Why You Need to Take Vitamin K with Calcium Supplements

Posted by

A subgroup analysis of a study on 24,000 Europeans suggested increased risk of cardiovascular disease for those taking ONLY calcium supplements (1).

Let's dive into how you can protect yourself from hardened arteries from calcium supplements.

It is a well-established fact that when you take calcium you should also take magnesium. This is because magnesium helps your body keep the calcium you take out of your organs, thereby preventing calcification of arteries, kidneys, liver, and brain. Yet many people are magnesium deficient.

The USDA reports that 57% of Americans suffer from inadequate magnesium intake (2). If a person consistently takes high amounts of supplemental calcium WITHOUT magnesium they increase the risk of arterial blockages in their heart and brain.

Lack of calcium will cause bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis and fractures, and life ending hip replacements. Lack of calcium paradoxically can also cause calcification of arteries. In other words if you take too much OR no calcium you have higher chances of calcified arteries (3).

The solution to a healthy cardiovascular and skeletal health is to take calcium with magnesium and also supplement with vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Then after having you vitamin D levels tested, you may need a supplemental dose to meet your needs. (Testing serum vitamin D levels before taking vitamin D supplements is recommended. Taking too much vitamin D can be toxic.)

Vitamin K2 Reduces the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Sadly vitamin K has long been ignored. But it can be a real life saver since vitamin K is highly effective in keeping calcium out of arteries.

People with higher levels of vitamin K2 intake have a 57% REDUCTION in risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (4). People with blocked arteries and damaged heart valves show low vitamin K2 levels (5-8). Nonvertebral fractures are reduced by 81% in women that take vitamin K2.

How Vitamin K Maintains Bone Density AND Protect Your Arteries at the Same Time

Here is how it works in the arteries: Your arteries have calcium-regulating proteins, called matrix Gla protein, that, when turned on, block calcium from entering arterial cells. Sufficient amounts of vitamin K2 turn this protein on and block calcium from entering soft organ and artery tissues (9-13).

Unhealthy arteries kill more people in America than any other condition. The medical term for hardened artery is arteriosclerosis, a dangerous condition that leads to heart attack and stroke. A healthy artery is pliable like an inner tube. Its built-in muscle contracts to send blood through. A hardened artery loses its muscle tone and can't contract. Aging is the main cause of arteriosclerosis but lifestyle choices can accelerate the disease.

Here is how K2 strengthens bones: Your bones have a calcium dependent protein called osteocalcin that functions like studs in a house. This protein needs sufficient amounts of vitamin K2 in order to stay strong by holding on to calcium, preventing calcium from leaving bone and depositing into arteries (14, 15, 16-18).

Just like vitamin D was previously unrecognized for its benefits, vitamin K is now an under reported vitamin. Study after study finds how incredibly beneficial this vitamin is.

In addition to preventing arteriosclerosis and improving bone density, vitamin K also fights cancer and lowers your risk of diabetes.

Vitamin K has been found helpful in the fight against non-Hodgkin lymphoma, cancer of the liver, colon, stomach (19), prostate (20), nasopharynx, mouth, and lungs (21), as well as leukemia.

How to Optimize You Calcium Intake

It is generally understood that chelated forms of calcium, chief amongst them, calcium citrate, absorbs better. But what about magnesium? According to Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institute of Health, magnesium oxide bioavailability is 60% (22). With good research lacking, people thought magnesium citrate was better absorbed, however newer research indicates that magnesium oxide may be superior (23).

Understanding Supplement Labels
Read mineral supplement labels carefully. Look for how much elemental calcium is provided by the supplement, not the total amount of the raw calcium ingredient (calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, etc.). The elemental amount is the actual amount of useable calcium. The rest of the raw material may be either oxides or citrates, for example.

Taking Calcium and Magnesium in the Correct Ratio
When taking calcium it’s advisable to take a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. This ratio enables both minerals to be effective, according to Harvinder S. Sandhu, MD. If you suspect you are deficient in magnesium then take 1:1 ratio or even more magnesium.

