Natural and scientific ways to help your arteries
For those of you like me who have a direct or indirect interest in understanding the REAL truth behind statins, cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases, here is a curious result from a research team in Japan (already dating 1 and a half year, I’m afraid) that revolutionizes the story: statins, usually taken to lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, would be a cause of arterial calcification and formation of arteriosclerosis, the anteroom to heart attack.
First a few focal points in this matter:
calcium and arterial plaque are strongly correlated. Calcium is one of the major factors of arterial calcification and is considered a marker of narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Indeed, scanning calcium deposit is a method to examine the condition of heart arteries and their narrowing in people at risk.
Correlated to this fact, one should know that vitamin K2 is critical in preventing calcification of arteries by inhibiting excess loss of calcium from bones (helping Ca getting fixed in the skeleton).
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential component of the ‘respiratory chain’ in the mitochondria, i.e. the chain of reactions that produce energy (our only energy factory) necessary for any muscular work (including the incessant heart and arterial muscular work).
Selenium is an essential mineral in the production of selenium proteins, like the vital glutathione peroxidase, a major protector from free radicals.
Now that we have these pieces of a puzzle, we can move onto the sad news about statins.
We all know that people at risk of cardiovascular disease, i.e. obese or with high total blood cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol, or simply, as it is with the new guidelines, over 60, are put on statins. However, statins do not lower calcification of the arteries , as one would expect for lowering risk of cardiac failure, but instead they increase it. To make things worse in terms of calcification of arterial walls: in people with history of blot clots or high risk of cardiovascular diseases, statins are often prescribed along with blood thinners. Such blood thinners, like warfarin and coumadin, work by blocking the production of vitamin K2 since this vitamin is not only necessary for skeleton mineralization but also for blood clotting (which is the opposite of blood thinning). As a consequence, the side effect of warfarin is arterial calcification due to the accumulation of Ca other than in the bones caused by the lack of vit K2. As a confirmation of the effect of increase of Ca in the blood vessels for lack of vitamin K, irreversible calcification of breasts arteries are also observed in women who use warfarin. When people at low risk of atrial fibrillation are given blood thinners, their level of calcification in the coronary arteries is increased. Thus the benefit offered by blood thinners is offset by this secondary (not minor!) effect.
Coming back to statins..... the way they reduce the synthesis of cholesterol is by blocking metabolic pathways that unfortunately also inhibit the production of coenzyme Q10 essential for muscle energy. Statins thus act as “mitochondrial toxins” impairing the functions of muscles of the heart and the arteries.
Finally, statins also lowers the production of selenium-proteins and their derived natural antioxidants, worsening the formation of the plaque, which start as a process of oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
Thus the depletion of vitamin K2, CoQ10 and selenium due to the use of statins would promote cardiovascular disease that statins are supposed to curb people from. As the authors of this recent paper, appeared in February 2015 on the Experimental Review of Clinical Pharmacology, put it: “the epidemic of heart failure and atherosclerosis that plagues the modern world may paradoxically be aggravated by the pervasive use of statin drugs’.
If the use of statins is unavoidable, it is at least recommended to supplement the body with CoQ10, vitamin K2 and selenium, whose production is impaired by such drugs.
As an addition to natural support to arterial inflammation and narrowing, one should also consider vitamin D.
What? Are we coming back to bones?
No. Vitamin D has a very long list if uses in the body, other than helping calcium absorption: it intervenes in regulation of the immune system, prevention of cancer, brain development, improvement of arterial compliance (ability to contract and relax of the arterial walls), contrasts inflammation and atherogenesis, indirectly lowers LDL and VLDL cholesterol and increases HDL, and is essential in muscle metabolism. People who use statins, often suffer of muscular pain and soreness. A study showed that this effect disappears when people are supplemented with vitamin D.
In summary, if you are using statins, you might want to consider supplementing with CoQ10, vitamin K2, selenium and vitamin D.
Okuyama H1, Langsjoen PH, Hamazaki T, Ogushi Y, Hama R, Kobayashi T, Uchino H. 2015 Statins stimulate atherosclerosis and heart failure: pharmacological mechanisms. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2015 Mar;8(2):189-99. doi: 10.1586/17512433.2015.1011125. Epub 2015 Feb 6.
Smith A. 2015. Statins Deplete Vitamin K2, May Promote Coronary Calcification, at SilliconValley Fit, http://www.siliconvalleyfit.com/blog/bid/363136/Statins-Deplete-Vitamin-K2-May-Promote-Coronary-Calcification
Khaynikov M et al. 2015. Intolerance because of myalgia, myositis, myopathy, or myonecrosis can in most cases be safely resolved by vitamin d supplementation. North Am J Med Sci; 7:86-93
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Mercola, 2015 Vitamin K1 and K2—Two Underappreciated Nutrients That Are Crucial for Health, in Mercola.com, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/01/11/vitamin-k1-k2.aspx
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1998 Vitamin K2 May Lower Serum Cholesterol, AJN, American Journal of Nursing: Volume 98 - Issue 6 - p 54