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Statins May Contribute to Heart Problems by Depleting Vitamin K2 Levels

Approximately 25% of American adults take statins with the hope of lowering cholesterol and improving heart health, but the medications have been found to have their own negative side effects. A recent study suggests that one such side effect may be inhibition of vitamin K2, which in turn might lead to serious negative effects on the heart and blood vessels.

The researchers found that statins inhibit the synthesis of vitamin K2, which is necessary for the activation of matrix Gla protein (MGP). MGP binds to calcium and protects blood vessels from calcification, but it can only do that when adequate levels of vitamin K2 are present. This means that statins may actually contribute to the hardening of the arteries known as atherosclerosis and contribute to serious heart problems.

The researchers suggest that people on statins should also be taking vitamin K2 supplements to compensate for the deficit.

Researchers from Kinjo Gakuin University in Japan conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 6, 2015 in Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology.

Previous studies have linked vitamin K to bone and cardiovascular health, as well as a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Vitamin K comes in two main forms: K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinones). Vitamin K1 is found in green leafy vegetables and makes up approximately 90% of the vitamin K consumption in a western diet.

Vitamin K2 is harder attain from food sources and therefore makes up only 10% of consumption. It is most common in fermented foods such as cheese but can also be found in meat and soybeans. Both vitamin K1 and K2 are also available in supplement form.
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