Colostrum is the highly nutritious ‘first milk’ produced by the mother for the new-born in its first few days of life. Colostrum contains many different nutrients including proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes as well as important immune factors and immunoglobulins (also known as antibodies). These antibodies are made by the mother’s immune cells and are passed to the new-born in the Colostrum providing critical protection from bacterial and viral infections while the baby’s own immune system is in an immature state.
The three main types of immunoglobulin are IgG, IgA and IgM and each plays a specific role in the immune response and defending the body against infection. IgG antibodies are the most predominant and circulate in the bloodstream and other body fluids primed to bind to and inactivate disease-causing antigens as they are encountered.
Taking a Colostrum supplement can help boost your immunoglobulin levels and strengthen your immune system. Colostrum contains immune factors that keep the immune response in balance and also immune proteins called PRPs (proline rich polypeptides) that fine-tune the way the white blood cells respond to antigens such as viruses and bacteria.
Why Vitamin K2 and D3?
What is vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a name given to a group of fat-soluble vitamins. There are two main types of vitamin K: K1 and K2. They are considered essential “helper” molecules for the production of a variety of proteins needed for reactions like blood clotting, calcium regulation and heart health.
How is vitamin K1 different than vitamin K2?
Vitamin K was discovered in the early 1930’s and documented in a German scientific journal for its role in “koagulation” (coagulation, or blood clotting), giving it its signature vitamin “K” name.
Since then, all of the attention for K has been predominantly on its purpose for blood clotting. Although both forms (K1 and K2) were discovered at the same time, it was thought that they simply had structural differences. Until recently, it wasn’t known that K2 had a separate and distinct function in health than K1 (blood clotting).
K2 has been found to play a vital role in maintaining healthy arteries and bones by keeping calcium in bones and teeth and out of arteries.
Research has shown that K1 is functionally very different than K2 and some scientists feel they should be classified as separate nutrients all together.
While a K1 deficiency is rare, a K2 deficiency is much more likely. Deficiency of K2 has been linked with arterial calcification and osteoporosis. It has long been known that individuals with a lack of calcium in their bones are more likely to have an excess of calcium in their arteries. In fact, the calcium deposits in arteries are more similar to bone and could be thought of bone formation within blood vessels.
Osteoporosis and heart disease may seem unrelatable at first, yet there are several key regulators of bone tissue which are also present in atherosclerotic plaque such as matrix GLA-protein (MGP) and osteocalcin, both of which can be influenced by K2 (Source).
K2 activates MGP protein. MGP is a K2-dependent protein expressed in vascular tissue and is a major inhibitor of vascular calcification. Vitamin K2-activated MGP is considered the most potent factor for preventing and reversing the arterial calcification involved in atherosclerosis. Vascular calcification is a major risk factor for heart disease and heart attacks. Less calcium in arterial walls means arteries are structurally healthy and have better blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body.
A genetic MGP deficiency in humans is known as Keutel Syndrome. This is a rare genetic disease that results in severe cartilage calcifications along with artery stenosis (blockages), highlighting the major importance of K2 for preventing calcification.
What foods contain vitamin K1 and K2?
K1, or phylloquinone, is predominantly found in leafy green plant foods.
K2, or menaquinone, is found in animal food and fermented foods. Almost all subgroups, with the exception of MK4, can also be made in your gut. The large bowel contains substantial amounts of long-chain menaquinones.
Vitamin K2, can further be divided into subgroups. The two main forms of K2 for health are MK4 and MK7. Animal foods contain the MK4 form while fermented foods like sauerkraut and natto contain the longer chain K2 forms like MK7, etc.
Heart-health benefits of K2:
Prevents calcification of arteries
Vitamin K2 inhibits vascular calcification by activating the important matrix GLa proteins, which can prevent calcium buildup in atherosclerotic plaque (Source). Higher K2, not K1, is associated with reduced arterial calcification (Source).
Inhibits soft tissue calcification
K2 can successfully prevent soft tissue calcification. Soft tissue calcification is the irregular accumulation of calcium salts in soft tissue including arteries, cartilage and heart valves.
Reverses aortic calcification
In Warfarin-treated rats, it has been found that vitamin K2 can reverse aortic calcification and improve arterial elasticity (Source). Warfarin, a conventionally prescribed blood thinner medication, works by blocking vitamin K dependent clotting factors to “thin” the blood. A side effect of chronic warfarin therapy is an increased risk for rapid arterial calcification and cardiovascular morbidity.
The Rotterdam Study followed 4,807 subjects for 9-10 years and found that the highest intake of vitamin K2 was associated with the lowest risk of severe aortic calcification, cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular morbidity (Source). Interestingly, vitamin K1 had no association with cardiovascular risks.
Lowers risk of heart disease
The Prospect-EPIC cohort study followed women for 8 years and found that there was an inverse association between vitamin K2 intake and risk of coronary heart disease. The higher the intake of K2, the lower the risk of cardiovascular events (Source).
Increased cardiac output
A clinical trial gave healthy, active participants 150-300 mg of a K2 supplement for eight weeks. The results showed that K2 supplementation resulted in a significant 12% increase in cardiac output (Source).
