Why Vitamin K2 is Crucial if You Take Vitamin D and Calcium …

Vitamin K2 engages in a delicate dance with vitamin D; whereas vitamin D provides improved bone development by helping you absorb calcium, there is new evidence that vitamin K2 directs the calcium to your skeleton, while preventing it from being deposited where you don’t want it — i.e., your organs, joint spaces, and arteries. As mentioned, a large part of arterial plaque consists of calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), hence the term “hardening of the arteries.”

Vitamin K2 has also actually been found to decalcify certain tissues undergoing pathological (also known as ectopic) calcification. Vitamin K2 activates a protein hormone called osteocalcin, produced by osteoblasts, which is needed to bind calcium into the matrix of your bone. Osteocalcin also appears to help prevent calcium from depositing into your arteries.

In other words, without the help of vitamin K2, the calcium that your vitamin D so effectively lets in might be working AGAINST you — by building up your coronary arteries rather than your bones. This is why if you take calcium and vitamin D but are deficient in vitamin K, you could be worse off than if you were not taking those supplements at all.  

Top 10 Vitamin K Rich Foods List

  1. Green Leafy Vegetables (Kale) – ½ c: 444 mcg (over 100% DV)
  2. Natto (fermented soy) – 2 oz: 500 mcg (over 100% DV)
  3. Spring onions (Scallions) – ½ c: 103 mcg (over 100% DV)
  4. Brussels Sprouts – ½ c: 78 mcg (98% DV)
  5. Cabbage – ½ cup: 82 mcg (over 100% DV)
  6. Broccoli – ½ c: 46 mcg (58% DV)
  7. Dairy (fermented) – ½ c: 10 mcg (10% DV)
  8. Prunes½ c: 52 mcg (65% DV)
  9. Cucumbers – 1 medium: 49 mcg (61% DV)
  10. Dried basil – 1 Tbsp: 36 mcg (45% DV)

Try consuming 2-3 of these vitamin k rich foods daily. 


Sources

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Vitamin D Cofactors

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A Healthy diet is important for receiving vitamin D’s cofactors.

Nutrients act in a synergetic way in the body. Absorption and metabolism of a particular nutrient will be affected, to a greater or lesser degree, by the other nutrients available to the body. This is also true with vitamin D.

In order to receive the most health benefit from increased levels of vitamin D, the proper cofactors must be present in the body. Vitamin D has many cofactors, but the ones listed below are the most important. Magnesium should be considered the most important one of all.

Magnesium
Vitamin K
•Vitamin A (coming soon)
Zinc
Boron

Source:
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/16/vitamin-k2.aspx?e_cid=20121216_SNL_Art_1

Vitamin D Levels Lower in African-Americans, Research Finds

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ScienceDaily (Jan. 19, 2011) — African-American women had lower vitamin D levels than white women, and vitamin D deficiency was associated with a greater likelihood for aggressive breast cancer, according to data presented at the Third AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities.

“We know that darker skin pigmentation acts somewhat as a block to producing vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, which is the primary source of vitamin D in most people,” said Susan Steck, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Carolina.

Steck and colleagues observed 107 women who were all diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous five years. Sixty of these women were African-American, while the remaining 47 were white.

All women donated a blood sample, and vitamin D status was determined using circulating 25 hydroxyvitamin D levels as a marker. The mean serum concentration of vitamin D was 29.8 ng/ml in white women and 19.3 ng/ml in African-American women.

Researchers defined vitamin D deficiency as a serum concentration less than 20 ng/ml, and found this to be the case in 60 percent of African-American women compared with 15 percent of white women. Serum levels were lowest among patients with triple-negative breast cancer, and aggressive disease was eight times more likely among patients with vitamin D deficiency.

Steck said the findings of this study provide a foundation for a possible prevention strategy, but further research would be required.

Recourses:
American Association for Cancer Research (2011, January 19). Vitamin D levels lower in African-Americans, research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 3, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2010/10/101003081631.htm

Vitamin D Deficiency Contributes to Pain in African Americans With Osteoarthritis

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A study published in Arthritis & Rheumatismreports that black Americans have higher rates of vitamin D deficiency and pain sensitivity when compared to white Americans. Vitamin D deficiency may be one of the many factors that account for increased pain in older black Americans with knee osteoarthritis (OA).

