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Thrombosis, blood clotting and vitamin K
In the past month we've heard about a startling effect of vaccins on some people's immune system: a spontanous auto-immune reaction towards someone's own blood platelets causing both internal bleeding and thrombosis.
Not your average thrombosis, but in weird places too.
Since thrombosis relates to excessive blood clotting and vitamin K is involved in blood coagulation process, it reminded us of a remark made by one of our faithful customers, who's afraid to ingest vitamin K2 for fear of interference with anticoagulants.
It's about time to find out more about thrombosis, vitamin K2 and its relation with anticoagulants.
What is thrombosis and who is at risk?
Thrombosis is when a blood clot forms within a blood vessel and prevents the proper flow of blood around the circulatory system. This can have serious medical consequences, including death. However, thrombosis can be prevented and treated in time if it is identified.
If a healthy person is injured, their body should act to heal the injury as quickly as possible. Blood clots naturally form from platelets and fibrin at the site of an injury to help to prevent blood loss. However, if a blood clot forms within a blood vessel or the clot becomes larger than it needs to, the clot can completely block the blood vessel. This hampers the natural circulation of blood around the body. In some case, the blood clots may break away from their original site and travel to another part of the body. In these cases, the person may have an embolism.
If the blood clot travels into your lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism by completely blocking one of the blood vessels of the lungs. This can cause oxygen deficiencies in other areas of the body. A tiny clot can enter the lungs without causing any trouble, but a larger clot can be fatal. If a clot enters the brain, a patient may have a stroke.
Signs of thrombsis
Thromboses do not always present symptoms. If symptoms do present themselves, then they can depend on where the clot lies within the body. A blood clot in the leg or lung can cause pain, swelling or tenderness in one leg, usually in the calf area.
A red patch may appear on the leg or the skin may feel warmer than normally in the affected area. Some people experience a sensation which can be described as a heavy aching feeling in the area where the blood clot is. If you experience unexplained symptoms like these, then you are advised to visit your doctor for further advice.
Signs of a pulmonary embolism include; shortness of breath, rapid breathing, coughing, coughing up blood and chest pains. Patients may notice a slower or faster heart rate than normal. Severe cases may present themselves as a blue discolouration of the lips or extremities and sudden collapse.
Major causes of blood clots
Thrombosis may be caused by injuries to cells in the blood vessels. These injuries can be caused by physical trauma, but injuries can also be caused by bacterial infections which affect the walls of the blood vessels.
Some of the major causes of thrombosis include; a sedentary lifestyle, long periods with little movement (including being on an airplane), constriction of a blood vessel, dehydration, heart failure, obesity, pregnancy, long surgeries, cancer, and various types of medications.
Estrogen-based oral contraceptive pills slightly increase the risk of suffering from thrombosis, although many women feel that the benefits outweigh the risks. If medication is likely to increase the risk of patients suffering from a thrombosis, they should be given explicit warning and advised to look out for the signs.
Treatments for thrombosis
In order to treat an existing thrombosis, doctors normally prescribe an anticoagulant to try to safely dissolve the clot. Heparin and warfarin are common anticoagulants. Patients who are on anticoagulant drugs need to be monitored regularly to make sure that their blood does not completely lose its clotting ability.
Lifestyle changes and dietary changes may also be suggested to people who have lifestyles which put them at risk of suffering from thrombosis. Most long-haul flights now offer passengers advice and simple exercises to help them to stay mobile even though they are in a confined space.
Blood thinners or anticoagulants ?
Blood thinners are medications or supplements that help blood flow smoothly. They don’t thin your blood or break up clots. They just decrease the risk of clots by slowing the clotting mechanism.
There are 2 types of blood thinners: anticoagulants and antiplatelets.
Anticoagulants keep your blood from clotting. Two well known anticoagulants are warfarin and heparin. Heparin is the type which has been in the news lately because of the special type of auto-immune response after vaccination, since the response is almost identical to what happens when people are allergic for heparin.
A vitamin K antagonist (VKA) is a special blood thinner. VKAs prevent blood clots by decreasing the action of vitamin K.
Among VKAs, coumarins are the most commonly used. And among coumarins, warfarin is the most popular one.
The interfering action, however, goes both ways. VKA depletes the action of vitamin K. On the other hand, vitamin K also interferes with the blood-thinning action of VKAs.
Antiplatelet medicins target tiny particles in the blood called platelets. The best known and most often administered antiplatelet medicin is (baby) aspirin.
Why do people take blood thinners?
Blood thinners help with many conditions where blood clots are a risk. Here are examples of conditions that may require a person to take a blood thinner:
- after a heart attack, a stroke, a stent, bypass, and other recent surgical procedures, placement of artificial heart valves
- to decrease stroke risk with atrial fibrillation to treat heart arrhythmia.
- some inflammatory diseases, such as lupus
Why you should avoid using VKA-anticoagulants such as warfarin
Vitamin K is an important antioxidant nutrient well known for its important assistance in clotting blood. It is also the target of the commonly overly prescribed VKA-anticoagulants such as warfarin, adding to society wide problems of vitamin K deficiency.
Ironically, such deficiency causes hardening of the arteries via increased calcification of arterial walls. Importantly, the lack of vitamin K is a major factor in poor bone health and new science shows it is also important for blood sugar regulation.
Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) in your diet comes primarily from green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is naturally produced by bacteria in your large intestine. Its highest dietary source is cheese (also in milk, yogurt, eggs, and beef).
