Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Heart Disease, K-2 and Statins
Better Bone and Heart Health

Vitamin K was discovered in 1929, according to Wedman-St Louis (2015), and named for the German word koagulation, with Henrik Dam and Edward A. Doisy receiving the Nobel Prize for their research in 1943. But vitamin K is a multifunctional nutrient.

Vitamin K-1, or phylloquinone, is found in green leafy vegetables and used by the liver for blood coagulation in 10 hours.

Vitamin K-2, also known as MK-7 or menaquinone, comes from natto (fermented soybeans), organ meats, egg yolks and raw milk cheeses. It circulates throughout the body over a 24-hour period.

Rotterdam Study 

The Rotterdam Study in the 2004 Journal of Nutrition focused on the role of K-2 as an inhibitor of calcification in the arteries and the major contributor to bone-rebuilding osteocalcin. The study reported that K-2 resulted in a 50 percent reduction in arterial calcification, a 50 percent reduction in cardiovascular deaths and a 25 percent reduction in all causes of mortality. K-1 had no effect on cardiovascular health (Wedman-St Louis, 2015).

In fact, Rotterdam Study findings suggest a protective effect of menaquinone (Vitamin K-2) intake against chronic heart disease congenital heart defect coronary heart disease (CHD), which could be mediated by inhibition of arterial calcification. Adequate intake of foods rich in menaquinones, such as curds and (low-fat) cheese, may contribute to CHD prevention (Geleijnse et al., 2004).

Multiple Forms

Vitamin K-2 is not a single vitamin, but rather is a form of vitamin K itself, which is composed of a number of different forms.  Vitamin K-1, for example,  is found primarily in leafy green vegetables and its main function is in the production of blood clotting proteins.  All are considered to be fat-soluble vitamins and are required by the body for a number of different biochemical reactions including blood clotting, calcium balance, energy production and the creation of powerful antioxidants.  Vitamin K-2 can be made from vitamin K-1 by many different organs in the body. It is also made in several different forms by the bacteria in the bowel (Massey, 2017).

Vitamin K-3 is no longer used to treat vitamin K deficiency because of associated toxicities (Massey, 2017).

Also, there are many different forms of vitamin K-2. The best food sources of Vitamin K-2 are grass-fed dairy products, emu oil, gouda and brie cheese, and natto, a very strong tasting fermented soy product with roots in Japan. Vitamin K-2 from animal sources is known as MK-4, while Vitamin K-2 from natto, produced by bacterial fermentation, is known as MK-7. Vitamin K-2 from animal sources is known as MK-4 while Vitamin K-2 produced by bacterial fermentation as found in natto is known as MK-7 (Pope, 2017). Of the two forms, MK-7 is preferred. It lasts longer in the body and has a greater physiological effect (Wiggy, 2016).

Calcium Regulation

It is well documented, according to Pizzorno (2008), that vitamin K-2 (menaquinone) is the essential cofactor for the carboxylation (activation) of the (gamma-carboxyglutamic acid) Gla-containing proteins involved in calcium regulation.

Numerous peer-reviewed studies have shown that vitamin K-2 — given either as the (vitamin store) synthetic form MK-4 (a short-chain version called menatetrenone) at a dosage of 45 mg/day, or as the natural form, MK-7 (a long-chain menaquinone derived from natto) at a dosage of 45 mcg/day — is a highly effective activator of osteocalcin, the Gla-containing protein integral to calcium deposition in bone. This body of research conclusively demonstrates that vitamin K2 not only lessens fracture incidence and improves bone density but also, via the carboxylation of another Gla protein (matrix Gla protein), inhibits arterial calcification (Pizzorno, 2008).

Statins and Heart Health

Interestingly, a recent study suggests that statin medication use, instead of reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, may indirectly increase it.  The reason is because of the interactions of statins with various metabolic pathways involving vitamin K-2. This is important because low levels of vitamin K-2 are associated with an increased risk of not only severe coronary artery disease (CAD) but also type II diabetes and mortality (Massey, 2017).

