Vitamin K against osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis

August 22, 2005

Researchers recommend Vitamin K supplementation. The need for this vitamin may be even greater than was previously supposed. Vitamin K deficiency leads to weaker bones and calcification of the arteries and vitamin K supplementation will both treat and prevent these problems.

Vitamin K “should be strongly considered as a dietary supplement” for women after menopause and for diabetics, groups which have high risks of developing both osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis. The vitamin is very non toxic and seems to be able to combat these ailments.

This is the very uncompromising conclusion put forth in a new scientific summary of vitamin K which has been published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, which is a serious but lesser known professional journal.

In spite of this journals lack of prominence, it’s very direct message regarding vitamin K will spread throughout the world. It was quickly published in its entirety by the worlds largest website for doctors. Medscape has millions of readers worldwide.

Vitamin K is found almost exclusively in green vegetables. It is practically nonexistent in other foodstuffs. It was previously believed that the bacteria in our intestines hold us well supplied with the vitamin. This is not the case!

It is officially recommended (in the USA) that one has an intake of no less than 100 micrograms vitamin K daily, corresponding to about 75 grams green salad, spinach, etc. This is supposedly enough for the blood to coagulate properly.

But according to the article ensuring proper coagulation is far from enough. The vitamin is just as important for bones and arteries, and its optimal effect requires much more than officially recommended. In studies with vitamin K1, 10 times the official recommendation (10,000 micrograms) is typically used. This can be done worry free, there are no side effects. No effects have been reported, even when 45,000 micrograms K2 was used per day, 400-500 times recommended, for up to many years.

Vitamin K is responsible for making certain proteins able to bind to calcium. This occurs by the vitamin attaching mild acids (carboxyl groups) to the protein enabling it, like a type of crane, to pick up and move calcium to where it is needed. The protein which has this effect in bones is called osteocalcin and is produced with the aid of vitamin D. With the help of a weak acid osterocalcin can pick up calcium from the blood and place it in the bones. Vitamin K has long been used in Japan to counteract osteoarthritis.

In clogged arteries, for example the coronary arteries, the opposite occurs. It is believed that vitamin K counteracts the depositing of calcium in these vessels by adding a certain protein to the same acids. If the protein is missing or damaged and inaccessible to the acid, the blood vessel clogs quickly. This has been shown in animal studies. Normally the “crane” removes calcium from the arteries so they do not become clogged.

That there is a protein which prevents atherosclerosis and that vitamin K is necessary for its production is a very revolutionary theory. The theory is supported by Dutch research. In a three year long randomised study on older women, half received a daily dose of 1,000 micrograms vitamin K while the rest unknowingly received placebo.

The stiffness of the women’s carotid arteries was measured before and after the three years as a measure for the degree of arthrosclerosis. After the three year period this was unchanged in the women who received the vitamin K whereas nature had marched on in the rest of the women. Their arteries became 8% stiffer.

The strange phenomenon where calcium disappears from the bones and is accumulated in the arteries with age is called the “calcification paradox.” Aging phenomena are without a doubt a part of the explanation, but vitamin K deficiency is probably also contributory. It is without a doubt important to consider this paradox.

If you receive strong blood thinning medicine such as Marevan, you should unfortunately avoid vitamin K supplements. Any such supplement can counteract your treatment and be life threatening.

By: Vitality Council

1. Adams J, Pepping J. Vitamin K in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis and arterial calcification. Am J Health-Syst Pharm 2005;62:1574-81.
2. Braam LA et al. Beneficial effects of vitamin D and K on the elastic properties of the vessel wall in postmenopausal women: A follow up study. J Thromb Haemosta. 2004;91:373-80.

Broccoli and Spinach are Not Likely to Affect INR Blood Test

December 10, 2004

Promising Dutch study of Vitamin K. The somewhat cryptic headline is probably nonsense to most people, but nevertheless has great importance to all those taking blood-thinning (anticoagulating) medicines such as Marevan (Warfarin) and who are doing the regular blood test control, called INR.

If you are undergoing treatment with anticoagulant drugs such as Marevan, you should regularly be tested with a blood test called INR.

This blood test is designed to estimate if the dose you receive is correct, but it should also prevent overdosing in which the blood would get “too thin”. This condition is dangerous and can result in internal bleeding.

12 healthy volunteers were included in a study in which they were given a correct dosage of anticoagulants for 13 weeks and adjusted to a maintenance dose with a constant and stable INR value that would prevent them from forming blood clots.

Then, they were given increasingly large daily doses of vitamin K from 50 mcg. to 500 mcg. during the course of one week. Not until the dose reached 150 mcg. of vitamin K a day taken as a dietary supplement, was any effect on INR observed. Even at this dose, INR was only affected in 3 out of the 12 trial subjects.

When the trial subjects were given food that is particularly rich in vitamin K, i.e. broccoli and spinach, there was no clinically relevant effect on INR because the effect was so transient, and the authors suggest that the reason might be a poor bioavailability of the vegetables. This may be surprising, as kale, spinach, and broccoli can contain up to 400 mcg. of vitamin K per 100 g.

Doses of 100 mcg. vitamin K as an easily absorbable dietary supplement had no effect on INR.

If this study on healthy, young trial subjects can be repeated with the same result on patients with a predisposition to forming blood clots, it would make life significantly easier on a great number of people who every day stare in despair at the long list of foods containing vitamin K that they are not allowed to eat while taking Marevan.

By: Vitality Council

Schurgers LJ, Shearer MJ, et al: Effect of Vitamin K Intake on the Stability of Oral Anticoagulant Treatment. Dose-Response Relationships in Healthy Subjects. Blood 2004;104(9):2682-2689.

Vitamin K, Research references

January 1999

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2. Binkley, NC, Suttie, W. Vitamin K nutrition and osteoporosis. J Nutr 125: 1812-1821, 1995.
3. Bottaro G, Fichera A, Ricca O, et al. Effect of the therapy with vitamin K on coagulation factors in
4. celiac disease in children. Pediatr Med Chir 8; 4:551-54, 1986.
5. Ferland, G., Sadowski, JA., O’Brien, ME. Dietary induced subclinical vitamin K deficiency in normal human subjects. J Clin Invest 91: 1761-1768, 1993.
6. Frick PG, Riedler G, Brogli H. Dose response and minimal daily requirement for vitamin K in man. J Appl Physiol 23: 387-389, 1967.
7. Jones DY, Koonsvitsky BP, Ebert ML et al. Vitamin K status of free-living subjects consuming olestra. Am J Clin Nutr 53: 943-946, 1991.
8. Knapen MHJ, Hamuly’ak K, Vermeer C. The effect of vitamin K supplementation on circulating osteocalcin (bone Gla protein) and urinary calcium excretion. Ann Int Med 111: 1001-1005, 1989.
9. Olson RE. The function and metabolism of vitamin K. Ann Rev Nutr 4: 281-327, 1984.
10. Price PA. Role of vitamin K-dependent proteins in bone metabolism. Ann Rev Nutri 8: 565-583, 1988.
11. Sadowski JA, Hood SJ, Dallal GE, Garry PJ. Phylloquinone in plasma from elderly and young adults. factors influencing its concentration. Am J Clin Nutr 50: 100-108, 1989.
12. Suttie, JW. Vitamin K. In: Present knowledge in nutrition. 7th edn. Washington DC: International Life Sciences Press. p 137-45, 1996.


Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr., Michael T. Murrey & Melvyn R. Werbach.