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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee Magazine

Pros and Cons of Calcium Supplements

Oct 30, 2015 12:07PM ● By Sarah Axtell

According to a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2011, women that supplement with calcium to prevent osteoporosis are at a higher risk of atherosclerosis (formation of calcium plaques in the arteries), heart attack and stroke than those that don’t. Based on this research, for every bone fracture calcium supplementation prevents, it can lead to two potentially fatal heart disease events.

We still need to protect our bones with calcium, but taking it alone can contribute to deadly calcification of the arteries, causing heart disease. Two of the costliest and most significant health problems in the modern world are osteoporosis and atherosclerosis. The commonality of these two diseases is the process of calcium leaving the bone and being deposited in the arteries. We can guide calcium safely into the bones and keep it away from our arteries with vitamin K2.

Vitamin K2 propels calcium into bones and simultaneously inhibits, in some cases even removes, calcium deposition in the arteries. Vitamin D has gotten a lot of attention for its bone-building properties because it can help keep calcium in the bone, but we don’t want calcium to build up in the arteries. This is where the important, but often overlooked, vitamin K2 comes in.

Vitamin K1 encourages blood clotting. It is found mainly in green, leafy vegetables. Vitamin K2 is a different form of the vitamin and is responsible for appropriate calcification (promoting bone strength and decreasing plaque accumulation in the arteries). Many of us get plenty of vitamin K1, as the body keeps the K1 levels pretty tightly regulated, but K2 has gone missing from our diets.

Vitamin K2 is found in grass-fed animal fats such as egg yolks, certain cheeses and butter. It is also found in a traditional Japanese food made from soy, called Natto. Vitamin K’s most abundant natural source is chlorophyll, which is the green pigment found in grass. Modern ranchers, however, are feeding their cows corn, rather than grass. Eating grain-fed dairy, eggs and meat has resulted in a widespread deficiency of this important nutrient.

To promote bone health and a reduced risk of heart disease, it is important to supplement not only with calcium, but with vitamin K2 (to guide calcium into the bones and inhibit calcium deposition in the arteries) and vitamin D3 (to keep calcium in the bone). Proper nutrition is a team effort. Talk with a naturopathic doctor regarding appropriate forms and dosages of the nutrients.

Sarah Axtell, a naturopathic doctor at Lakeside Natural Medicine, in Shorewood, provides holistic health care for the entire family utilizing clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, detoxification and biotherapeutic drainage. For more information, call 414-939-8748 or visit