The Best Time and the Right Way
Supplementing calcium in the evening appears better for osteoporosis prevention than taking calcium in the morning, based on the circadian rhythm of bone loss. Calcium also relaxes your muscles, an added bonus to get you ready for bed. However, dividing your calcium into at least two doses a day may increases efficiency.

High-fiber diets can interfere with calcium absorption, so try not to mix high fiber foods with calcium rich foods. If you do mix them, boost your calcium as you increase your fiber. Also avoid taking calcium supplements with iron and zinc.

Foods high in phosphorus (such as meat, poultry, corn, potatoes, beer, buckwheat) can also interfere with calcium absorption.

Calcium After Menopause
The presence of estrogen facilitates calcium absorption, so women who reach menopause are at increased risk of calcium deficiency and therefore need to increase their daily intake of calcium.

Be sure you're protecting your heart and you bones. Cardiovascular disease is still by far the leading cause of death. Heart disease is responsible for 1 of every 3 deaths in the US. And osteoporosis is a crippling disease killing 1,100 people per month after fracturing their hip. It’s not only deadly but also horribly painful.

It’s never too late to strengthen your body. Plan on a lifelong strategy of self-defense against those two killers.


1. Li K, Kaaks R, Linseisen J, Rohrmann S. Associations of dietary calcium intake and calcium supplementation with myocardial infarction and stroke risk and overall cardiovascular mortality in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study. Heart. 2012 Jun;98(12):920-5.

2. Available at:

3. Hsu HH, Culley NC. Effects of dietary calcium on atherosclerosis, aortic calcification, and icterus in rabbits fed a supplemental cholesterol diet. Lipids Health Dis. 2006 Jun 23;5:16. 

4. Geleijnse JM, Vermeer C, Grobbee DE, et al. Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study. J Nutr. 2004 Nov;134(11):3100-5.

5. Schurgers LJ, Spronk HM, Soute BA, Schiffers PM, DeMey JG, Vermeer C. Regression of warfarin-induced medial elastocalcinosis by high intake of vitamin K in rats. Blood. 2007 Apr 1;109(7):2823-31.

6. Howe AM, Webster WS. Warfarin exposure and calcification of the arterial system in the rat. Int J Exp Pathol. 2000 Feb;81(1):51-6.

7. Rennenberg RJ, de Leeuw PW, Kessels AG, et al. Calcium scores and matrix Gla protein levels: association with vitamin K status. Eur J Clin Invest. 2010 Apr;40(4):344-9.

8. Weijs B, Blaauw Y, Rennenberg RJ, et al. Patients using vitamin K antagonists show increased levels of coronary calcification: an observational study in low-risk atrial fibrillation patients. Eur Heart J. 2011 Oct;32(20):2555-62.

9. Cranenburg EC, Vermeer C, Koos R, et al. The circulating inactive form of matrix Gla protein (ucMGP) as a biomarker for cardiovascular calcification. J Vasc Res. 2008 45(5):427-36.

10. Schurgers LJ, Dissel PE, Spronk HM, et al. Role of vitamin K and vitamin K-dependent proteins in vascular calcification. Z Kardiol. 2001 90(Suppl):357-63.

11. Amizuka N, Li M, Guo Y, Liu Z, Suzuki R, Yamamoto T. Biological effects of vitamin K2 on bone quality. Clin Calcium. 2009 Dec;19(12):1788-96.

12. Spronk HM, et al, Matrix Gla protein accumulates at the border of regions of calcification and normal tissue in the media of the arterial vessel wall. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2001 Nov 30;289(2):485-90.

13. Chatrou ML, Reutelingsperger CP, Schurgers LJ. Role of vitamin K-dependent proteins in the arterial vessel wall. Hamostaseologie. 2011 Nov;31(4):251-7.

14. Howe AM, Webster WS. Warfarin exposure and calcification of the arterial system in the rat. Int J Exp Pathol. 2000 Feb;81(1):51-6.

15. Schurgers LJ, Dissel PE, Spronk HM, et al. Role of vitamin K and vitamin K-dependent proteins in vascular calcification. Z Kardiol. 2001 90(Suppl):357-63.

16. Luo G, Ducy P, McKee MD, et al. Spontaneous calcification of arteries and cartilage in mice lacking matrix GLA protein. Nature. 1997 Mar 6;386(6620):78-81.