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Osteoarthritis involves degradation of the joints, causing joint pain, stiffness, tenderness, and locking.

Researchers at the University of Florida and the University of Alabama at Birmingham recruited 94 participants for the study, 45 black and 49 white patients with OA. The group was 75% female with an average age of 56 years.

All patients completed questionnaires regarding their symptoms. They also underwent sensory testing, measuring sensitivity to heat and pain on the affected knee and forearm.

Eighty-four percent of black participants had vitamin D levels below 30ng/ml compared to 51% of whites. The average vitamin D level for black participants was 19.9. ng/ml compared to white participants with an average level of 28.2 ng/ml.

The researchers found that black participants reported increased overall knee osteoarthritis pain and those with lower vitamin D status displayed greater sensitivity to heat and pain.

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“Our data demonstrate that differences in experimental pain sensitivity between the two races are mediated at least in part by variations in vitamin D levels,” Lead author Toni Glover explains.

The authors are currently planning further research to study the impact of improving vitamin D levels on chronic pain in black and white older Americans.

Sources:

Science News. Lack of vitamin D contributes to pain in black Americans with knee osteoarthritis. Science Daily. November 7, 2012.
Glover TL, et al. Vitamin D, race, and experimental pain sensitivity in older adults with knee osteoarthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism. November 7, 2012.

When’s the Last Time You Spent Time in the Sun?

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This is an important question to answer, because vitamin D from sun exposure is the best way to optimize your vitamin D levels and thereby reduce your risk of a wide range of diseases. 

Unfortunately, it’s been suggested that only about 30 percent of Americans’ circulating vitamin D is the product of sunlight exposure, which is an unfortunate byproduct of public health agencies’ misguided advice to stay out of the sun to avoid cancer (when in fact vitamin D from sun exposure will prevent cancer). Another obvious reason is the majority of us work indoors, and when not working, do not spend enough time enjoying outdoor recreation.

Occasional sunlight exposure to your face and hands is insufficient for vitamin D nutrition for most people. To optimize your levels, you need to expose large portions of your skin to the sun, and you may need to do it for more than a few minutes. And, contrary to popular belief, the best time to be in the sun for vitamin D production is actually as near to solar noon as possible. Ultraviolet light from the sun comes in two main wavelengths — UVA and UVB. It’s important for you to understand the difference between them, and your risk factors from each.

First there is UVB, the healthy wavelengths that help your skin produce vitamin D. Then there is UVA, which is generally considered the unhealthy wavelengths because they penetrate your skin more deeply and cause more free radical damage. Not only that, but UVA rays are quite constant during ALL hours of daylight, throughout the entire year — unlike UVB, which are low in morning and evening, and high at midday.

So to use the sun to maximize your vitamin D production and minimize your risk of skin damage, the middle of the day (roughly between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.) is the best and safest time. During this UVB-intense period you will need the shortest sun exposure time to produce the most vitamin D.

As far as the optimal length of exposure, you only need enough to have your skin turn the lightest shade of pink. This may only be a few minutes for those who have very pale skin.

Once you have reached this point your body will not make any additional vitamin D and any further exposure will only result in damage to your skin. Most people with fair skin will max out their vitamin D production in just 10-20 minutes, or, again, when their skin starts turning the lightest shade of pink. Some will need less, others more. The darker your skin, the longer exposure you will need to optimize your vitamin D production.  If sun exposure is not an option a vitamin D3 supplement can be taken orally.

Research published by Grassroots Health from the D*Action study shows the average adult needs to take 8,000 IU’s of vitamin D per day in order to elevate their levels above 40 ng/ml, which they believe is the absolute minimum for disease prevention.

Important: Your Serum Level is what Really Matters

While 8,000 IU’s of vitamin D3 per day is a general recommendation that appears to be beneficial for most people, vitamin D experts from around the world are in agreement that the most important factor is your vitamin D serum level. There’s no specific dosage level at which “magic” happens. So the take-home message is that you need to take whatever dosage required to obtain a therapeutic level of vitamin D in your blood.

