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Vitamin K shows potential in the fight against wrinkles

By Katie Bird , 19-Oct-2007

Research suggests that vitamin K plays a role in protecting skin elasticity and may help protect against skin aging and the development of wrinkles.

Recent studies have linked vitamin K to the elasticity of skin in patients suffering from pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE), an inherited condition resulting in severe wrinkling of the skin on the face and body. Although the link between vitamin K and normal levels of skin wrinkling seen in healthy populations is unknown, scientists suggest that these studies illustrate that the vitamin is involved, in some capacity, in the skin's elastic qualities. The findings add to an increasing body of research illustrating the effects of nutritional intake and supplements of skin health, tapping in to the ever trend for beauty from within. This severe loss of elastic qualities is due to the calcification of the elastic fibers. The high concentrations of calcium and phosphate in the extracellular space would lead to calcification if it wasn't inhibited by families of proteins. The recent study published online in the journal Laboratory Investigation illustrates the involvement of Matrix ?-carboxyglutamic acid protein (MGP) in the inhibition of calcium precipitation in sufferers of PXE. However this protein must be activated by a vitamin K dependent enzyme. Furthermore, prior research has shown that individuals who are unable to metabolise vitamin K also exhibit the PXE symptoms, thereby confirming the role of the vitamin in the skin wrinkling seen in sufferers. "For the moment the link between vitamin K and skin elastin in the population that does not have PXE is unknown" Leon Schurgers, from the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands, and co-author of the report told NutraIngredients.com's sister site, CosmeticsDesign. However, the fact that the research has identified a strong link between vitamin K and the PXE phenotype, leads Schurgers to speculate that the vitamin may be linked to signs of wrinkling and loss of skin elastin in aging individuals in healthy populations. "It is often easier to investigate the diseased form, in order to reveal a protein's function, as in healthy populations the differences are too subtle" Schurgers explained. Similarly, the effect of vitamin K supplements on the skin in healthy individuals is not yet known, although Schurgers imagined that the findings might be of particular interest to those working in the supplements market. There are two main forms of vitamin K: phylloquinone, also known as phytonadione, (vitamin K1) which is found in green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli and spinach, and makes up about 90 per cent of the vitamin K in a typical Western diet; and menaquinones (vitamins K2), which make up about 10 per cent of Western vitamin K consumption and can be synthesised in the gut by microflora. Menaquinones (MK-n: with the n determined by the number of prenyl side chains) can also be found in the diet; MK-4 can be found in animal meat, MK-7, MK-8, and MK-9 are found in fermented food products like cheese, and natto (a Japanese fermented soy food) is a rich source of MK-7. Source: Laboratory Investigation 2007 doi: 10.1038/labinvest.3700667 "Matrix Gla protein is involved in elastic fiber calcification in the dermis of pseudoxanthoma elasticum patients" Dealba Gheduzzi, Frederica Boraldi, Guilia Annovi, Chiara Paolinelli DeVincenzi, Leon Schurgers, Cees Vermeer, Daniela Quaglino and Ivonne Pasquali Ronchetti

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