Vitamin D, vitamin K and what I will refer to as “unsupervised supplementation”.
This post is primarily about the role of vitamin D and K. It is also about being mindful of what you are supplementing with, and the importance of seeking professional guidance when taking vitamins and herbal medicines.
Vitamins are classified as fat soluble (A, D, E & K) and water soluble (B-complex vitamins and Non-B- complex vitamins such as Vitamin C). Whether a vitamin is classified as ‘fat-soluble’ or ‘water-soluble’ is primarily related to how the vitamin is absorbed, stored and removed from the body.
~ Water-soluble vitamins are excreted easily via the urine, and although not impossible, it is less common to reach levels of toxicity.
~ Fat-soluble vitamins, are stored in adipose (fat) tissue and the liver, and can remain in the body from weeks to months.
My focus today is on fat soluble vitamins, which when dosed correctly, play an important role in keeping the body healthy and well, maintaining the immune system, muscle and heart function, optimal blood circulation and clotting factors, eye health and reproductive health. However, when taken in excess doses and in isolation, they can be dangerous.
Let’s chat about vitamin D and K.
Over the last few years, perhaps even the last decade, the media, countless blogs and research publications have stressed the dangers of vitamin D deficiency. In order to prevent deficiency, The Vitamin D Council recommends a dose of 5,000iu a day for the average adult. l am not discounting the significance of raising awareness and the fact that many of us are deficient. Deficiencies do need to be rectified, however it is important to note that the dosage will vary depending on the individual, their needs, any underlying health conditions and their blood (serum) vitamin D levels. Based on recent research it may also depend on vitamin K levels.
Although the research is still relatively new, and some may say inadequate, it is becoming more evident that vitamin D and K work synergistically and as a team.
One of the main functions of vitamin D is to maintain adequate calcium levels in the blood and it achieves this by improving calcium absorption (from food) and taking calcium from bone (if the blood supply is inadequate).
Vitamin D does not completely control where the calcium in your body ends up, so this is where vitamin K steps in.
Vitamin K regulates the calcium in your body in at least two ways. It promotes the accumulation of calcium in bones and teeth and by activating the matrix GLA protein, it prevents calcium from accumulating in soft tissues, such as the kidneys and blood vessels. Blood vessel calcification is implicated in the development of chronic diseases, particularly those related to the heart and kidney.
Unfortunately, over the last few months, a number of my patients have presented with toxic levels of vitamin D, insufficient vitamin K supplementation and abnormal blood calcium levels, which is what has urged me to write a post about it.
You rarely hear about toxicity, but excess formation of vitamin D metabolites can result in hypercalciuria (elevated calcium in the urine) and hypocalcemia (a reduction in blood calcium levels). Excessive vitamin D enhances the calcification of various tissues along with bones, which implies that hardening of the arteries can occur due to the calcification of blood vessels. Vitamin D can also cause anorexia (abnormal loss of appetite), muscular weakness, nausea, vomiting, central nervous system depression, nephrocalcinosis (deposition of calcium in the kidneys), nephrolithiasis (kidney stone formation or urinary calculi) and can create permanent kidney damage and so forth.”
So, my message is, please be mindful when supplementing. Discuss your supplementation regime and lab work with your primary care provider, functional medicine doctor or other health professional.
Wishing you wellness,