Statin-induced suppression of prenyl intermediates in the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway has been linked to stimulated atherosclerosis and heart failure. On the other hand, certain types of vegetable oil and hydrogenated oil shortened the survival of stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats by decreasing platelet number, increasing hemorrhagic tendency and damaging kidney functions, which could not be accounted for by their fatty acid and phytosterol compositions. These vegetable oils and medicines such as statin and warfarin share, in part, a common mechanism to inhibit vitamin K2-dependent processes, which was interpreted to lead to increased onset of CVD, DM, chronic kidney disease, bone fracture and even mental disorder (Okuyama, et al., 2016).

The article was published in the medical journal Pharmacology in 2016, Massey (2017) said. A large group of researchers from several universities in Japan explained that many of the mechanisms associated with the prevention of coronary artery disease (CAD) are vitamin K-2 dependent. That means that low a level of vitamin K-2 may increase the risk of severe coronary artery disease.

They also discussed the fact that statin medications inhibit the production of vitamin K-2. It is well-known that statin medications reduce the production of a very specific compound called coenzyme Q 10. However they also reduce the production of other coenzyme Q 10 look-a-like compounds that are essential for vitamin K-2 to reduce the risk of severe CAD.

In addition, statin medications directly inhibit the conversion of vitamin K-1 to vitamin K-2.  The end result is a significant increase in the risk of both the development and severity of CAD (Massey, 2017).

Refined Oils

The vegetable oils, found at most grocery stores, should also be mentioned. They are clear, tasteless, highly refined and processed oils — most commonly sunflower, soybean, canola, safflower and corn oils (Landers, 2016).  Olive oil is the best oil to use, but this has not been confirmed.  (The original study has yet to be read in its entirety.)

Best Source of Vitamin K-2

According to Day (2017), the very best way to prevent a vitamin K-2 deficiency, is to eat a large serving of green leafy vegetables every day. Green leafy vegetables are sky high in vitamin K-1. Your body will then convert vitamin K-1 to vitamin K-2.

Fermented foods, like fermented soybeans, sauerkraut, and some cheeses, such as brie or gouda, can all be good sources of vitamin K-2. Even though yogurt and kefir are also fermented foods, the grocery store variety contains the wrong bacteria for vitamin K-2.

Other good sources of vitamin K-2 include liver and grass fed chicken eggs. Of all these sources, nothing even comes close to the amount of vitamin K-2 found in natto or fermented soybeans. Indeed, one serving of natto has enough vitamin K-2 for an entire week. Not only is natto loaded with vitamin K-2, but this fermented food may also help your gut flora.

Natto is a delicacy in Japan. Unfortunately, most Westerners cannot tolerate the taste (Day, 2017).


Very high doses of vitamin K-2 have proved remarkably safe in large clinical trials, according to Masterjohn (2016), but there are safety concerns for people taking prescription anticoagulants, and there are reasons to be cautious about high doses even for healthy people.

As a class, these drugs act as vitamin K antagonists, and it is absolutely critical that anyone taking them avoid making any changes to their diet or supplements that would be expected to change their vitamin K intake except under the strict supervision of the physician who prescribed the medication.

Smaller Dose Ideal 

Long-term use of 45 mg per day of MK-4 has not revealed any established toxicity syndrome or risk of serious side effects. This is 225 times the dose I recommend (this is a recommendation of 200 mcg, or 20 percent of 1 mg). Nevertheless, the biochemistry of vitamin K suggests that unnecessarily high doses could rob the body of antioxidants or interfere with blood sugar regulation, insulin sensitivity, and hormonal health (Masterjohn, 2016).


Day, J. (2017). Nine signs you may have vitamin k-2 deficiency. The Longevity Plan. Retrieved July 11, 2017 from http://drjohnday.com/9-signs-you-may-have-vitamin-k2-deficiency/

Geleijnse, J.M., et al. (2004). Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the rotterdam study. The Journal of Nutrition. Retrieved July 11, 2017 from http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/11/3100.full.pdf

Massey, P. (2017, May 22). Vitamin K plays a role when taking statin medications. Chicago Daily Herald, p. 0.