What is vitamin D?
The recommended form of vitamin D is vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol. This is the natural form of vitamin D that your body makes from sunlight.
Recent studies have suggested that a substantial percentage of the global population is vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D plays the following vital functions in your body:
• Maintain the health of bones and teeth.
• Support the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system.
• Regulate insulin levels and aid diabetes management.
• Support lung function and cardiovascular health.
• Influence the expression of genes involved in cancer development.
• Vitamin D is vital for allowing the body to absorb calcium.
• Vitamin D supports serum calcium levels in your body. In other words, vitamin D is important for ensuring sufficient calcium in the blood and tissues.
• Vitamin D is crucial for bone growth and remodelling, and inadequate vitamin D results in brittle bones.
• Vitamin D plays an important role in supporting the immune function, which protects the body from harm.
• Vitamin D is important for regulating the genes that control cell growth, replication, and apoptosis or programmed cell death. Vitamin D plays a role in preventing or reducing your risk of developing cancer.
• Cells that have vitamin D receptors are reliant on vitamin D for healthy cellular function.
Health benefits of vitamin D
This section looks at the potential health benefits of vitamin D, from assisting good bone health to possible cancer prevention.
1) Vitamin D for healthy bones
Vitamin D plays a substantial role in the regulation of calcium and maintenance of phosphorus levels in the blood, two factors that are extremely important for maintaining healthy bones.
We need vitamin D to absorb calcium in the intestines and to reclaim calcium that would otherwise be excreted through the kidneys.
Vitamin D deficiency in children can cause rickets, a disease characterized by a severely bow-legged appearance due to softening of the bones.
In adults, vitamin D deficiency manifests as osteomalacia (softening of the bones) or osteoporosis. Osteomalacia results in poor bone density and muscular weakness. Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease among post-menopausal women and older men.
2) Reduced risk of flu
Children given 1,200 International Units of vitamin D per day for 4 months during the winter reduced their risk of influenza A infection by over 40 percent.
3) Reduced risk of diabetes
Several observational studies have shown an inverse relationship between blood concentrations of vitamin D in the body and risk of type 2 diabetes. In people with type 2 diabetes, insufficient vitamin D levels may negatively effect insulin secretion and glucose tolerance. In one particular study, infants who received 2,000 International Units per day of vitamin D had an 88 percent lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes by the age of 32.
4) Healthy infants
Children with normal blood pressure who were given 2,000 International Units (IU) per day had significantly lower arterial wall stiffness after 16 weeks compared with children who were given only 400 IU per day.
Low vitamin D status has also been associated with a higher risk and severity of atopic childhood diseases and allergic diseases, including asthma, atopic dermatitis, and eczema. Vitamin D may enhance the anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids, making it potentially useful as a supportive therapy for people with steroid-resistant asthma.
5) Healthy pregnancy
Pregnant women who are deficient in vitamin D seem to be at greater risk of developing preeclampsia and needing a cesarean section. Poor vitamin D status is associated with gestational diabetes mellitus and bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women. It is also important to note that high vitamin D levels during pregnancy were associated with an increased risk of food allergy in the child during the first 2 years of life.
Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma severity, and swine flu, however more reliable studies are needed before these associations can be proven. Many of these benefits occur through Vitamin D’s positive effect on the immune system
The Synergistic Relationship between Vitamin K2 and Vitamin D3
Vitamin K2 supports vitamin D and calcium in the body, and it is vital to ensure you get sufficient vitamin K2 to support these vitamins; but do you need to consider vitamin K2 supplementation, and how much vitamin K2 do you really need?
Since vitamin K2 is essential for the efficient function of calcium and vitamin D, the amount you need depends on your particular levels of these minerals and vitamins. If you are taking a calcium supplement, or if you are taking a vitamin D supplement, then you most likely need to increase your intake of vitamin K2.
You should consult your physician about any supplements you are taking, but here are some symptoms or conditions that indicate you may need to increase your vitamin K2:
Osteoporosis – If you suffer from osteoporosis, then you may need to increase your levels of vitamin K2.
Diabetes – If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, then you should investigate whether you need to increase your intake of vitamin K2.
Heart disease – If you have been diagnosed with heart disease or increased risks for this condition, then you may need to increase your consumption of vitamin K2.
Vitamins Seldom Function in Isolation
The most important aspect to consider is the fact that there are few, if any, vitamins that function in isolation. Magnesium relies on calcium, and calcium relies on magnesium for supporting its function. You need vitamin D to absorb calcium. You need vitamin K2 to facilitate the functions of vitamin D and calcium.
You also often require these vitamins and minerals in specific ratios in order to use them effectively.
When good manufacturers and chemists formulate supplements, they normally consider synergistic compounds to ensure that their supplement provides you with the correct ratios of the different minerals and vitamins needed for health.
The Wise Nutrition – High Calcium Colostrum Plus K2 and D3 is formulated to contain vitamin K2, vitamin D3, and calcium to supply you with the minerals that are vital for supporting skeletal health.