In our last article, we discussed the importance of micronutrients in unlocking our best health. From the total of six micronutrients discussed, three of them were directly connected with bone and heart health. And, while we briefly discussed how they helped these two systems, we did not explain how these distinct systems are actually very much intertwined.
People usually don’t associate heart and bone health, but these two systems share a few common denominators. Want to know one of the main ones?
As you likely learned from dairy commercials, calcium is crucial for strong bones. After all, this micronutrient is the primary raw material used to “build” our bone tissue.
Does this mean that we all should take as much calcium as we can? Not so fast.
While calcium is excellent for our bones, studies have shown that calcium supplementation is connected with cardiovascular disease and increased risk of mortality.
We understand this may be confusing for some since calcium also plays an important role in the electrical activity and pumping function of the heart. However, If you’ve read our last article, you probably already know why this association has been found. Once calcium is inside our system, it needs to be directed to our bones and teeth. If that signaling does not occur, calcium can accumulate in our vasculature and cause heart disease.
The macronutrient responsible for this signaling is vitamin K2.
People tend to think of vitamin K as an “isolated” vitamin. After all, it was only around the 1970’s that science allowed us to fully understand the different forms of vitamin K and how they interact with the body. But, vitamin K has multiple forms. The main ones are vitamin K1 and K2.
Vitamin K1 is the predominant form of vitamin K found in the human diet due to its abundant presence in many vegetables. However, less than 10% of the K1 present in plants is actually absorbed by our body. Additionally, the scientific community is still uncertain about how much K1 humans can actually convert into K2. This is important since K2 has been found to be a better “calcium signaler” than K1. Research shows that vitamin K2 is more efficient at reducing calcium deposits (outside of bones and teeth) and lowering our risk of heart disease.
Another tremendously important micronutrient in this relationship is magnesium. This mineral is involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. Including, regulating active calcium transport and bone metabolism. What’s the point of having a bunch of traffic officers (vitamin K2) if there are no cars transporting calcium on the streets? Or, if there aren’t construction workers to use that calcium and build bones? That’s where magnesium is essential. It ensures the active transportation of calcium and regulates its use in bone regeneration.
Finally, we have vitamin D. Considering that vitamin D’s active form is called calcitriol, you can easily understand that there is a direct relationship with calcium. Vitamin D regulates calcium absorption and helps regulate bone turnover. Additionally, studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may promote hypertension, cardiac hypertrophy, and atherosclerosis.
Can you see how important it is to ensure we have proper levels of these micronutrients in order to have strong bones and a healthy cardiovascular system?
We usually think heart disease and bone health are something we only have to consider later in life. However, do you know how many adults in their 20’s we see at BIOHAX that already have signs of osteopenia (early stage of osteoporosis)? It’s more frequent than you surely imagine.
Let’s consider something else. Why do some athletes break their legs while others suffer the same impacts and their legs don’t snap? The difference it’s their bone health. Weaker bones break more easily.
If the calcium is not in the bone, we need to be concerned about where it potentially is accumulating. All can start with a broken bone to later uncover heart disease.
That’s not the path any of us want to follow. So, it’s time to get some data.
Here at BIOHAX, we have a DEXA machine. Think of this machine as a big scanner that allows us not only to determine the health of our bones but also body fat and muscle mass. It’s commonly used to assess bone health but also for athletes and other healthy-minded individuals that want to accurately track their muscle and fat composition.
If after performing a DEXA scan we see signs of low bone density, we need to start thinking about the heart. Once again, if the calcium is not in the bones, it may be accumulating in the heart and vasculature. Something we definitely do not want. Our next step then is to do a CT Calcium Score so we can see how much of our bone calcium has been displaced to our cardiovascular system, and determine our heart health.
When all bone and heart health data is collected, we need to determine possible causes. The best place to start is always in the blood. Analyzing our biochemistry will let us determine the levels of the much-needed micronutrients discussed earlier, and also check our endocrine (aka hormonal) system.
Our hormones are essential in regulating our bone and heart health. You probably already heard about how women after menopause have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Estrogen naturally protects and defends bone strength. And, during menopause, estrogen levels plummet, which substantially increases the risk of losing bone density.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is also another hormone that has been linked to bone health. Low levels of this hormone and both men and women have been linked with lower bone density.
As you can imagine, there is a lot more to explore here. The main goal of this article was to explain how our heart and bones are directly connected. And, to show you how, by monitoring and adjusting our biochemistry, we can effectively increase our chances of preventing these issues from happening.
We are in control.
We just need to collect the data, assess it, and determine a plan of action.
Want more help in this process? We would love to assist you.
Marcos de Andrade MD, MBA
Chief Executive Officer