Vitamin K2 improves heart health in older women

March 04, 2015

Vitamin K2 improves heart health in older women

Maastricht University researchers enrolled 244 healthy post-menopausal women ranging in age from 55 to 65 into this three-year long study. The women received either inactive placebo or 180 mcg of Vitamin K2 (as menaquinone-7 or MK-7) daily over the three year period. The vitamin supplement beneficially affected cardiovascular health. The Vitamin K2 inhibited age-related stiffening of artery walls, and made an unprecedented statistically significant improvement in vascular elasticity.

Dennis Goodman, MD, a board certified cardiologist at NYU-Langone Medical Center in Manhattan states “This cardiovascular study is significant because it shows that vitamin K2 not only benefits our bone health, but is also important to heart health”. He also states “Vitamin K2 ensures that calcium binds to bone mineral matrix and stays out of arteries. This is important because if calcium accumulates in the arteries, it may cause blockages that can lead to serious cardiovascular events.”

There is a thin layer of cells that line the walls of blood vessels called endothelial cells. These cells are lined up shoulder to shoulder and push the blood vessels open when more blood flow is needed. If these cells do not function well it contributes to vascular resistance and is a major part of developing heart disease. When the cells function well there is less vascular resistance to the pumping action of the heart and this strongly helps maintain normal blood pressure reducing stress in the heart muscle and decreasing wear and tear on the heart. “This study, which is actually showing an improvement in endothelial function, has the potential to dramatically impact the way we view prevention when it comes to cardiovascular health,” Dr Goodman adds.

There are two natural forms of Vitamin K; Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 (aka phylloquinone or phytonadione) is found in green leafy vegetables and it accounts for 90% of the Vitamin K intake in US adults. Vitamin K2 (aka menaquinones) is made by the healthy Probiotic bacteria in our intestines or by fermenting certain foods. Vitamin K2 family consists of different menaquinones including MK4 (found in meat), MK-7, MK-8 and MK-9; these three are found in fermented foods such as natto which is a fermented soybean food (MK-7) or found in certain cheeses such as Gouda. The study is published in the May 2015 issue of the journal Thrombosis and Haemostasis; the international journal for Vascular Medicine and Biology.

The following is a study on Vitamin K1 previously published on our website;

A Low blood level of Vitamin K1 connected to a greater incidence of spinal fractures in Japanese women

Scientists at Kobe Pharmaceutical University in Japan note that vitamin K supplementation effectively prevents fractures and maintains bone mineral density in people treated for osteoporosis. The objectives of the current study were to evaluate the association between plasma K1 or K2 (K2 as MK-4 and MK-7)) concentrations and bone health or risk of fracture in Japanese women.

A total of 379 healthy women aged 30-88 years (with an average age of 63) were consecutively enrolled. Plasma K1, K2, bone mineral density and incidence of vertebral fractures of the spine were evaluated. A low level of Vitamin K1 was independently correlated with vertebral (spinal) fracture incidence. When the women were divided into those having a low and high K1 (according to blood- plasma K1 levels), the incidence of vertebral fracture was much lower in the high K1 group in which 4.2% had a spinal fracture, compared to the low k1 group in
in which 14.4% had spinal fractures. Those women with a low level of Vitamin K1 had a 358% increased risk of fracturing their spine and this is independent of osteoporosis. The study is published online ahead of print in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism.