Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, a journal of the American Heart Association, published an 11-year study that suggested a link between vitamin K deficiency and an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
Currently, 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,” said Dr. Hogne Vik, chief medical officer with NattoPharma.
The authors investigated whether VKDP activity was associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a random sample of 709 multi-ethnic adults free of CVD drawn from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), who were followed up with for 11 years. The circulating des-γ -carboxy prothrombin (DCP) concentrations were measured to indicate lower VKDP activity. The results showed that ischemic cardiovascular disease incidence rates were higher with greater concentration of DCP.
Furthermore, 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 percent of the cohort participants had a DCP >2 ng/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 (i.e., lower VKDP activity) tended to be older,” said Vik.
“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,” concluded Vik.