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Vitamin K Important for Cardiovascular Health & Kidney Stone Prevention

Optimal levels of vitamin K help keep calcium from building up excess amounts in the blood and along artery walls. It should be no surprise, therefore, that vitamin K would prevent kidney stones and enhance artery wall flexibility.

The effect of vitamin K2 on circulation was highlighted in this reecent study on kidney transplant patients.

Prior studies have shown as many as 80 percent of those who undergo kidney transplant are low in vitamin K, which increases chances of hardening of the arteries and heart problems. This recent study measured changes in artery flexibility in 60 people who took vitamin K2 supplements after a kidney transplant.

After eight weeks of taking 360 mcg of vitamin K2 as menaquinone-7 per day, doctors measured both central and peripheral blood pressure over 24 hours and found arterial stiffness had improved significantly. Also, vitamin K levels had normalized in 55 percent of participants. Discussing the findings, doctors said, "The results in this trial are staggering, especially as the statistically significant effect was seen very quickly."

(Reference: Journal of the American Society of Hypertension; 2017, Vol. 11, No. 9, Published Online)

This next study looked at the role vitamin K plays in preventing kidney stones.

Good levels of vitamin K help keep calcium from building up excess amounts in the blood and along artery walls. Doctors thought chances for developing kidney stones would increase when vitamin K levels are low.

In this study of 1,748 men and women, doctors measured levels of a protein that inhibits calcium buildup. The protein is called "matrix gla protein" or MGP. To work, to inhibit calcium buildup, it needs vitamin K for activation. 

One-third of the participants began the study with high levels of inactive MGP. Over the 12-year follow-up period, those with the highest levels of inactive MGP were 31 percent more likely to have developed kidney stones than those with lower inactive MGP levels. In other words, the more active MGP present (i.e. activated by vitamin K), the lower the incidence of kidney stones.

The findings suggest that increasing vitamin K in the diet or adding vitamin K supplements may help keep kidney stones from forming.

(Reference: Nephrology, Dialysis, Transplantation; March, 2017, Published Online)

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