Vitamin K2: The heart-health insurance policy

COVID-19 reshaped how we view health, which has shone a light on Vitamin K2 as an essential supportive -- and protective -- nutrient.

No one wants to think about “what if?” – what if my car breaks down? What if a tree falls on my house? – and yet we actively secure protection for these ever-looming concerns.

Health is no different, but unlike life or medical insurance, the natural products and dietary supplement industries were built upon the idea of keeping the “what if?” at bay altogether. Natural products and dietary supplements have long provided insulation for individuals who recognise diet alone did not deliver the nutrition bodies required to function optimally.

Then came COVID-19…

In less than a year and in an unprecedented way, COVID-19 changed that global mindset. The world collectively recognised it was vulnerable to a new and evolving pathogen and actively – sometimes frantically – began seeking out the elements necessary to insulate itself and loved ones. Immunity has taken center stage, with Vitamin D3 sales skyrocketing, yet Vitamin K2 continues its role as the little- known unsung hero, particularly in the new COVID-19 landscape.

Vitamin K2 & COVID: the soft tissue connection

We achieve longevity by having a healthy foundation in place to carry you into old age, and that foundation requires Vitamin K2 as MK-7. By obtaining adequate amounts daily, K2 activates K- dependent proteins [osteocalcin and matrix Gla protein (MGP)] that direct calcium to the bone and away from arteries and soft tissues, where it can cause them to stiffen, increasing cardiovascular risks. When COVID cast its shadow, researchers began to examine what made us so susceptible to contracting the virus but also what made survivability so elusive.

A groundbreaking study from The Netherlands was the first to pinpoint the connection, demonstrating a link to COVID-19 patients with other conditions, such as cardiovascular issues. Low K status impacts cardiovascular health and the tissue fibers' breakdown, measured by elastin, which is involved in pulmonary disease. 1

Researchers assessed Vitamin K status by measuring the "inactive status" of the vitamin K-dependent MGP and the rate of elastin degradation by measuring desmosine, a recognised marker. The study showed a significant correlation between reduced vitamin K status (i.e. inactive MGP) and accelerated elastic fiber degradation.

According to researchers, MGP is an inhibitor of vascular calcification, and scientific leads suggest that MGP also plays a role in the pathogenesis of lung fibrosis. MGP is crucial for protecting elastic fibers against mineralisation, and fibrosis may be present in the lungs of patients with severe COVID-19. Given that patients with severe COVID-19 are more likely to have comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases, the researchers concluded that vitamin K deficiency might be suspected to be associated with worse COVID-19 outcomes.

This study represents early, promising research, and does not suggest Vitamin K2 is a treatment for COVID-19. What it does illustrate is the connection between low vitamin K status and a poor prognosis. Thus, research continues, hypothesising that improving Vitamin K2 status is linked to better health outcomes, including cardiovascular and perhaps even lung health.

Only means only

A three-year study with healthy postmenopausal women and a one-year trial with healthy men and women validated Vitamin K2 supplementation promotes active MGP for cardiovascular health. 2,3 Both used NattoPharma's MenaQ7 Vitamin K2 as MK-7 and showed arterial flexibility was maintained or even improved.

All Vitamin K2s are not the same. MenaQ7 is the only K2 as MK-7 shown in human clinical trials to deliver this benefit. For those hoping to provide impactful cardiovascular health products, NattoPharma welcomes the opportunity to discuss how its clinically proven ingredient can make that a reality.

References:

1. Dofferhoff, A.S. et al., "Reduced Vitamin K Status as A Potentially Modifiable Prognostic Risk Factor in COVID-19", Preprints 2020, 2020040457 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202004.0457.v1).
2. Knapen MH, et al., "Menaquinone-7 supplementation improves arterial stiffness in healthy postmenopausal women. A double-blind randomised clinical trial." Thromb Haemost. 2015 May;113(5):1135-44. Doi: 10.1160/TH14-08-0675.
3. Vermeer C and Vik H., "Effect of Menaquinone-7 (vitamin K2) on vascular elasticity in healthy subjects: results from a one-year study", 2020 Vascul Dis Ther, 5: doi: 10.15761/VDT.1000179.

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