Monday, 21 November 2016

Vitamin K2 May Fight Atherosclerosis

In spite of its role in blood clotting, scientists have recently found powerful evidence that vitamin K2 could slow or prevent atherosclerosis, which is the blockage of arteries that often leads to heart attacks and stroke. It has been known for years that vitamin K2 plays an essential role in activating the proteins that keep calcium where it belongs - in the bones - and not roaming around the bloodstream where it may harden arteries. Other data has shown that people consuming higher levels of K2 have a 57% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and even an 81% lower risk of non-vertebral (spinal) bone fractures.

Not this K2. Source: Kogo
In this new 2015 study, researchers investigated the progression of atherosclerosis in 42 patients with chronic kidney disease. Patients with chronic kidney disease are known to experience rapid losses of bone mineral density, and excessive levels of calcium in places where it shouldn't be, such as the arteries. While both groups received 400IU of vitamin D3 every day, one group was given 90 micrograms of K2 as well. After nine months, the thickness of the carotid artery increased by 13.73% in those just taking vitamin D3, but it only increased by 6.32% in those who were taking both vitamins. Patients who took a combination of both vitamins also showed a reduction in calcification scores, except for those with the highest scores at baseline. Other experts in the same field noticed that, despite random assignment, the patients who were prescribed both vitamins had more severe kidney disease. This means that the effect of vitamin K2 may be stronger than it appeared!

As I said above, this isn't the first time that vitamin K2 has been shown to prevent cardiovascular issues. The Rotterdam study, on 4,807 men and women over the age of 55, found that intakes of vitamin K2 over 32 micrograms was linked with a 50% reduction in deaths from cardiovascular disease, and a 25% drop in all-cause mortality rates. In another, using 16,000 people from the EPIC cohort, every 10 micrograms of dietary vitamin K2 was linked with a 9% reduction in coronary heart disease. Additionally, a randomised, controlled clinical trial tested the effects of supplementary K2 on 244 post-menopausal Dutch women for its effects on bone and cardiovascular health. These researchers found that a daily dose of 180 micrograms could improve cardiovascular health, bone mineral density and bone strength, but at least two years of supplementation was required for a clinically relevant effect.

It is important to notice the difference between vitamins K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 is found in green leafy vegetables, and was not associated with significant effects on cardiovascular health, only K2 was. The diets of people in industrialised countries do not seem to contain much vitamin K2, except for the Japanese diet where K2-rich foods such as natto (a fermented soy product) are eaten. Vitamin K2 is primarily found in organ meats, egg yolks, cheese, and of course, natto. All things we have been told to avoid for years, because of the big bad cholesterol.

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