When you think of calcium, bone health likely comes to mind because the essential mineral is vital to strong bones and teeth. While the benefits of the mineral are undeniable, high calcium in the blood can lead to health problems. Read on to learn more about the risks of calcium deposits and how vitamin K2 and D3 may help mitigate them.
What Is Calcification?
Calcification is what happens when calcium mineral salts form deposits. The process is vital to developing and maintaining bones and teeth, but it can also occur in other body areas. Doctors call it atherosclerotic or vascular calcification when it happens in the blood vessels. A buildup of calcium in the heart is usually referred to as aortic calcification or coronary artery calcification. No matter which term is used, this type of calcification refers to calcium deposits forming in areas where they should not.
What Causes Calcification of Arteries?
Scientists are still trying to determine exactly what causes calcification of the arteries. Some potential causes may be:
- Low levels of specific vitamins
- Excess body fat
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood glucose levels
- High blood pressure levels
- Chronic inflammation
- Sleep apnea
- Heavy intake of alcohol
People who have calcification of the arteries may show normal blood calcium levels because the problem doesn't come from having too much calcium. Instead, calcification normally develops when the body doesn't correctly distribute calcium. As a result, it's possible to suffer from calcification and still need calcium bone health supplements as you age.
What Are the Symptoms of Atherosclerotic Calcification?
Often, calcification causes no symptoms at all in the early stages, but over time, the buildup of calcium deposits causes arteries to harden. This can eventually affect blood flow. When this occurs in the heart, you may experience shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, or a heavy feeling in your chest. Calcification that restricts blood flow to the brain may cause symptoms of a stroke like dizziness, memory loss, slurred speech, and an intense headache. Blockages in the legs, arms, or hips can cause muscle spasms, numbness, and weakness.
What Are the Risks of Vascular Calcification?
Vascular calcification carries several risks, including:
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Poor circulation
Bone Health Supplements for Cardiovascular Health
Doctors frequently recommend that people take vitamin D for bones and calcium. This is because vitamin D deficiency has been shown to increase the risk of bone loss. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb and use calcium properly. There are some research to suggest that the nutrient may also help to ensure that the calcium from the food you eat makes its way to the bones instead of other areas of the body. Specifically, doctors may suggest vitamin D3 for people with atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular health challenges.
Vitamin K2 Benefits for Arterial Calcification
Vitamin K2 is another nutrient that may benefit those with stiff arteries, as some studies suggest that vitamin K2 helps reduce calcification and support healthy, supple blood vessels. The vitamin helps to modulate the process that converts calcium into bone. In addition, it can activate a protein that helps inhibit the development of calcium deposits in vascular tissue. As a result, taking vitamin K2 may help to promote a proper distribution of calcium throughout the body. Talk to your doctor about whether the vitamin may be beneficial for you. Your medical provider can also recommend the correct vitamin K2 dose for arterial calcification.
Other Things You Can Do to Address Calcification
While research into reversing coronary artery calcification with vitamin K2 has yielded promising results, more studies are needed to verify the early findings. Because of this, experts generally recommend that vitamin D3 and K2 be used alongside other interventions for addressing hardening of the arteries due to calcification. Here are some other things you can do to promote heart health:
- Quit smoking. Kicking the habit will not only benefit your lungs, but it may also cut down on the hardening of the arteries.
- Exercise regularly. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly to support heart health.
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight. Losing weight by restricting calories and exercising may decrease the risk of complications due to the hardening of the arteries.
- Eat more healthy foods. A diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains helps support heart health.
- Cut down on fats and sugars. Saturated fats and added sugars have been shown to have detrimental effects on the heart. Eating more natural whole foods and cooking with monounsaturated fats like olive oil can help promote a healthier cardiovascular system.
- Practice stress management techniques. Stress can strain the heart, mainly when it is a regular feature of everyday life. Try incorporating deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, meditation, or yoga into your daily routine to counteract the effects of stress.