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Natto enzyme may boost heart health in at-risk people

By Stephen Daniells , 16-Apr-2009

Nattokinase, an enzyme extracted from fermented soy, may reduce levels of compounds linked to blood clotting, and cut the risk of heart disease in people at-risk of the disease, suggests new research from Taiwan.

The enzyme was found to be able to reduce levels of blood clotting (coagulation) factors such as fibrinogen, factor VII, and factor VIII in 45 men and women, according to results of a study published in the Nutrition Research.

 

“These results, namely, the observed reduction of the coagulation factors of fibrinogen, factor VII, and factor VIII, suggest that nattokinase administration can be considered as a CVD nutraceutical,” wrote the authors, led by Chien-Hsun Hsia from Changhua Christian Hospital.

 

“To our knowledge, this study is the first clinical trial reported in the literature to investigate the effects of nattokinase on the CVD-associated coagulation factors.”

 

The rise of nattokinase

 

At SupplySide West in Las Vegas last year, Vincent Hackel, CEO and president of Japan Bio Science Laboratory-USA, told NutraIngredients that growth in nattokinase supplements was doubling every year. “Nattokinase is right on the cusp of taking off,” he said. JBSL-USA’s nattokinase was not used in the new study.

 

The majority of science has focused on reducing blood pressure and the prevention of blood clots. According to Hackel, nattokinase supplements have been available in the US for about five years and for two years in Europe.

 

Study details

 

Hsai and his co-workers recruited 45 people and divided them into three groups depending on their health profile: healthy volunteers, patients with cardiovascular risk factors, and dialysis patients.

 

The open-label, self-controlled clinical trial involved the participants a daily dose of 800 milligrams of nattokinase for two months.

 

After two months of supplementation, the researchers noted that levels of fibrinogen, factor VII, and factor VIII had fallen by 9, 14, and 17 per cent, respectively, in the healthy individuals; by 7, 13, and 19 per cent, respectively, in the CVD risk group; and 10, 7, and 19, respectively, in the dialysis patients.

 

No changes in blood lipid levels were observed, added the researchers.

 

Importantly, no adverse effects were noted by the researchers, leading them to state that nattokinase was “safe and in healthy volunteers, patients with high-risk CVD factors, and dialysis patients”.

 

How it works

 

“Fibrinogen is involved in primary haemostasis and is the major determinant of whole blood and plasma viscosity; elevated plasma fibrinogen levels are known to be independently associated with CVD,” wrote Hsai and his co-workers. “According to the present results, nattokinase supplementation can ameliorate blood viscosity and may reduce the incidence of CVD.

 

“In addition, both factors VII and VIII have been reported to have cross-sectional association with atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease and, prospectively, with coronary heart disease, stroke, ischemic heart disease, and diabetes mellitus.

 

“The potent effects of nattokinase on lowering blood level of factor VII and factor VIII may imply that it can be considered as a nutraceutical for several types of CVD,” they added.

 

Limitations

 

The researchers said that the results should be interpreted cautiously since the study was self-controlled and open-label. “Because of the study design, further investigations following a randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled design are needed for validation of the results,” they concluded.

 

Source: Nutrition Research
Volume 29, Issue 3, Pages 190-196
“Nattokinase decreases plasma levels of fibrinogen, factor VII, and factor VIII in human subjects”
Authors: C.-H. Hsia, M.-C. Shen, J.-S. Lin, Y.-K. Wen, K.-L. Hwang, T.-M. Cham, N.-C. Yang

 

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