Masterjohn, C. (2016, December 9). The Ultimate Vitamin K-2Resource. Chris Masterjohn PhD. Retrieved July, 12, 2017 from https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/2016/12/09/the-ultimate-vitamin-k2-resource/

Okuyama, H., et al. (2016, June 2). Medicines and vegetable oils as hidden causes of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Pharmacology, 98(3-4), 134-70. (Abstract). Retrieved July 11, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27251151

Pizzorno, J. (2008, October 27). Vitamin k2, but not vitamin k1, is helpful for bone density. WebMD. Retrieved July 11, 2017 from http://blogs.webmd.com/integrative-medicine-wellness/2008/10/vitamin-k2-but-not-vitamin-k1-is-helpful-for-bone-density.html

Pope, S. (2017). Which Vitamin K2 Supplement is Best: MK-4 or MK-7? The Healthy Home Economist. Retrieved July 11, 2017 from http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/which-vitamin-k2-supplement-is-best-mk-4-or-mk-7/

Wedman-St Louis, B. (2015, October 15). The strength of vitamin k-2. Tampa Bay Times, p. 5.

Wiggy. (2016, March 22). Different types of vitamin K (k1/k2/mk-4/mk-7) explained. (Online Video Recording). Videos: Health As It Ought To Be. Retrieved July 11, 2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7BUBeCQev4

Monday, June 12, 2017

Tirbulus Terrestris
What You Need to Know

Tribulus is a summer-growing, creeping annual, and according to Keogh (2004) is found in New South Wales, South Australia , Victoria and throughout parts of the United States, Europe, India and China. It has a hairy stem and flat, fern-like divided leaves.

“Tribulus leaf contains one steroidal saponin called protodiocin which is now standardized to produce a popular bodybuilding supplement. It is purported protodiocin is converted to testosterone and possibly other anabolic hormones … quality extracts of both the leaf and fruit parts of Tribulus can increase the body's own testosterone production to not only provide a mild anabolic effect when used in conjunction with weight training, but also to enhance hormone balance and sexual vitality in men and women” (Keogh, p. 26).

The plant has many names, among them Puncture Vine and Caltrop, but Goat Head is the common name. A week after each flower blooms, a "fruit" follows. This seeded "nutlet" bears spines that resemble goats' (or bulls') heads. The Latin name "tribulus" meant "caltrop," a spiky weapon (Chávez, 2008).

The small yellow flowers produce an ugly, woody, spiny fruit which breaks into five wedge-shaped sections when ripe. Traditionally, Keogh (2004) said, the fruit is used in (Hindu) Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Research from Bulgaria demonstrates the leaves are also therapeutic.

“Although the chemistry changes between the different plant parts, it is evident that substances called steroidal saponins contribute to this plant's activity” (Keogh, p. 26).

In men, tribulus terrestris boosts testosterone levels by increasing luteininzing hormone (LH) levels. LH is the hormone that signals the body to start making natural testosterone. In a study involving individuals taking 750 mg per day of tribulus terrestris results showed that LH increased by 72%. Free testosterone increased by 41% (Weekly Blitz, 2011).

The luteinizing hormone also stimulates progesterone production in women.… (thus) tribulus can help the body balance female hormones. In one study, 50 women (26 of whom were experiencing natural menopause and 24 of whom were surgically menopausal through removal of the ovaries) received standardized Tribulus terrestris (20 to 29 per cent mixed steroidal saponins) at a dosage of 500mg to 750mg a day after an initial higher loading dose (Keogh, 2004).

Tribulus treatment resulted in significant improvement in hot flashes, sweating, depression, insomnia and anxiety in 98per cent of the patients. Tribulus combines well with Cimicifuga (Black Cohosh) and Vitex for female menopause and Epimedium and Curculigo for male andropause (Keogh, 2004).

While results are promising, caution is advised. “The literature abounds with reports of (herbs) adverse effects…. (There are reports of) a case of T. terrestris-induced hepatotoxicity, nephrotoxicity and neurotoxicity in an Iranian male patient who used the plant’s extract to prevent kidney stone formation. He presented with seizure and very high serum aminotransferases and creatinine after consuming (the) herbal water for 2 days. Discontinuation of the herbal remedy resulted in improvement in symptoms and normalization of his liver enzymes (Talasaz et al., 2010).

