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Vitamin K2 Supplements May Slow Age-Related Stiffening of the Arteries

Arterial stiffness occurs as a consequence of biological aging and arteriosclerosis and is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events.  A recent study suggests that long-term supplementation of vitamin K2 may slow age-related stiffening of the artery walls in women.

Participants in the study included 244 post-menopausal women who took either 180 micrograms of vitamin K2 daily or a placebo for three years. Of that original group, 227 women finished the study. The researchers measured cardiovascular effects using pulse wave velocity and ultrasounds.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted decreases in pulse wave velocity and stiffness in the vitamin K2 group. They also noted improved elastic properties of the carotid artery in women who had higher stiffness at the beginning of the study.

Additionally, the researchers noted a 50% reduction in desphospho-uncarboxylated matrix Gla-protein (dp-usMCP), which is a marker of vitamin K status and has also been linked with vascular stiffening. These benefits were noted one year into the study and continued throughout the length of the study.

Researchers from Maastricht University Holding in The Netherlands conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 19, 2015 in Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

Previous studies have linked vitamin K to bone health, cardiovascular health and 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 about 90% of the vitamin K consumption in a western diet.

Vitamin K2 is harder to come by 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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