Danish population study further bolsters case for vitamin K2

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Adequate levels of vitamin K2 have been shown to help restrict the formation of arterial plaques. ©Getty Images - Rasi Bhadramani
Adequate levels of vitamin K2 have been shown to help restrict the formation of arterial plaques. ©Getty Images - Rasi Bhadramani

Related tags cardiovascular health Cardiovascular disease Vitamin k2

A new study on cardiovascular health using a protein as a biomarker has bolstered the evidence backing the notion that the benefits of vitamin K2 are so important that the substance should have its own RDI, a Norwegian supplier says.

The new study was published online ahead of print and is scheduled to be included in the September issue of the journal Clincal Biochemistry.​  It was written by a team of researchers from several hospitals, institutes and universities in Denmark.

The researchers looked at the levels of inactive matrix Gla protein (MGP), a known biomarker for K-vitamins status, and cardiovascular risk.  MGP is involved with the mobility of calcium into and out of the bone matrix.

The problem with calcium

Calcium supplementation has been shown to be important for bone health, but has in some cases been associated with arterial calcification.  But recent research has shown that having enough vitamin K2 on hand activates enough MGP​ to keep this from happening.

Thus, the Danish researchers postulated that MGP could be used as a handy biomarker for vitamin K2 status.  The hypothesis was that a correlation would be found between levels of the inactive form of this protein and greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

To test the hypothesis the researchers examined data from a large population cohort. The researchers tested for levels of this protein in 491 subjects of a large Danish population survey.  Blood was drawn from 229 men and 262 women.  The subjects ranged in age from 19 to 71.

The researchers concluded there was a strong correlation between a higher level of inactive MGP and a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Increased plasma dp-ucMGP levels were positively associated with cardiovascular risk factors such as arterial stiffness (as reflected by increased ePWV), hypertension, obesity, and history of CVD events. These findings support that dp-ucMGP is a biomarker of cardiovascular risk and lend support to the hypothesis that vitamin K status plays a role in vascular calcification and risk of CVD… Prospective studies could establish the causal direction of these associations and whether increased vitamin K intake represents a preventive measure against vascular calcification and CVD-risk,” ​they said.

“Different studies have found an association between dietary vitamin K intake and CVDs. Particularly menaquinone (K2) is associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality,” ​the researchers added.

Adding to the evidence

Norwegian supplier Nattopharma, which manufactures a form of vitamin K2 branded as MenaQ7 has worked to build the case for an RDI for a number of years. That effort is being funded in part by a so-called INTRICARE grant awarded to NattoPharma’s International Research Network by the European Union within the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie research and innovation program.

Two review papers were published recently under the grant, which serve to bolster the evidence package for the menaquinone-7 form of vitamin K, known as vitamin K2.  Vitamin K has long been known for its role in blood coagulation, but K2 has a range of benefits in cardiovascular and bone health that go far beyond that, said Eric Anderson, senior vice president of marketing for NattoPharma.

“Vitamin K has always been accepted as the coagulation vitamin,”​ Anderson told NutraIngredients-USA.  “We are trying to build a body of evidence to make a case for an RDI on K2 based on its other effects.”

The most recent Danish paper, which is not part of the INTRICARE grant, will further add to that body of research, said Nattopharma chief science officer Dr Hogne Vik, MD as well as help to clear up some misconceptions about this family of vitamins.

“It still remains a common misunderstanding that vitamin K, in general, impacts arterial calcificiation, when in fact it is Vitamin K2 that is available beyond the liver to support bone and cardiovascular health,”​ says Dr. Hogne Vik, NattoPharma Chief Medical Officer. ”Our studies with MenaQ7 have shown that K status was more efficiently improved in adults as well as children with supplementation of Vitamin K2 as MK-7.2 Both of NattoPharma’s cardiovascular intervention trials showed improved vascular health with just 180mcg – our 3-year study cardiovascular study in healthy postmenopausal women showed improved arterial flexibility, and now our 1-year study in men and women showed a significant decrease in dp-ucMGP,​ he said.

Source: Clincal Biochemistry


Uncarboxylated matrix Gla-protein: A biomarker of vitamin K status and cardiovascular risk

Authors: Jespersen T, et al.

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