“There are reports of hepatorenal syndrome and neurotoxicity in goats and sheep grazing on T. terrestris, but to our knowledge, his is the first report of human adverse reactions (Talasaz et al., 2010).

Also, it should be remembered, luteininzing hormones (LH) need to aromatize (convert) into another hormone through enzymes. That means it could become estrogen or growth hormone or insulin or testosterone. It doesn't automatically become testosterone. So, raising LH levels won't guarantee...testosterone, estrogen will very likely increase with it (tombstone3, 2007).

Lab tests on animals link tribulus to problems ii fetal development. Women should stay away from tribulus if they are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, men should be aware that there are some concerns about possible links between tribulus and prostrate problems (Mohan, 2017).

Tribulus has been known to interact with certain medications. It is not recommended for those taking heart and blood pressure medications, for example (Mohan, 2017).

A problem with tachycardia, or a high resting heart rate has also been reported.  Healthy adults experiencing tachycardia should reduce their dosage (Supplement Reviews, 2013-2017).  Those with heart problems or concerns should not take tribulus. Cycling off tribulus, or any testosterone booster (or limiting the length of its use), is often recommended for most healthy adults.

A dosage of 85 to 250 mg three times daily with meals is fairly common and considered safe (Freedman, 2017).

“Some manufacturers claim tribulus terrestris will not lead to a positive drug test, but some experts agree that T. terrestris may increase the urinary testosterone/epitestosterone (T/E) ratio, which may place athletes at risk of a positive drug test” (Freedman, 2017).

This is a weed. A weed of sharp spines and medicinal potency.  Its thistle-like thorns get stuck in cow’s hooves, bare feet, and even bicycle tires. The plant has even been used as a murderous weapon by indigenous tribes of southern Africa. They tainted the seeds with poison and then put them for the victim to step and press down with the foot (Tribulus Terrestris Basics, 2017).  But its saponins can work wonders, and gets good reviews — especially Bulgaria tirbulus. But tirbulus terrestris can also cause harm.


Chávez, P.E. (2008, September 11). Pesky toritos. Ruidoso News, (Column). Polly's potpourri.

Freedman, L. (2017). Supplement guide: tribulus terrestris. Men’s Fitness. Retrieved June 10, 2017 from http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/supplements/supplement-guide-tribulus-terrestris

Keogh, P. (2004, January 6). A helpful hormone balancer for both sexes; natural health. Newcastle Herald, p. 26.

Mohan, P.C. (2017, May 22). Tribulus Terrestris. WebMD. (Edited). Retrieved June 12, 2017 from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/tribulus-terrestris-uses-and-risks

Talasaz, A.H., Abbasi, M-R., Abkhiz, S., & Dsahti-Khavidaki, S. (2010, July 28). Tribulus terrestris-induced severe nephrotoxicity in a young healthy male. Nephrol Dial Transplant 2010; 25 (11): 3792-3793. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfq457. (Online.) Retrieved June 11, 2017 from https://academic.oup.com/ndt/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ndt/gfq457

Tombstone3. (2007, January 14). In certain tests [Msg 9]. Message posted to https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=1070361

Tribulus Terrestris Basics. (2017). Chinese herbs. Retrieved June 11, 2017 from http://www.chinese-herbs.org/tribulus-terrestris/

Tribulus terrestris is a common testosterone booster ingredient… how effective is it? is it dangerous? (2013-2017). The Supplement Reviews. Retrieved June 6, 2017 from http://thesupplementreviews.org/testosterone-boosters/ingredients/the-benefits-and-side-effects-of-tribulus-terrestris/

Weekly Blitz. (2011). [In men, tribulus terrestris boosts testosterone levels by increasing luteininzing hormone (LH) levels]. Retrieved June 10, 2017 from http://www.weeklyblitz.net. (Offline June 12, 2017).