Health Benefits of Vitamin K
To understand how vitamin K helps fight disease, see:
According to vitamin K researcher Professor Cees Vermeer:
"The only mechanism for arteries to protect themselves from calcification is via the vitamin K-dependent protein MGP. MPG is the most powerful inhibitor of soft tissue calcification presently known, but non-supplemented healthy adults are desufficient in vitamin K to a level that 30 per cent of their MGP is synthesized in an inactive form. So, protection against cardiovascular calcification is only 70% in the young, healthy population, and this figure decreases at increasing age."
Vitamin K and vitamin D increase MGP, which protects blood vessels from calcification - In healthy arteries, MGP functions as a powerful inhibitor of calcification in arteries (and cartilage). MGP congregates around the elastic fibers of the tunica media (arterial lining), guarding them against calcium crystal formation. Optimal vitamin K levels are needed to produce proper amounts of MGP to prevent arterial calcification
Shearer Role of vitamin K and Gla proteins in the pathophysiology of osteoporosis and vascular calcification. MJ.Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2000 Nov;3(6):433-8
Dhore CR, Cleutjens JP, Lutgens E, et. al. Differential expression of bone matrix regulatory proteins in human atherosclerotic plaques. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2001 Dec;21(12):1998-2003
-Even a diet rich in leafy greens supplies less than half the vitamin K needed for its calcium-regulating activities.
Cranenburg EC, Schurgers LJ. Thromb Haemost. 2007 Jul;98(1):120-5.
Evidence for K2 rather than K1 for heart benefits
-People who consume 45 mcg of K2 daily live seven years longer than people getting 12 mcg per day - In the 2004 Rotterdam study, those in the highest third of vitamin K2 intakes were 52% less likely to develop severe calcification of the arteries, 41% less likely to develop heart disease, and 57% less likely to die from it than people with the lowest intake of vitamin K2.
Geleijnse JM, Vermeer C, Grobbee DE, Schurgers LJ, Knapen MHJ, van der Meer IM, Hofman A and Witteman JCM. “Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: The Rotterdam Study”November 2004; J Nutr 134:3100-3105
✔ Researchers also found that each additional 10 mcg of vitamin K2 in the diet resulted in 9% fewer cardiac events
✔K2 found to reduce incidence of heart attack - in 2009, a Dutch dietary study further analyzed data from the EPIC-Prospect study. Note that NO relationship was found between K1 intake and heart attack incidence, suggesting poor bodily conversion of K1 to K2 (all women were over 49 yrs old, which could be a relevant factor) .
-Vitamin K2, but not K1 has been reported to decrease serum cholesterol and cholesterol-ester deposition in the aorta - contributing to the suppression of atherosclerotic plaque progression.
Graul, A., CastaÃ±er, J., 1996. Menatetrenone: Treatment for osteoporosis. Drugs Future 21(6), 615-620.
Spronk, H.M., Soute, B.A., Schurgers, L.J., Thijssen, H.H., De Mey, J.G., Vermeer, C., 2003. Tissue-specific utilization of menaquinone-4 results in the prevention of arterial calcification in warfarin-treated rats. J. Vasc. Res. 40(6), 531-537.
-Animal studies - show that vitamin K2 not only prevents hardening of the arteries but can actually reverse calcification of highly calcified arteries, by activating MGP.
-People with severe calcifications have high percentages of inactive OSTEOCALCIN - which indicates a general deficiency of vitamin K2.
Taking Calcium to prevent osteoporosis WITHOUT vitamin K increases risk of heart attack by an average 149% whilst decreasing risk of fracture by only 12% - According to 2008 randomized, controlled research published in British Medical
-1471 postmenopausal women taking calcium supplements also increased their risk of stroke an average of 142% and sudden death 137%
-An editorial accompanying the study entitled “Cardiovascular risks of calcium supplements in women - Increased risk of myocardial infarction outweighs the reduction in fractures” points out:
"Under certain stimuli, vascular smooth muscle cells may undergo a phenotypic switch to bone-like cells, and in the presence of high amounts of calcium these may be capable of producing vascular calcification." Jones G, Winzenberg T. BMJ. 2008 Feb 2;336(7638):226-7.
A footnote refers to the “certain stimuli”as lack of sufficient vitamin K2, which can cause the cells lining blood vessel walls to absorb calcium, like bone cells.
The long and short - Don't take calcium supplements without concurrent intake of vitamin K1 (from eating such dark green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, although older people seem to have a poor conversion of K1 to K2) and a K2 supplement -also, taking vitamin D increases calcium absorption making vitamin K even more necessary
K1 with vitamin D / High-dose K2 can not only increase bone mineral density in those with osteoporosis but also reduce fracture rates - according to human intervention studies. Emerging evidence also supports that low dose K1 when combined with vitamin D may also benefit bone health. Proposed K mechanisms are:
-Vitamin K's role in activation (carboxylation) of OSTEOCALCIN -a hormone involved in bone mineralization
-Vitamin K positively affects calcium balance -suggests increasing evidence; calcium is a key mineral in bone metabolism.