Typical dietary intake is 90 percent K1 and 10 percent K2 (with additional intestinal production of K2). While both forms of vitamin K are important, it does appear that vitamin K2 has a longer half-life in your blood, thus potentially providing enhanced vitamin K status.
Vitamin K1 and K2 act to modify a number of proteins so that they become biologically active.
In an attempt to reduce the theoretical risk of stroke in an ever-expanding list of potential target patients, warfarin is given, which directly blocks the activity of vitamin K everywhere in the body. It also disrupts the vital antioxidant function of vitamin K1.
This sledgehammer approach disrupts normal blood clotting, resulting in warfarin causing bleeding and increased risk for strokes.
Blocking vitamin K activity on blood clotting cells does not address the source of a “sticky blood” problem.
Rather it ignores the source of the problem, while seeking to block the last step of the problem.
Even more ironic, new science shows that sticky blood may be a protective adaptation to excessive plaque – while warfarin may actually produce smaller plaques that are more harmful and pose more risk to health.
Furthermore, relatively little vitamin K is needed for clotting enzymes to function. There are only so many receptors for vitamin K on these clotting cells. Once they are loaded with vitamin K they have the potential to clot. In health, that means clot when needed.
In inflammatory disease states, that means clot unpredictably with the potential for stroke. However, there is no such thing as higher levels of vitamin K intake promoting excessive clotting. To the contrary, higher levels of vitamin K intake are highly protective of cardiovascular health.
In comparison to the relatively small amount of vitamin K needed for clotting, a far larger amount is needed for bone health and other healthy vitamin K functions.
New science shows that your liver prioritizes which of the 16 vitamin K proteins will receive the available vitamin K first. As it turns out, it feeds the five clotting proteins first. This means that using enough warfarin to suppress vitamin K clotting activity causes a significant shortage of vitamin K for other healthy functions. It is also now known that adequate vitamin K is needed to protect your liver against inflammation.
In an older study a comparison was made between elderly patients who were taking warfarin and those who weren’t.
The study showed an alarming 25 percent increased rate of fracture with a very high rate of consequent mortality.
Other information clearly shows that both vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 increase bone strength and reduce the risk of fractures.
It is proven in hip fracture patients that they have low levels of vitamin D, vitamin K1, and vitamin K2.
Vitamin K works in harmony with the bone building cells called osteoblasts. These cells produce a protein called osteocalcin. To become biologically active osteocalcin must be carboxylated by vitamin K. Once this happens then osteocalcin can “glue” calcium into its correct three dimensional structure within the bone tissue matrix.
Without adequate vitamin K calcium cannot be properly attached to bone. There is no way around this important step in bone formation. This means that vitamin K adequacy is needed for bone strength. People with a high vitamin K dietary intake have a much lower risk of hip fracture.
Cardiovascular health, diabetes & cancer prevention
Matrix GLA Protein is another key protein in your body that must be activated by vitamin K. This is the protein in your circulation that prevents calcium from accumulating in your arteries and hardening them. When there is a dietary deficiency or a warfarin induced deficiency of vitamin K activity then the inactive form of this matrix protein builds up in your blood and calcification of your arteries begins to occur. This is highly predictive of cardiovascular disease risk.
A high dietary intake of vitamin K2 (menaquinone), but not vitamin K1, reduced the rate of mortality from coronary artery disease. In fact, the level of vitamin K2 was inversely related to the risk of death from any cause. The authors concluded that vitamin K2 “could be important for coronary heart disease prevention.” Scientists are now sounding alarm bells on the fact that warfarin causes calcification of arteries and heart valves.
Biologically active osteocalcin not only acts to build bone but also acts as a hormone that travels to fat and boosts the production of the blood sugar regulating hormone known as adiponectin.
Among Dutch citizens, vitamin K2 intake had a statistically significant inverse relationship to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Vitamin K1 intake also trended in the preventive direction, though the benefit was not enough to be statistically significant. It will only be a matter of time before research shows that disrupting osteocalcin activity with warfarin either causes type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome or makes it worse.
Vitamin K2, but not vitamin K1 appears to be inversely associated with the risk of cancer and cancer mortality.
The benefit of vitamin K2 was greatest for men, with a notable reduction in prostate and lung cancer. The researchers concluded that the “intake of menaquinones, which is highly determined by the consumption of cheese, is associated with a reduced risk of incident and fatal cancer.”
Warfarin disables a cell’s vitamin K activity in the fat-soluble antioxidant network, which by definition exposes cells to higher amounts of free radical damage and potential mutation.
A new study evaluated warfarin use in men showing up with prostate cancer.
Two years or less of warfarin use did not pose a problem in terms of prostate cancer severity. However, men taking warfarin for four or more years had a 220% increased risk of having advanced prostate cancer. This finding is consistent with having long-term depletion of antioxidants.
Collectively all these studies show that vitamin K2 is a potent health boosting nutrient. Its primary function is to make various key proteins biologically active so that they can perform bone building, enhance cardiovascular fitness, improve blood sugar metabolism, carry on normal blood clotting, and help protect against cancer.
That is quite an array of powerful functions to attribute to one nutrient. Sadly, the biological activity of this important nutrient is routinely blocked by the ridiculous and paranoid overuse of warfarin, a testament to the lack of understanding of the medical profession on how to actually improve cardiovascular health.