By SUSAN CALLAHAN, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Back in 2010, researchers in Canada studying recent immigrants noticed something startling --- almost all of them were dangerously deficient in Vitamin D. As a result, many of the migrants who had come from sunny regions of the world, to snowy, dark Canada, suffered from osteoporosis, arthritis, fragile bones and other debilitating health conditions.
"This is a really great example of how ...immigrating to Canada can be dangerous or bad for your health, said Dr. Kevin Pottie of the University of Ottawa.
The most efficient way to get enough Vitamin D is through exposure to the sun. The body makes Vitamin D after skin is exposed for a minimal amount fo time to direct sunlight. For fair-skinned people, exposure to direct sunlight in warmer months for 10 to 15 minutes creates about 25,000 IUs of Vitamin D, about 30 times the daily recommended minimum of 800 IUs for people over 50, and almost 40 days worth of the minimum of 600 IUs recommended by the US Vitamin D Council for people under 50.
This study and others highlighted the need for Vitamin D supplements for many people, and especially for darker-skinned people who live in Northern Hemisphere areas.
But Vitamin D Can Deposit Calcium and Cause Blocked Arteries
A little known effect of taking Vitamin D, if you take more than your body needs, is that the excess Vitamin D can get deposited in your arteries.
Vitamin D increases the body's uptake of calcium, many studies have proven, including a 2011 study from University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey- New Jersey Medical School.
A 2015 study by Dr. Katarzyna Maresz of Poland's The International Science and Health Foundation Vitamin D made the next crucial connection. The higher calcium levels accelerate deposits of calcium in soft tissues and blood vessel walls.
The increased calcium deposits in artery walls increased the risk of heart attack by up to 86%.
Fortunately, there is another Vitamin which can help remove the excess calcium --- Vitamin K
Vitamin K Removes Excess Calcium from Artery Walls
There actually are two forms of Vitamin K, K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 is used to help blood clot. In essence, it keeps you from bleeding to death after you nick your finger. Vitamin K1 is found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach.
Vitamin K2, on the other hand, is produced by bacteria found in eggs, dairy (gouda cheese is especially rich in K2), meat and fermented foods such as sauerkraut and natto.
Although both forms of Vitamin K are needed to inhibit calcification of your arteries, it is Vitamin K2 that plays the larger role in removing excess calcium.
Vitamin K2 removes calcium by triggering MGP (matrix GLA protein), which prevents calcium from adhering to artery walls.
A 2004 study of 4,807 men and women found that taking Vitamin K2, even without Vitamin K1, lowers deaths from cardiovascular issues related to arterial calcification by 50%.
The study, from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterman, the Netherlands, found that people over 55 who take only 32 mcg of Vitamin K2 daily experience a 50% drop in cardiac deaths. They also experience a 25% reduction in deaths from any cause.
You will be able to get the critical 32 mcg of Vitamin K from these foods:
1. Natto -- 2 ounces contain 100 mcg. This fermented food is a part of the traditional Japanese diet and may be a part of the reason that the Japanese live, on average, longer than any other people on Earth.
2. Sauerkraut -- A cup contains between 18.5 to 50 mcg, depending on the preparation. Never cook the sauerkraut as this lowers the levels of Vitamin K produced from the bacteria
3. Gouda cheese -- one ounce contains 20 mcg of Vitamin K
Bottom line ---Adding Vitamin D to your diet can help to stave off hip fractures, osteoporosis and even lower your risk for depression. However, Vitamin D, alone, actually increases your risk of heart disease. So, don't take Vitamin D supplements unless you are also, faithfully, adding rich sources of Vitamin K to your diet as well.