At the time (in 2007) the recommended level was 40-60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). Since then, the optimal vitamin D level has been raised to 50-70 ng/ml, and when treating cancer or heart disease, as high as 70-100 ng/ml.

 

 

References:

 

The Two Types of Vitamin D

Supplemental Vitamin D Comes In Two Forms:

1. Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2)
2. Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3)

They have long been regarded as equivalent and interchangeable+ especially since a recognized vitamin D expert, Dr. Michael Hollick, recoomended it. But that notion was based on studies of rickets prevention in infants conducted several decades ago. Today, we know a lot more about vitamin D, and the featured study offers compelling support for the recommendation to take vitamin D3 if you need to take an oral supplement—which is the same type of D vitamin created in your body when you expose your skin to sunlight.

According to the latest research, D3 is approximately 87 percent more potent in raising and maintaining vitamin D concentrations and produces 2- to 3-fold greater storage of vitamin D than does D2. Regardless of which form you use, your body must convert it into a more active form, and vitamin D3 is converted 500 percent faster than vitamin D2. Vitamin D2 also has a shorter shelf life, and its metabolites bind poorly with proteins, further hampering its effectiveness.

Unfortunately, vitamin D2—which is a synthetic version made by irradiating fungus and plant matter—is the form of vitamin D most often prescribed by doctors in the U.S. Hopefully this will change sooner rather than later.

As stated by Dr. Cannell in the featured article:

“While there may be explanations for D3’s superiority other than improved efficacy, for the time being, these papers send doctors a message: use D3, not D2.”

The Incredible Health Benefits of Vitamin D
Optimizing your vitamin D levels may be one of the most important steps you can take in support of your long-term health. There’s overwhelming evidence that vitamin D is a key player in your overall health. This is understandable when you consider that it is not “just” a vitamin; it’s actually a neuroregulatory steroidal hormone that influences nearly 3,000 different genes in your body. Receptors that respond to the vitamin have been found in almost every type of human cell, from your brain to your bones.

Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections, as well as chronic inflammation. It produces over 200 antimicrobial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic. This is one of the explanations for why it can be so effective against colds and influenza.

That said, keeping a close eye on your vitamin D levels is a wise move for most. The widespread vitamin D deficiency seen today is now thought to fuel an astonishingly diverse array of common chronic diseases, including: Cancer, Hypertension, Heart disease, Autism, Obesity, Rheumatoid arthritis , Diabetes 1 and 2, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Cold & Flu, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Tuberculosis, Signs of aging Dementia, Eczema & Psoriasis, Muscle pain, Cavities, Osteoporosis, Macular degeneration, Pre eclampsia, Seizures, Infertility, Asthma, Cystic fibrosis, Migraines, Depression, Alzheimer’s disease and Schizophrenia.

References:
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews July 6, 2011;(7):CD007470

Top 10 Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency You Need to Recognize

Am I vitamin D deficient?

The best way to discover vitamin D deficiency is to take a blood test that will measure the level of the vitamin in your blood. You can either ask your doctor to administer the test or buy a home test kit do the test yourself. However, you are certainly vitamin D deficient if you have any of the following ailments, and you need to consult with your doctor regarding your preventive, as well as curative, options as soon as possible.

1.) The flu – In a study published in the Cambridge Journals, it was discovered that vitamin D deficiency predisposes children to respiratory diseases. An intervention study conducted showed that vitamin D reduces the incidence of respiratory infections in children.

2.) Muscle weakness – According to Michael F. Holick, a leading vitamin D expert, muscle weakness is usually caused by vitamin D deficiency because for skeletal muscles to function properly, their vitamin D receptors must be sustained by vitamin D.

3.) Psoriasis – In a study published by the UK PubMed central, it was discovered that synthetic vitamin D analogues were found useful in the treatment of psoriasis.

