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Vitamin K, Arterial Calcification and Atherosclerosis

17th April 2007 by Arrow Durfee Posted in Uncategorized

Just an added note: visit this site to see what Dr Mercola says about vit. K. but please note that he is not the only place to purchase Vitamin K2. I get mine from Jarrow.


Researchers at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands recently published the results of an experiment in the journal Blood showing that vitamin K deficiency causes arterial calcification and the death of the smooth muscle cells that line the blood vessel wall. They have shown in previous research that atherosclerosis is characterized by deposits of calcium salts, lipids, white blood cells, and deformed vitamin K-dependent proteins manufactured by cells that do not have enough vitamin K to meet their needs. These deposits are not random — they aggregate around the remnants of dead (“apoptotic”) smooth muscle cells.Vitamin K supports at least two proteins that are likely to protect against atherosclerosis: matrix Gla protein (MGP) and growth arrest specific gene product 6 (Gas6). MGP protects soft tissues from calcification, while Gas6 increases cell survival and helps clear away any fragments left behind by cells that do happen to die.

In this experiment, the researchers induced a vitamin K deficiency in Wistar Kyoto rats with warfarin, an oral anticoagulant that works by inhibiting the recycling of vitamin K. Warfarin caused arterial calcification, a marked increase in the death of smooth muscle cells, a loss of blood vessel elasticity, and a decreased ability of the blood vessels to accomodate changes in pressure. High-dose vitamin K supplementation reversed these changes even after they were induced by warfarin. Low-dose vitamin K supplementation not only did nothing to reverse the effects of warfarin but the calcification actually continued at the same rate in the animals that received the drug after it was discontinued, persisting for the entire duration of the study, showing that the vitamin K deficiency induced by oral anticoagulants persists long after their use is discontinued.

In this study and in an earlier one that the same researchers published, vitamin K1, found in plants, had no ability whatsoever to prevent warfarin-induced calcification when the drug and the vitamin were administered together, while vitamin K2, found in animal foods and fermented plant foods, completely inhibited warfarin-induced calcification. The researchers found, however, that after warfarin was discontinued, both vitamins were equally effective at reversing calcification.

The Wistar Kyoto rats that these researchers used convert vitamin K1 to vitamin K2 with great efficiency. Warfarin not only inhibits the recycling of vitamin K, but also the conversion of vitamin K1 to vitamin K2. Although it is not clear why this would be the case and the findings should therefore be treated with caution, the results strongly suggest that only vitamin K2 protects against heart disease, and that vitamin K1 is effective only insofar as it is converted to vitamin K2. How well humans make this conversion compared to rats is unknown. In The Rotterdam Study, intakes of vitamin K2 showed a powerful inverse association between calcification of the aorta, heart disease, and heart disease mortality. Intakes of vitamin K1 by contrast — even though they were ten times higher than intakes of vitamin K2 — had no relationship to any of these endpoints at all.

Schurgers LJ, Spronk HMH, Soute BAM, Schiffers PM, DeMey JGR, Vermeer C. Regression of warfarin-induced medial alastocalcinosis by high intake of vitamin K in rats. Blood. 2006; [Epub ahead of print].

Remember, vitamin D uses vitamin K2, so you need to make sure you get enough of both.

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2 Responses to “Vitamin K, Arterial Calcification and Atherosclerosis”

  1. Witamina K Says:

    Vitamin K against Atherosclerosis? First heard about it?!

  2. Arrow Durfee Says:

    I think that if you look around the net you will find lots of evidence for the effectiveness of vitamin K.

    Here is another article on it that HealthSalon has.

    and another:

    LEF has a nice vitamin K product also.