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Vitamin K2 helps keep blood vessels flexible, protects the joints, helps athletic training and more

Vitamin K2 and blood vessel flexibility – a link to longevity 

In the first study on long-term vitamin K2 supplementation and cardiovascular health, 244 healthy postmenopausal women took 180 mcg of vitamin K2 MK-7 (menaquinone-7) per day or a placebo. After three years, while the placebo group had an increase in blood vessel stiffness, women who took vitamin K2 saw an average 33 percent improvement in blood vessel flexibility. 

Discussing the findings, doctors said it was remarkable that the women taking vitamin K2 not only did not experience the typical age-related stiffening of the arterial walls, but also saw measurable improvements in vascular elasticity across the entire circulatory system compared to the placebo group. Arterial flexibility has a direct link to longevity.1

 

Vitamin K2 helps protect the hip 

Vitamin K2 maintained bone strength and reduced risk for hip fracture in postmenopausal women, according to results from a new study.

Researchers from the University of Maastricht, Netherlands, followed 325 postmenopausal women without osteoporosis with an average age of 66 and an average body mass index of 27 who were overweight but not obese. Scientists gave the women a placebo or 15 mg of vitamin K2 (MK-4, menatetrenone) three times per day for three years.

The doctors noted that the MK-4 form of vitamin K2 is synthetic and only remains in the body for several hours compared to menaquinone (MK-7) the natural form of vitamin K2, which remains in the body for several days. The doctors explained this is why the dosage in the study was higher than the typical dose for vitamin K2.

At the start of the study and after each year, researchers measured the amount of minerals in the bone and bone strength. After three years, those who had taken vitamin K2 had increased bone mineral content and width of the hip bone (femoral neck) compared to placebo. Doctors noted the femoral neck is the part of the hip that fractures most frequently in the elderly. Overall, researchers reported that bone strength remained unchanged in those who had taken vitamin K2, while it decreased significantly in the placebo group.

Doctors concluded that vitamin K2 increased the bone mineral content and width at the femoral neck, allowing this important part of the hip to remain strong, even though overall bone mineral density (BMD) declined after menopause, and suggested that manufacturers create a low-dose supplement using the natural menaquinone MK-7 form of vitamin K2.2

 

MK-7 (a form of vitamin K2) may ease joint symptoms

In normal joints, the synovium is a thin, delicate lining that provides nutrients for cartilage. Synovial cells make joint lubricants, collagen, and fibronectin for structural joint support. In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), this lining thickens and inflames. MK-7 is one of the menaquinones, which doctors believe kill RA synovial cells. A recent study found MK-4 beneficial in RA, but MK-7 is more bioavailable, hence this study.

In the study, 84 men and women with RA took 100 mcg of MK-7 per day, or a placebo, while continuing on other medications. After three months, while the placebo group had not changed, those taking MK-7 had measurably lower levels of two types of inflammation, fewer of the proteins that degrade connective tissue in RA, and lower disease activity scores in 28 joints.3

 

Low vitamin D and K levels linked to higher blood pressure

Earlier studies found a link between low levels of vitamin D, or vitamin K, separately, and chances for heart and vascular problems, but new research suggests when both nutrients are low, chances for developing high blood pressure increase.

Doctors analyzed levels of vitamins D and K in 231 people participating in a long-term aging study. Those whose levels of vitamin D were below 20 nanograms per milliliter of blood and whose vitamin K levels fell below 323 picomoles per liter of blood had systolic and diastolic blood pressure 4.8 and 3.1 mmHg higher, respectively, compared to those with better levels of vitamins D and K. Discussing the findings, doctors said the combination of low vitamin D and K was linked to increased blood pressure, and that this relationship could play a role in developing high blood pressure.4

 

Vitamin K2 may help athletic training

Cells produce energy inside specialized compartments called mitochondria. They make ATP — the "energy currency" of the body. Vitamin K2 can restore mitochondrial function. Therefore, it was hypothesized that supplemental K2 could boost the function of mitochondrial-dense muscles such as skeletal muscle and the heart. 

In this study, 26 male and female athletes took a placebo or 325 mcg of vitamin K2 per day for four weeks, then 160 mcg of vitamin K2 per day for four more weeks.

Taking a standard cycle ergometer test, the vitamin K2 group saw a 12 percent increase in the maximum amount of blood the heart could pump by the end of the study. Vitamin K2 appeared to reduce by several months the amount of continuous training it would take to increase heart pumping capacity without vitamin K2.5

 

Vitamin K may help protect against kidney stones

Healthy levels of vitamin K help prevent excess calcium build-up in the blood and along artery walls. Doctors thought chances for developing kidney stones would increase when vitamin K levels are low.

In this study of 1,748 men and women, doctors measured levels of a protein that inhibits calcium buildup — matrix Gla protein (MGP). Vitamin K activates MGP. One-third of the participants began the study with high levels of inactive MGP.

Over the 12-year follow-up period, those with the highest levels of inactive MGP were 31 percent more likely to have developed kidney stones than those with lower inactive MGP levels. The findings suggest that increasing vitamin K in the diet or adding vitamin K supplements may help keep kidney stones from forming.6

 

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