K work synergistically together to regulate each other and protect the body. We highly suggest when supplementing with fat-soluble vitamins that you take Cod Liver Oil along with a Butter Oil to get a balance of all three.
Getting Adequate A, D, & K
The most superior way to take in fat-soluble vitamins is through grassfed butters, whole grassfed and raw dairy, cod liver oil, and fish. When these are not optimal in the diet, we highly recommend Cod Liver Oil and Butter Oil as a secondary option, or the pairing of Dynamic Duo and Katalyst as a budget-friendly backup plan.
It amazes me that the body is built to work with such intricate balance that when fed the correct nutrients it actually has the power to strengthen itself against future disease. Don’t shy away from the butter and enjoy those delicious farm-fresh eggs! Have another helping and call it a tasty contribution to your heart health.
For more reading on this topic, I highly recommend the following resources:
The Skinny on Fats
On the Trail of the Elusive X-Factor: A Sixty-Two-Year-Old Mystery Finally Solved
Diet & Heart Disease: It’s NOT What You Might Think by Stephen Byrnes, PhD, RNCP
Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life by Kate Rheaume-Bleu