Women's Heart Health & Vitamin K2: Part I
From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO...
This week's blog is regarding Vitamin K2-an important vitamin essential for heart health, bone health, fertility, and much more. In honor of America's Health Heart Month, I thought I would discuss Vitamin K2 and its role in both preventing heart disease, osteoporosis, as well as many other conditions. If you have a family history of heart disease or want to know how you can prevent the onset of osteopenia (a precursor to osteoporosis), then you should know about Vitamin K2.
The story of Vitamin K2 is long and windy, but it is worth the read given its vital importance for your overall health. In the past few years, the subject of Vitamin D has been a hot topic among health care practitioners and I can only hope that the conversation begins to include Vitamin K2.
Here is a list of conditions associated with Vitamin K2 deficiency:
- Atherosclerosis (the hardening of arteries which may lead to strokes, heart attacks, other cardiovascular diseases)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Dental cavities & narrowing of the dental arch in both children and adults
- Increased risk of cancer including breast, prostate, and liver
- Infertility (including male fertility in relation to regulating testosterone levels)
- Kidney Disease
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
You may be wondering why you’ve never heard of Vitamin K2, if it is so important in the body. When I mention Vitamin K2 along with its benefits, the typical response from my clients is a blank stare. Most of my patients have never heard of Vitamin K2 and there is good reason. Vitamin K2 and its discovery simply got lost in the shuffle. I’ve included a brief history about the discovery of Vitamin K2 later in this blog. The forgotten discovery of K2 helps us to understand why this vitamin is relatively unknown and not well understood. However, let’s first talk about what it does and how you can get it into your diet.
How does Vitamin K2 work?
Vitamin K2 works by activating proteins to assist calcium to deposit in your skeleton. K2 also activates another protein called matrix Gla-protein (MGP) which helps to remove calcium out of soft tissues such as the arteries and veins where minerals can be potentially harmful. These mechanisms help in the prevention of both cardiovascular disease as well as osteoporosis and tooth decay. In addition to being important for bone metabolism and maintaining the elasticity of the cardiovascular system, Vitamin K2 is also thought to help activate other proteins responsible for inhibiting cancerous growths. Last but not least, Vitamin K2 is also found in high concentrations in the brain where it contributes to myelin production. K2 is thought to be protective against free radical damage in the brain and potentially play a role in the development of the central nervous system. Additionally, we know that it plays a role in insulin sensitivity and blood glucose linking it to two related disorders: diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Now that you know a little bit about Vitamin K2, you may be wondering-how do I get this into my diet? Consider eating natto (a Japanese fermented food), some fermented foods such as certain cheeses, or grass feed meat and dairy products. Want more details? Check in next week to read more about how you can get Vitamin K2 into your diet and the discovery of Vitamin K2.
Until then, happy natto eating!
Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO
Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 500 acupuncturists in the United States. Prior to studying Traditional Chinese Medicine, she graduated from the University of California at Davis with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery.
She currently maintains a private acupuncture practice in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood. Her practice was awarded Best Acupuncture Center by Boston Magazine. Areas of specialty include women's health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For clients interested in learning more about the benefits of acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please visit our acupuncture + fertility page. New patients can book online to schedule any acupuncture service including a complimentary consult.
In addition to seeing patients in her private practice, Jessica works as a health care consultant for integrative medical institutes in the United States. Her clients include IVF and infertility centers, functional medicine offices, orthopedic facilities, concierge practices, and green spas. If you are interested in learning more about these services, please contact OMBE.
Prior to her consulting work, Jessica founded an integrative health center in Boston. The eco-friendly center was one of the first twenty-five companies certified as a Sustainable Business Leader in Boston. During its ten-year tenure, the center provided services including acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, naturopathy, nutritional counseling, personal training, Pilates, and yoga. The center's class studio offered mom and baby programming, Mongan Method Hypnobirthing, natural childbirth education, the Holistic Moms Network, as well as ballet barre, Pilates, and yoga classes. The center was the recipient of several awards, including Mayor Menino's Green Business Award, a multiple recipient of Boston Business Journal's Best Workplace, Boston Magazine's Best of Boston Award for Massage Therapy as well as Best Eco-Friendly Massage, Eco-Beauty Bar, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, Pilates, and Workout.