Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of disability and death in the developed world. While many factors are involved in its initiation and progression, I'll highlight one. Homocysteine can damage the inner arterial lining called the endothelium when present in high concentrations. Homocysteine is an abnormal protein that is created when a specific amino acid called methionine is metabolized. In most people homocysteine is quickly cleared out of the arteries and therefore does not create a problem. Studies have shown that high levels of homocysteine are caused by a lack of nutrients in the diet, particularly the B group of vitamins. Without these essential vitamins your body is unable to produce the enzymes necessary to remove homocysteine efficiently from your blood.
To repair the damage, the endothelium produces collagen that forms a "cap" over the injuried artery site. These collagen caps attract calcium that eventually accumulates (calcified) and forms a hard material similar to bone (aka "hardening of the arteries"). Calcification of the arteries is a significant risk factor for heart attacks. Vitamin K keeps calcium in your bones and can prevent buildup in the arteries. Studies show that an insufficient level of vitamin K accelerates arterial calcification.
Here what researchers in a recent issue of Blood medical journal stated: "In the last 10 years we have learned that Vitamin K-dependent proteins are directly involved in the inhibition of vascular calcification, and that Vitamin K2 is necessary to activate these proteins. This study demonstrates a significant potential role for Vitamin K2 in cardiovascular health. High-vitamin K intake (both K1 and K2) not only blocked the progress of further calcium accumulation but also lead to a greater than 37 per cent reduction of previously accumulated arterial calcium precipitates within six weeks."
It has been previously shown in the Journal of Nutrition click here that high Vitamin K2 consumption was linked to lower coronary heart disease, less aortic calcification and lower all cause mortality. In this study, 4,800 elderly subjects with no history of heart disease were followed for 10 years, and it was found that 45 micrograms/day of natural vitamin K2 resulted in 50% decreased arterial calcification and a similarly decreased cardiovascular mortality risk.