According to a new study published Sunday in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers demonstrated that there is a 3.3 times greater risk heart enlargement in healthy teens who consumed the least vitamin K1. This form of vitamin K is predominantly found in green leafy vegetables such as, spinach, cabbage, and lettuce.

Interestingly, approximately 10% of the teens have some degree of left ventricular hypertrophy according to the research team. This is the first study exploring associations between vitamin K, heart function, and structure in young healthy individuals. These results suggest early interventions to ensure adequate vitamin K1 in young people could improve cardiovascular development as well as reduce future cardiovascular disease risk.

This study consisted of 766 teens ages 14 to 18 years of age. They found that those who consumed the least amount of vitamin K1 had an increased overall size and thickness of the left ventricle.

In addition, only 1/4 of the teens in this study met the current adequate intake levels of the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. There is also evidence that vitamin K levels are lower in obese and overweight children.

Vitamin K plays a significant role in blood clotting, cardiovascular health, and optimal bone health. It is essential for the production of osteocalcin.

The Framingham Offspring Cohort Study also found an association between higher vitamin K1 levels and lower lipid levels in the blood.

Vitamin K should be met with the intake of K1 from food sources and supplementation since some K1 will convert to K2-MK-4. There has been a lot of hype and promotion of K2 (MK-7) but keep in mind there are no proprietary forms of K1 and K2 (MK-4). Vitamin K2 (MK-7) does convert to K2 (MK-4).

There is also no evidence for an ideal ratio between D and K1 or K2. The bottom line is we need to optimize each of these based on testing.

Most people I find need anywhere form 5,000-10,000 IUs/day of vitamin D and about 1-2 mg of K1 since most people do not eat enough vegetables as we have seen in this study to get enough K. This is also the amount that carboxylates osteocalcin. This was a patient’s lab report I received back on Wednesday.

As you can see the patient has a vitamin K insufficiency. I never give vitamin D without vitamin K. About 70% of my patients have vitamin K insufficiencies. It seems to be as prevalent as magnesium deficiency. In addition, I have personally have found vitamin K1 supplementation to be much more successful at lowering undercarboxylated osteocalcin levels than K2 (MK-7).

It makes sense to supplement with all three forms of vitamin K [K1, K2(MK-4, and MK-7)] and not get hung up on the marketing hype of one proprietary form.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Mary K Douthit, Mary Ellen Fain, Joshua T Nguyen, Celestine F Williams, Allison H Jasti, Bernard Gutin, Norman K Pollock. Phylloquinone Intake Is Associated with Cardiac Structure and Function in Adolescents. The Journal of Nutrition, 2017; jn253666 DOI: 10.3945/jn.117.253666

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