Fish Oil, Vitamin D & Vitamin K: The Three Amigos for Bone & Heart Health
By Dr. Jen Morganti, NEEDS Education Director
Supplements can be a great way to boost your nutrient intake, especially on those days when your diet is less than perfect. But in some cases, certain vitamins are best taken together. The fact is, how you take a supplement may impact how much of the nutrients your body absorbs and receives.
What are Fat-Soluble Vitamins?
There are two types of vitamins— water-soluble and fat-soluble. Most are water-soluble, meaning they dissolve in water and can be excreted rapidly when the body doesn't need them. In contrast, fat-soluble vitamins are best absorbed in fat and are stored in the body's tissues when not in use. Fat-soluble vitamins are best absorbed into the blood stream when ingested with fats.
The Synergistic Relationship between Vitamins D and K
Many nutrients complement each other; vitamin D and vitamin K are a good example of this. They are both extremely important fat-soluble supplements when it comes to supporting our overall health. They both have the primary function of regulating calcium levels in the body through different means. Together, they provide a powerful combination that supports cardiovascular and bone health. Unfortunately, most of us do not get enough of these vitamins from our daily diets, so they should be considered in a daily supplement routine.
Vitamin D is probably most wellknown for supporting optimal bone health and density. Some researchers believe vitamin D to be as critical to bone health as calcium, because D facilitates the absorption of calcium from food and supplements from the gastrointestinal tract into the blood stream. Vitamin D also helps maintain proper calcium levels in the blood, which facilitates the initial process of calcium entering into bones, muscle contraction, and other important functions.
Researchers have discovered that maintaining healthy vitamin D levels also provides a myriad of benefits for our overall health. Vitamin D supports heart health via its anti-inflammatory activities. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin D may help prevent atherosclerosis, which is largely correlated with inflammation in blood vessels.
Beyond osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, vitamin D deficiency has been linked with other health problems, including inflammation, depression, seasonal affective disorder, nervous system problems, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and musculoskeletal pain. Vitamin D deficiency has also been shown to double the risk of having a heart attack, chest pain, stroke, and heart failure.
Blood clotting is one of the most commonly known benefits of vitamin K. However, at optimal levels, researchers are discovering that vitamin K might be just as important to our overall health as vitamin D. There are two main forms of vitamin K—K1 and K2— and each has a unique purpose. K1 is related to the cardiovascular system in the sense that it activates and balances clotting factors to prevent excessive bleeding or hemorrhaging.
K2 is related to cardiovascular health because it helps keep blood vessels healthy and flexible. When arteries lose their flexibility, blood flow is constricted and the risk of heart disease increases dramatically. This is also known as aortic calcification because it's caused by calcium deposits (calcification) in arteries (aortic). K2 preserves elastin, a protein the body produces that keeps blood vessels flexible and elastic.
If not enough K2 is present, excess calcium is deposited in arteries. K2 acts as a calcium diverter and activates a protein (MGP), which pulls the calcium out of blood vessels and shuttles the calcium into bone building actions. Vitamin K orchestrates the proper utilization of calcium in the body and without enough K2 there is an increased risk of both cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
Why Take Vitamins D and K in a Fish Oil Base?
The omega-3 fatty acids (also known as essential fatty acids) found in fish oil provides excellent support for the heart and vascular systems. Fish oil offers both EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). DHA is best known for its brain support. EPA is the direct precursor for the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, which helps prevent blood vessel inflammation associated with atherosclerosis.
Although omega-3 fats might not be on the top of the list for proven bone support nutrients, they do support healthy calcium balance and positively impact the cells that build bone. Because fish oil is a fat, it promotes the absorption of vitamin D and vitamin K by preparing the body to secrete enzymes that promote fat absorption.
Because vitamin D and vitamin K share a complementary working relationship for both bone and cardiovascular health, it makes sense to take them together in an oil base. Physicians generally recommend taking 2,000-10,000 IUs of vitamin D daily for optimal health. Vitamin D toxicity is rare when taken in the form of D3.
Vitamin K2 is safe, non-toxic, and the minimum recommended dose is 80 ug. It is best absorbed in a supplement form known as MK7. With the current trend of taking high doses of calcium and vitamin D, it's critical to balance those with vitamin K2. Without K2, calcium levels can easily get out of balance which can lead to cardiovascular problems. Vitamin K2 and D3, combined with 2-3 grams of fish oil daily add up to a winning combination that decreases overall inflammation and prevents cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
BioMed Research International, Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 109275, 12 pages. http://dx.doi. org/10.1155/2015/109275.