4.) Chronic kidney disease – According to Holick, patients with advanced chronic kidney diseases (especially those requiring dialysis) are unable to make the active form of vitamin D. These individuals need to take 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 or one of its calcemic analogues to support calcium metabolism, decrease the risk of renal bone disease and regulate parathyroid hormone levels.

5.) Diabetes – A study conducted in Finland was featured in Lancet.com in which 10,366 children were given 2000 international units (IU)/day of vitamin D3 per day during their first day of life. The children were monitored for 31 years and in all of them, the risk of type 1 diabetes was reduced by 80 percent.

6.) AsthmaVitamin D may reduce the severity of asthma attacks. Research conducted in Japan revealed that asthma attacks in school children were significantly lowered in those subjects taking a daily vitamin D supplement of 1200 IU a day.

7.) Periodontal disease – Those suffering from this chronic gum disease that causes swelling and bleeding gums should consider raising their vitamin D levels to produce defensins and cathelicidin, compounds that contain microbial properties and lower the number of bacteria in the mouth.

8.) Cardiovascular disease – Congestive heart failure is associated with vitamin D deficiency. Research conducted at Harvard University among nurses found that women with low vitamin D levels (17 ng/m [42 nmol/L]) had a 67 percent increased risk of developing hypertension.

9.)  Depression – These disorders have been linked to vitamin D deficiency. In a study, it was discovered that maintaining sufficient vitamin D among pregnant women and during childhood was necessary to satisfy the vitamin D receptor in the brain integral for brain development and mental function maintenance in later life.

10.) Cancer – Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington DC discovered a connection between high vitamin D intake and reduced risk of breast cancer. These findings, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research, revealed that increased doses of the sunshine vitamin were linked to a 75 percent reduction in overall cancer growth and 50 percent reduction in tumor cases among those already having the disease. Of interest was the capacity of vitamin supplementation to help control the development and growth of breast cancer specially estrogen-sensitive breast cancer.

Prevention is proactive

These various health conditions associated with vitamin D deficiency need not be something to fear. A proactive approach to prevention can assist in the avoidance of the many chronic diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency. For one, thousands of dollars can be saved, not to mention the peace of mind, simply at the cost of taking a walk under the sun. Save the umbrellas for the rainy days.

Sources for this article:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,510299,00.html
http://journals.cambridge.org
http://www.vitamindcouncil.com
http://www.naturalnews.com/032222_breast_cancer_vitamin_D.html

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/035089_vitamin_D_deficiency_signs_symptoms.html#ixzz2850yoavU

Daily Dose: Vitamin D

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You’ve probably heard all about the immunity benefits of vitamin C – but today it’s time to move one letter down the alphabet. It turns out that vitamin D may actually be the more critical vitamin when it comes to fighting off colds. An important member of Dr. Oz’s anti-aging checklist, vitamin D plays a number of roles in our bodies, including:

  • Promoting absorption of calcium and bone health
  • Boosting immune function
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Healthy neuro-muscular function
  • Protecting against some forms of cancer

For such an amazing nutrient, vitamin D doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, perhaps because very few foods in nature contain vitamin D. The best sources are salmon, tuna and mackerel (especially the flesh) and fish liver oils. Beef liver, cheese and egg yolks also contain small amounts. If these foods don’t sound very appealing to you, there is good news: you don’t have to eat vitamin D to make sure you’re getting your daily dose! Vitamin D is actually produced in your body when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike your skin. The UV rays trigger synthesis of vitamin D, which then gets converted in your liver into its active form. 

This means one of the best ways to get vitamin D is to spend about 10-15 minutes a day outside in the sun. Keep in mind that wearing sunscreen will prevent you from getting adequate vitamin D outdoors. In the summertime, an easy solution is skipping sunscreen on your legs for the first 15 minutes in the sun. Just make sure you apply in time to prevent any burns or damage.

 So exactly how much Vitamin D should you aim for each day? For all ages, Dr. Oz recommends a daily dose of 400 IU (and perhaps even as high as 1000 IU).

So if preventing colon, prostate and breast cancers, building strong bones, fighting off colds, and slowing aging sounds like a good deal to you – look for in all in one simple package: vitamin D.