Study says K2 Deficiency is as Dangerous as Smoking

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Low K2 intake correlates with cardiovascular disease mortality before age 65 in 168 countries.

Cureus has published a new study[1] that explores the extent that vitamin K2 deficiency is tied to cardiovascular disease (CVD). The results showed that Vitamin K2 was inversely correlated with early CVD mortality to the same degree that tobacco use was positively correlated.


“Animal trials and human observational studies have demonstrated that Vitamin K2 deficiency (mainly the long-chain menaquinones, like MK-7) – whether it be dietary or K inhibition caused by warfarin – contributes to CVD by stiffening and calcifying coronary arteries and other vessels,” says Hogne Vik, chief medical officer with ex-NattoPharma, world leader in vitamin K2 R&D and exclusive global supplier of MenaQ7® Vitamin K2 as MK-7. “Nutrition researchers recently recognized that Vitamin K2 deficiency is widespread and contributes to CVD. The recent study, where multiple regression analysis of female and male cohort data worldwide (168 countries) have been used to relate early death from CVD with major CVD risk factors, has once more confirmed the importance of regular intake of vitamin K2 to secure a healthy CV system.”


For this trial, entitled “Cardiovascular Disease Death Before Age 65 in 168 Countries Correlated Statistically with Biometrics, Socioeconomic Status, Tobacco, Gender, Exercise, Macronutrients, and Vitamin K,” researchers, using publicly available sources, collected food commodity availability data and derived nutrient profiles including vitamin K2 for people from 168 countries. They also collected female and male cohort data on early death from CVD (ages 15-64 years), insufficient physical activity, tobacco, biometric CVD risk markers, socioeconomic risk factors for CVD, and gender. The outcome measures included (1) univariate correlations of early death from CVD with each risk factor, (2) a multiple regression-derived formula relating early death from CVD (dependent variable) to macronutrient profile, vitamin K1 and K2 and other risk factors (independent variables), (3) for each risk factor appearing in the multiple regression formula, the portion of CVD risk attributable to that factor, and (4) similar univariate and multivariate analyses of body mass index (BMI), fasting blood sugar (FBS) (simulated from diabetes prevalence), systolic blood pressure (SBP), and cholesterol/ HDLC ratio (simulated from serum cholesterol) (dependent variables) and dietary and other risk factors (independent variables).

Vitamin K2 in nutrition

Results showed that female and male cohorts in countries that have vitamin K2 < 5μg per 2000 kcal/day per capita (n = 70) had about 2.2 times the rate of early CVD deaths as people in countries with > 24 μg/day of vitamin K2 per 2000 kcal/day (n = 72). A multiple regression-derived formula relating early death from CVD to dietary nutrients and other risk factors accounted for about 50% of the variance between cohorts in early CVD death. The attributable risks of the variables in the CVD early death formula were: too much alcohol (0.38%), too little vitamin K2 (6.95%), tobacco (6.87%), high blood pressure (9.01%), air pollution (9.15%), early childhood death (3.64%), poverty (7.66%), and male gender (6.13%).


The authors concluded that worldwide dietary vitamin K2 data derived from food commodities add much understanding to the analysis of CVD risk factors and the etiology of CVD. Vitamin K2 in food products should be systematically quantified. Public health programs should be considered to increase the intake of vitamin K2-containing fermented plant foods such as sauerkraut, miso, and natto.


“It is important to open the eyes of nutritionists and add Vitamin K2 information to nutrition tables,” add Vik. “Supplementing with products containing MenaQ7 Vitamin K2 as MK-7 is a viable route to combatting Vitamin K2 deficiency, but the problem of concretely identifying this deficiency in the population remains a hurdle. Our hope is that the activity of vitamin K-dependent proteins, such as dpucMGP or ucOC, should become an accessible test for any physician to administer, and would be recognized by the medical community as a way to identify vitamin K deficiency.


“Our three-year interventional study[2] confirmed that adding vitamin K2 to one’s daily intake improves arterial health and flexibility,” Vik adds. “We are excited to see additional studies confirming the dangers of K2 deficiency, and encourage the nutritional community to embrace Vitamin K2 for its unique and specific benefits,” Vik concludes.


1 Cundiff D K, Agutter P S (August 24, 2016) Cardiovascular Disease Death Before Age 65 in 168 Countries Correlated Statistically with Biometrics, Socioeconomic Status, Tobacco, Gender, Exercise, Macronutrients, and Vitamin K. Cureus 8(8): e748. DOI 10.7759/cureus.748

2 Knapen MH et al, Braam LAJL, Drummen NE, Bekers O, Hoeks APG, Vermeer C. Menaquinone-7 supplementation improves arterial stiffness in healthy postmenopausal women: double-blind randomised clinical trial. Thrombosis and Haemostasis. 2015 113 5: 1135-1144. doi: 10.1160/TH14-08-0675.


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