Vitamin K2 lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease
- even in smokers
It has been known for long that vitamin K2 is important for circulation and bone health. According to a new study, vitamin K2 also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease in smokers and other nicotine users. This is because vitamin K2 counteracts oxidative stress and atherosclerosis. The scientists stress how important vitamin K2 is for public health, including otherwise unhealthy groups such as smokers.
Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of death globally and smoking more than doubles the risk of early death caused by a blood clot in the heart. Dutch and German research partners of the Norwegian company NattoPharma have just published a new study where they used a special scanning technique (µCT) to determine the degree of atherosclerosis in smokers and non-smokers and also to find out if supplementation with vitamin K2 had any effect.
They found that smokers had more atherosclerotic plaque in their carotid arteries, a sign that they generally had a higher degree of atherosclerosis. More specifically, the scientists found that microcalcification was 17 times more prevalent in smokers compared with non-smokers for several different reasons.
Nicotine and smoke damages the circulatory system in many ways
The researchers observed that nicotine increases the activities of different genes (Runx2, Osx, BSP, and OPN) and secretion from extracellular vesicles (EV). Nicotine triggers different chain reactions that set the stage for oxidative stress which can then attack cholesterol, causing it to deposit in the vessel walls together with calcium. Nicotine appears to promote atherosclerosis by way of several mechanisms.
The researchers also explain that there is nicotine in cigarettes as well as in e-cigarettes. Therefore, quitting tobacco and switching to electronic cigarettes is not enough if you want to improve your cardiovascular health. Smoke generates cascades of free radicals that also add to the damage.
Vitamin K2 inhibits atherosclerosis in smokers
According to Dr. Hogne Vik who headed the new study, scientists at Maastricht University in Holland have been working for nearly 20 years to demonstrate vitamin K2’s effect on health. It is commonly known that vitamin K2 plays a role in the formation of certain proteins that help remove calcium from the bloodstream and embed it in bone tissue. That way, vitamin K2 can prevent both atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. It is less known that vitamin K2 also serves as an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties.
According to the new study, vitamin K2 has an enormous therapeutic impact on the circulatory system – not only in healthy individuals but also in unhealthy people such as those who depend on nicotine.
Vitamin K2 sources
How much vitamin K2 do we need?
We need at least 45 micrograms of vitamin K2 daily to counteract heart disease. This was also seen in a study from Rotterdam where people who supplemented with 45 micrograms of vitamin K2 daily lived seven years longer on average than those who only got 12 micrograms daily. Although the jury is still out on the question of the optimal daily intake for this nutrient, studies do suggest that there are benefits of taking higher doses such as 90-180 micrograms per day without any risk of side effects. Vitamin K2 is lipid-soluble. Therefore, supplements of this vitamin should always be taken with a fat-containing meal to ensure good absorption in the digestive system.
We used to get a lot more vitamin K2 from our diet
That is because we used to preserve food by fermenting it. Today, we are more likely to use pasteurization, food preservatives, refrigeration, and freezing, instead.
Nikki Hancocks. Study: Vit K2 could reduce heart health risk in nicotine users. NUTRAingredients.com 28.juli 2021
Petsophonsakul P, Borgmaier M, et al. Nicotine promotes vascular calcification via intracellular CA2+mediated, NOX5-induces oxidative stress and extracellular vesicle release in vascular smooth muscle cells. Cardiovascular Research 2021
S. Thamratnopkoon et al. Correlation of Plasma Desphosporylated Uncarboxylated Matrix Gla Protein with Vascular Calcification and Stiffness in Chronic Kidney Disease. Nephron. 2017 Published online.
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