17. Jie KG, Bots ML, Vermeer C, Witteman JC, Grobbee DE. Vitamin K status and bone mass in women with and without aortic atherosclerosis: a population-based study. Calcif Tissue Int. 1996 Nov;59(5):352-6.

18. Jie KS, Bots ML, Vermeer C, Witteman JC, Grobbee DE. Vitamin K intake and osteocalcin levels in women with and without aortic atherosclerosis: a population-based study. Atherosclerosis. 1995 Jul;116(1):117-23.

19. Available at:

20. Available at:

21. Available at:

22. Available at:

23. Michael Shechter, Tomer Saad, Alon Shechter, Nira Koren-Morag, Burton B. Silver, Shlomi Matetzky. Comparison of magnesium status using X-ray dispersion analysis following magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate treatment of healthy subjects. Volume 25, Number 1, March 2012

View Comments

7 Dietary Mistakes that Increase Kidney Stone Risk

Ever experienced some unexplained lower back ache? Perhaps you slept in a weird position. But did the low back ache coincide with a fever and chills or even abdominal pain and vomiting? Maybe you’ve got a touch of the flu or food poisoning. But if you’re also experiencing trouble urinating, you’ve just hit the telltale combination of symptoms that point to [...]

Read More »

10 Foods for Heart Health You Should Be Eating

This month we solute the heart. And all things heart-shaped on a particular day this month, if you’re into that sort of thing. But you really should be practicing heart-healthy habits every day, all year round. And what do we do every day? Eat. Usually multiple times a day. These days with the plethora of readily available foods at our fingertips, it’s [...]

Read More »

6 Essential Compounds Your Body Stops Making As You Age

Some regard age as nothing but a number. But the realists of the world are keeping track of the growing number of less than desirable side effects of aging. And this includes putting the brakes on certain compounds our bodies make – stuff we absolutely need. The internal machinery in all of us isn’t built to run full steam ahead [...]

Read More »

9 Supplements to Regulate Thyroid Function

When you think about the engine-like organ that keeps your body going, which organ comes to mind? You could consider the heart that constantly pumps life-giving blood throughout the body, transporting oxygen and vital nutrients. Or perhaps the brain, which is like the control tower at a busy airport, continuously sending and receiving messages to choreograph a multitude of functions. But did [...]

Read More »

The Best Time to Take Vitamins and Other Supplements

If you’re an avid supplement taker, you’ve probably wondered if there’s actually a better time of day to take your supplements. Should you take them as soon as you wake up in the morning? Is it better on an empty stomach or with food? What if you have no routine at all and you take your vitamins and other dietary supplements [...]

Read More »

How to Avoid the Winter Blues

Cold weather and shorter days are not for everyone. In fact some people are downright depressed about it. It’s not uncommon to feel down this time of year over stressful holidays or absent loved ones. This is what’s known as the “winter blues.” But some may experience more severe mood changes that last throughout the fall and winter. These more [...]

Read More »

Cold & Flu Prevention: How not to get it or spread it

It’s that time of the year again! The chilly weather, the holiday cheer, the coughing, the congestion, the full body ache . . . Yep. Cold and flu season is here! With the approaching holidays, many of us will be surrounded by others and their germs. Whether you’re amongst the thong of strangers doing the holiday shopping or being generous [...]

Read More »

Dangerous Beauty: The Chemical Evils in Personal Care Products

The year is swiftly coming to an end and the time to set the ubiquitous New Year’s Resolution is upon us!But why not think about it as a chance to make a permanent change? A simple tweak in your daily routine that is beneficial to your health. How about you make a commitment to eliminating the harmful and [...]

Read More »

Can Your Sweet Tooth Be a Precursor to Alzheimer’s?

Be honest. Did you overdo it on the Halloween candy?If you’ve got a sweet tooth like me, Halloween seems to signify the start of the eating season heightened by sweets in all forms – candy, baked goods, sweetened hot and cold drinks, even glazed meats and candied yams (way to kill the nutritional goodness of an otherwise healthy vegetable). [...]

Read More »