RSSLow vitamin K2 as bad for you as smoking

Posted on Tue, 18 Oct 16

Low vitamin K2 as bad for you as smoking

A new analysis looking at risk factors for cardiovascular disease related deaths has found that vitamin K2 deficiency is equivalent to smoking and high blood pressure. 

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of premature death yet risk factors remain poorly understood. The role of dietary cholesterol, various medications and the optimal diet for risk-reduction remain hotly debated. A relatively new factor that might help explain risk is vitamin K deficiency. 

Vitamin K, once thought to simply play a role in blood clotting, is now known to play a much wider role in your health [1]. One particularly important area is heart health, with several studies linking higher vitamin K intakes to lower calcification or stiffening of arteries and blood vessels and reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and related deaths [2]. 

To examine the contribution of low vitamin K to heart disease risk a research group looked at data from 169-countries, looking for associations between early death from cardiovascular disease and estimated vitamin K intakes as well as other risk factors including insufficient physical activity, tobacco, and gender [3]. 

“Vitamin K2 was inversely correlated with early cardiovascular death to the same degree that tobacco use was positively correlated,” they found. Attributable risk for low vitamin K2 (6.95%) was similar to tobacco (6.87%), and close to high blood pressure (9.01%), air pollution (9.15%), poverty (7.66%), and male gender (6.13%). This finding adds to evidence that vitamin K2 plays an important role in preventing death from cardiovascular disease. 

The recommended intake for vitamin K has been proposed to be 90 µg per day for women and 120 µg per day for men, but this is based on average dietary intakes and may be inadequate [4]. An optimal level is not yet known. Vitamin K1 is found in green vegetables and oils such as olive oil, while K2 is found in fermented foods with small amounts in animal foods.

“Because of these findings, health regulatory agencies of countries should more inclusively measure vitamin K2 levels in foods and should designate levels for adequate intakes for vitamin K2,” commented the study investigators. ‘”In wealthy countries, given the health concerns with excessive meat, dairy, and eggs (e.g. obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer), vitamin K2 should be optimally boosted from fermented plants containing long chain menaquinones rather than from animal products. Likewise, for people in poor countries, increasing the intake of fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, and natto would be the most cost-effective and healthful way to boost vitamin K2 to adequate levels.”


  1. Booth SL. Roles for vitamin K beyond coagulation. Annu Rev Nutr. 2009;29:89-110.
  2. DiNicolantonio JJ, Bhutani J, O'Keefe JH. The health benefits of vitamin K. Open Heart. 2015 Oct 6;2(1):e000300.
  3. Cundiff DK, Agutter PS. Cardiovascular Disease Death Before Age 65 in 168 Countries Correlated Statistically with Biometrics, Socioeconomic Status, Tobacco, Gender, Exercise, Macronutrients, and Vitamin K. Cureus. 2016 Aug 24;8(8):e748.
  4. Shearer MJ, Fu X, Booth SL. Vitamin K nutrition, metabolism, and requirements: current concepts and future research. Adv Nutr. 2012 Mar 1;3(2):182-95.

Tags: Vitamin K, Vitamin K2, Heart Disease, Smoking

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