Vitamin K deficiency linked to increased risk of CVD in new study

Researchers have identified populations that consume large amounts of vitamins K1 and K2 have better heart and bone health outcomes

Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, the journal for the American Heart Association, just published an 11-year study that draws a clear line between vitamin K deficiency and an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

To date, 19 vitamin K–dependent proteins (VKDPs) have been described with important roles in coagulation, platelet function and vascular biology. Produced in an inactive form, all VKDPs obtain biological activity through the conversion of a glutamic acid residue into glutamate, a complex process requiring vitamin K.

‘Western populations are not afflicted with blood diseases because of a vitamin K1 deficiency. Clearly we get enough vitamin K in our diets to effectively coagulate blood; however, our total K status outside the liver – particularly vitamin K2 status – plays an important role in maintaining and supporting our heart and bone health,’ says Dr Hogne Vik, Chief Medical Officer with NattoPharma, world leader in vitamin K2 research and development and exclusive global supplier of MenaQ7 vitamin K2 as MK-7.

The authors investigated whether VKDP activity was associated with cardiovascular disease in a random sample of 709 multi-ethnic adults free of cardiovascular disease drawn from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), who were followed up with for 11 years. The circulating des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP) concentrations were measured to indicate lower VKDP activity.

The results showed that ischaemic cardiovascular disease incidence rates were higher with greater concentration of DCP. Further, that subjects with the lowest activity of VKDP revealed two-times higher risk of cardiovascular events than people with the highest activity of VKDP.

‘The study showed that a total of 84% of the cohort participants had a DCP >2ng/mL (considered the threshold for VKDP inactivity), so the majority of participants were vitamin K subdeficient. Moreover, it has been shown that participants with higher DCP concentrations (lower VKDP activity) tended to be older,’ continues Dr Vik, adding that a similar finding showed that adults above 40 years showed the largest tissue-specific vitamin deficiency after children.

‘Researchers have identified populations that consume large amounts of vitamins K1 and K2 have better heart and bone health outcomes. Intervention studies have also demonstrated that adding vitamin K reduces cardiovascular risk factors,’ concludes Dr Vik. ‘This is yet another important study showing that a lack of K vitamins, particularly vitamin K2, results in increased cardiovascular risk. This finding should raise awareness of this important class of proteins as a potential contributor to cardiovascular disease protection.’