Are Your Arteries Turning into Bone?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

As we age, an interesting phenomenon happens: we lose bone mass, but our arteries turn into “bone-like tissues.”1

Yes, we are slightly exaggerating, but something similar to the process of bone formation does take place in aging arteries.

In diseased arteries, bone-making cells similar to osteoblasts, can literally be found in the lining of arterial walls.1,2

And as you can probably imagine, this is not a healthy process.

Below, we’ll explore how this process has been linked to arterial disease and osteoporosis. And please, make no bones about it — sorry, we had to throw that in there. ;-)

Leached Calcium Deposits onto Arterial Walls

Your blood keeps a steady supply of calcium, as slight deviations can actually lead to death. That’s why calcium is an essential mineral to your health.

Your bones act like a “mineral bank” that release calcium on an as-needed basis. When your body doesn’t obtain enough calcium from your diet, it gets it from your bones. And contrary to popular belief, calcium supplements do not cause heart disease.

Borrowing calcium from your bones seems convenient, but it can take a toll on your arteries in the long run. The calcium can deposit onto arterial walls (arterial calcification) and can lead to plaque build-up. Your bones don’t fare any better.

Stripping your bones of calcium can weaken their structural framework and lead to osteoporosis. This scenario seems like a no-win situation, but luckily it is preventable.

Are Vitamins D and K the Missing Link?

Research shows that people with low bone densities are more likely to have calcified arteries.3 They’re also more likely to have low vitamin D and K levels.4, 5, 6

Vitamins D and K keep your arteries clean and your bones healthy. Vitamin D inhibits arterial calcification by preventing abnormal changes in blood vessel walls.7 It’s also an important co-factor in bone mineralization.

On the other hand, vitamin K increases matrix Gla-protein, a protein that keeps calcium out of arterial walls8 and mineralizes bone.

Are you Getting Enough Vitamin K and D? Probably Not

If you’re counting on your diet to provide enough vitamin K, you’re probably falling short. The form found to keep your arteries healthy, vitamin K2, is rarely found in a typical Western diet. Vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods, such as soy natto.

Getting enough vitamin D through diet and sunlight is hard to come by as well, and unless you’re supplementing, you’re probably falling short. Make sure to take at least 5000 IU daily.

The Bottom Line

Healthy bones are essential to maintaining healthy arteries — and vice versa. Your bones are just as important as the rest of your body parts, but rarely are they given much thought. Perhaps it’s time to change that.

If you want to be healthy, you must take good care of them!

References:

  1. 1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Sep 30;100(20):11201-6.
  2. 2. FASEB J. 2002 Apr;16(6):577-82.
  3. 3. BMC Public Health. 2009;9:388.
  4. 4. J Diabetes Res. 2013;2013:243934.
  5. 5. Mayo Clin Proc. 2011 January; 86(1): 50–60.
  6. 6. Calcif Tissue Int. 1996 Nov;59(5):352-6.
  7. 7. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2007 Feb;18(1):41-6.
  8. 8. Crit Rev Eukaryot Gene Expr. 1998;8(3-4):357-75.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Recently, there was a new study suggesting higher intake of Vitamin D causes higher blood levels of the inflammation marker homocysteine.

Are the benefits of Vit D & K2 offset by an increased homocysteine level?

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - Can you show us the specific study you're referring to? We've seen research showing vitamin D helps to clear excess homocysteine. More info here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222742/

Thanks!

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