Varicose Veins and Vitamin K: Necessary for Cardiovascular Health

P.L. Thomas announced today a new study published online in the current Journal of Vascular Research link suggests that vitamin K provides significant benefits for promoting cardiovascular health. The study links a vitamin K-dependent protein called matrix GLA protein (MGP) to increased mineralization of the smooth muscle cells in the vein wall, which may contribute to the development of varicose veins.

Varicose veins have an estimated prevalence of between 5% to 30% in the adult population, with a female to male predominance of 3 to 1. The exact mechanisms by which varicose vein develop are still unclear, although several risk factors are known to be involved, including genetic predispositions, age, obesity, physical activity, standing occupations, multiple pregnancies and connective tissue abnormalities.

According to Leon Schurgers, PhD, one of the authors of the paper: "Defects in the vein wall are indicated in varicosis, with a central role for the vitamin-K dependent protein MGP. MGP is important in relation to the health of the entire cardiovascular system. Previous studies from our group demonstrated the importance of MGP and vitamin K for the arterial vessel wall, and now we show that MGP and vitamin K could play a significant role in varicose veins. In addition to human studies showing significantly reduced cardiovascular risk factors with vitamin K2 consumption, this study builds upon our understanding the mechanisms of MGP."

The researchers examined healthy human veins and varicose veins to identify genes in the vein's smooth muscle cells that may be involved in the development of varicosis. Healthy vessels and varicose vessels were compared and inactive MGP was identified in the development of varicosis. Vitamin K is necessary to activate MGP, and thus adequate dietary intake of vitamin K is a necessary prerequisite. The researchers concluded that in varicose veins the local vascular vitamin K status was insufficient to activate all MGP, and that supplementation could restore the activity of MGP. Active MGP could inhibit both proliferation and mineralization of veins, thereby stopping the development of varicosis.

The benefits of vitamin K for cardiovascular health are tied to its role activating MGP, the most potent inhibitor of vascular calcification known. This role gained attention by the findings of a study published in the Journal of Nutrition : link called the "Rotterdam Study" in 2004, involving over 4,800 people over a ten year period. The study found increased intake of specifically vitamin K2 significantly reduced the risk of CHD mortality by 50% as compared to low dietary vitamin K2 intake. In this study, vitamin K1 had no effect at al.

These results were confirmed in an experimental animal where rats were fed a diet which depleted their vitamin K stores, resulting in inactive vitamin-K dependent proteins, including MGP, leading to major arterial calcification, whereas the addition of vitamin K2 completely inhibited the induced calcification. A follow-up study published this April in the journal Blood : link demonstrated that supplemental vitamin K2 actually regressed preformed calcifications in an animal model.

A second study, also published in the journal Blood : link this April, compared vitamin K to vitamin K2 in humans. This trial confirms that natural vitamin K2 (menaquinone-7, or MK-7) is the most effective form of Vitamin K due to its long chain structure, which results in a very long half life of three days, allowing the K2 to be available to the body for 72-96 hours. Vitamin K and the short chain vitamin K2 menaquinone-4 have a half-life of just one hour, and thus are available to the body for less than 8 hours.

Natural vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods like cheese and curd, and in particularly high levels in the Japanese fermented soy-food called Natto.

For more information, contact Eric Anderson at 973-984-0900, x215 or email [email protected].

PLT offers a natural vitamin K2 as menaquinone-7 under the tradename MenaQ7 in alliance with Natto Pharma, Norway.

About MenaQ7
MenaQ7 provides Natural Vitamin K2 as an extract of natto, a fermented soy food from Japan. Natto is particularly rich in the highly bio-available form of vitamin K2 called menaquinone-7 (MK-7). MenaQ7 is the only commercially viable Natural Vitamin K2 with guaranteed actives and stability, clinical substantiation and international patents awarded and pending.

About PL Thomas
PL Thomas, a New Jersey-based ingredient supplier, offers fifty years of innovation in securing reliable, high quality raw materials for the food/functional food and nutrition industries. PLT is a one-stop resource for application solutions, current industry information and technical service, and specializes in water-soluble gums and clinically-supported botanical extracts. About Natto Pharma
NattoPharma, Norway is the exclusive international supplier of MenaQ7 natural Vitamin K2. NattoPharma has entered into a multi-year Research and Development program to substantiate and discover the health benefits of natural vitamin K2 for applications in the exciting marketplace for functional food and health food supplements.

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