Researchers of the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands examined 564 post-menopausal women regarding whether a daily intake of vitamin K1 and K2 is associated with the degree of coronary calcification.
A higher intake of vitamin K2 was associated with 20% reduction of coronary calcification. The publication is accepted by the journal "Atherosclerosis" and the results are now available online.
Each year over 208,000 people die from diseases of the heart and circulatory system (CVD) in the UK. More than one in three people (36%) die from CVD each year ( www.heartstats.org).
Post-menopausal women are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Recently it was shown that osteoporosis is correlated with the degree of coronary calcification.
For this study the researchers choose post-menopausal women from a larger group of women whom are being studied for the relationship between diet and breast cancer.
This study (1) was undertaken to examine the hypothesis that natural vitamin K plays a crucial role in the prevention of heart disease. The study discovered that high consumption of natural vitamin K2 (about 45 micrograms daily) was associated with 20% decreased coronary calcification as compared with low consumption of K2 (about 18 micrograms daily). Preventing arterial calcification is important for a healthy and flexible vasculature. Further, for Vitamin K1 no such correlation was found.
Vitamin K2, in the form of menaquinone-7, is transported to extra hepatic tissues. "Menaquinones could therefore more effectively influence MGP and coronary calcification", according to the researchers. MGP (matrix Gla protein) is a regulator of calcium crystal formation in the circulatory system. MGP is a vitamin K-dependent protein - meaning vitamin K is required to activate this important protein.
Previously in the Rotterdam Study (2) with 4807 participants, a strong association was seen between higher vitamin K2 (45 micrograms of menaquinone-7) intake resulted in 50% lower risk of arterial calcification and mortality as a result of heart disease Vitamin K1 did not show an effect.
"This study confirms once again that natural Vitamin K2, also called the menaquinones, are clearly linked to the prevention of cardiovascular disease," said Vitamin K expert Leon J. Schurgers, senior scientist from VitaK at the Maastricht University in the Netherlands. "While all K vitamins are important, it seems that especially the natural vitamin K2 intake is essential to cardiovascular health."
This study shows that a higher intake of vitamin K2 (and apparently not vitamin K1) is associated with less calcification of the coronary arteries.
The results indicate that an adequate daily intake of 45 micrograms is important to prevent diseases of the heart and arteries.
(1) Y.T. van der Schouw et al. "High dietary menaquinone intake is associated with reduced coronary calcification". Atherosclerosis. Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2008.07.010
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(2) J.M. Geleijnse et al. Dietary intake of vitamin K-2 reduces the risk of cardiac events and aortic atherosclerosis: The Rotterdam Study. Journal of Nutrition 134 (2004) 3100-3105.
Natural vitamin K2 is found in fermented food and particularly in larger quantities in "natto".
Natto is a Japanese breakfast meal and is a rich source of menaquinone-7.
Vitamin K2 (MK-7) is available in the UK in supplement form under the brand name MenaQ7 from Springfield Nutraceuticals and can be found at High Street stores of Boots and at the Nutri Centre ( www.nutricentre.com)
Notes for the editor:
Information: Springfield Nutraceuticals, Peter van Hogerhuis
Tel. no. 0031 186 626173, E-mail [email protected]
MenaQ7 is available in capsules with 45 micrograms of vitamin K2 in packages of 30 capsules (GBP 9.99) and 60 capsules (GBP 18.95)
Vitamin K background information:
- Vitamin K has traditionally been associated with helping the blood to clot.
- The two main forms of vitamin K are phylloquinones (K1) and menaquinones (K2), but research has shown that that natural vitamin K2, or menaquinone-7 (MK-7), is the most effective form of vitamin K due to its long chain structure.
- Vitamin K1 can be derived from leafy green vegetables and natural vitamin K2 can be found in fermented dairy food products such as curd cheese but the richest source is the traditional Japanese breakfast food natto