Weber P. Vitamin K and bone health. Nutrition. 2001 Oct;17(10):880-7.
-Japanese trials showed that vitamin K2 completely reverses bone loss - and in some cases even increases bone density in people with osteoporosis.
Vermeer C, Shearer M J, Zitterman A, Bolton-Smith C, Szulc P, Hodges S, Walter P, Rambeck W, Stocklin E, Weber P. “Beyond deficiency: Potential benefits of increased intakes of vitamin K for bone and vascular health” Eur J Nutr. December 2004;43(6):325-335
-Seven pooled Japanese trials show that vitamin K2 supplementation produces a 60% reduction in vertebral fractures and an 80% reduction in hip and other non-vertebral fractures
Cockayne S, Adamson J, Lanham-New S, Shearer MJ, Gilbody S, Torgerson DJ. “Vitamin K and the prevention of fractures: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” Arch Intern Med. 2006; 166: 1256-1261
Cancer - K2, but not K1, reduces cancer risk
In the Prospect EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) study, 16,057 women (aged 49-70) were followed for an average of 8.1 years
-It was found that a high intake of vitamin K2, but not K1, leads to reduced cancer risk - and a 30% lower risk of dying from cancer
Daniells S. “Vitamin D may reduce cancer risk: EPIC study”Nutraingredients.com(March 30, 2010)
Nimptsch K, Rohrmann S, Kaaks R, and Linseisen J. “Dietary vitamin K intake in relation to cancer incidence and mortality: Results from the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg)”Am J Clin Nutr (March 24, 2010)
Leukemia / MDS -study data suggests that vitamin K2+ vitamin D3 may be an effective combination for differentiation-based therapy for leukemia and MDS
New research shows that K2-dependently-activated MGP is needed to prevent the excessive proliferation and mineralization of muscle cells in the walls of the veins that ca uses varicose veins -Researchers compared healthy veins from 36 male patients (aged 30 - 83) with varicose veins from 50 male patients (aged40 - 81). High levels of uncarboxylated (inactive) MGP and increased calcification were seen only in the varicose veins. When vitamin K was added to cultures of small muscle cells from the varicose veins, MGP was activated, stopping the mineralization process.
Cario-Toumaniantz C, Boularan C, Schurgers LJ, Heymann MF, Le Cunff M, LÃ©ger J, Loirand G, Pacaud P. Identification of Differentially Expressed Genes in Human Varicose Veins: Involvement of Matrix Gla Protein in Extracellular Matrix Remodeling. J Vasc Res. 2007 Jul 20;44(6):444-459 [Epub ahead of print] Abstract
Vitamin K-activated OSTEOCALCIN ( a hormone secreted by bone-buildingosteoblast cells) is directly involved in the proliferation of INSULIN- producing pancreatic β-cells - thus improving glucose tolerance and INSULIN sensitivity.
-No OSTEOCALCIN = Low INSULIN - Mice genetically engineered to lack the genes expressed in osteoblasts that enable OSTEOCALCIN secretion are unable to produce normal levels of pancreatic β-cells, and become glucose intolerant and INSULIN resistant.
-OSTEOCALCIN increases production of ADIPONECTIN, an INSULIN-sensitizing hormone produced by fat cells (adipocytes) - further improving INSULIN sensitivity and glucose tolerance.
Lee NK, Sowa H, Hinoi E, Ferron M, Ahn JD, Confavreux C, Dacquin R, Mee PJ, McKee MD, Jung DY, Zhang Z, Kim JK, Mauvais-Jarvis F, Ducy P, Karsenty G. Endocrine regulation of energy metabolism by the skeleton. Cell. 2007 Aug 10;130(3):456-69.Abstract
Vitamin K2-dependent activation of MGP plays a key role in protecting skin elasticity by inhibiting calcium deposits in elastin fibers -smoothing out lines and wrinkles.
Gheduzzi D, Boraldi F, et al. Matrix Gla protein is involved in elastic fiber calcification in the dermis of pseudoxanthoma elasticum patients. Lab Invest. 2007 Oct;87(10):998-1008.
Evidence suggests that vitamin K2 plays a role as an antioxidant within the cells that synthesize the myelin sheath - which forms the electrical insulation of nerves.
Denisova NA, Booth SL. Vitamin K and Sphingolipid Metabolism: Evidence to Date. Nutr Rev. 2005; 63(4): 110-121.