Does a deficiency of vitamin K play a role in Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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These two diseases can be very painful and debilitating. Maybe your Aunt or someone you know and love has twisted fingers, swollen with inflammation and pain. RA and OA are not fun.

By and large, past thinking around the development of osteoarthritis has been “wear and tear” and the ageing process. However, we now have evidence that vitamin K2 supplementation reduces rheumatoid arthritis (RA) inflammation by lowering CRP levels. CRP (C Reactive Protein) is a marker in the blood of inflammation. This can be measured in a routine blood test. I would also always recommend taking a high dose of Curcumin daily as an anti-inflammatory. 

Very few westerners eat fermented foods today.   Insufficient vitamin K2 can result in abnormal cartilage and bone mineralisation. Supplementation, in my view, is essential. (11)

Another study illustrates my point about the effectiveness of vitamin K2 in RA (rheumatoid arthritis).  Vitamin K2 may induce apoptosis  (necessary programmed cell death, which is what you want) in rheumatoid arthritis synovial cells. In a cross-sectional study, the group given 100 (mcg) of  Vitamin K2-MK7 had a significant reduction in disease activity score and improved biochemical markers (ESR, CRP, and matrix metalloproteinase) after only three months.  This is evidence of reduction of the ravages of RA after only three months of taking 100mcg per day of Vitamin K2. I strongly encourage you to read this study. (12)

Patients with CKD (Chronic Kidney disease) have low vitamin K2 status. Who knew?

Your kidneys filter all the fluids that pass through your body, clearing out all the toxins that get passed out of your body in the form of urine. Your kidneys balance your minerals, control your blood pressure, message the bone marrow to make red blood cells, store calcium and phosphorus, and keep the acid alkaline balance in your body. Did you have any idea how hard and varied your kidneys workload is? Various health problems can destroy kidney tissue and function, causing Chronic Kidney disease. (CKD)

Evidence in the literature… In this paper from 2019, the link between CKD and vitamin K status is demonstrated. “Accumulating evidence indicates that chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients suffer from vitamin K deficiency, suggesting that this represents a population at risk for the biological consequences of poor vitamin K status.” (13) (14)

What dose of Vitamin K2 is recommended? Well, in this instance, higher is better.  We suggest between 120 and 360 mcg per day.

According to Kidney-international.org, cardiovascular disease underlies 50% of all deaths in CKD patients. Cardiovascular mortality is several times higher in CKD patients than in the ordinary public. A recent clinical trial demonstrated that an 8–week supplementation with vitamin K2 in hemodialysis patients reduced calcification markers in a linear and dose-dependent fashion, with the greatest benefits being seen at doses of roughly 360 mcg MK-7 daily. Check if your supplement has a high enough dose.  Vitamin K2 has no known toxicity. Therefore it is a very safe vitamin to supplement. (15)

As with calcification in the blood vessels, vitamin K2 supplementation is a safe approach to prevent this calcification of the soft tissues, including the kidneys. (16)

There is even a beneficial role of Vitamin K for Diabetics and insulin sensitivity.

This paper in the journal “Science Direct” recognises that micronutrients are gaining acceptance as an important nutritional therapy for the prevention and health management of diabetes and its associated health risks.

Impaired insulin sensitivity and glucose intolerance play a significant role in the development of diabetes.

Studies have suggested that vitamin K-dependent protein (osteocalcin) and regulation of CRP levels, anti-inflammatory properties, and lipid-lowering effects may mediate the beneficial function of vitamin K in insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. (17)

If there is one disease, we would all want to avoid it is Cancer.  

This scientific paper, titled  “Research progress on the anticancer effects of vitamin K2”, suggests that Vitamin K2 exerts anti-cancer effects on a number of different cell lines. There have been several case reports of Vitamin K2 being used as an antitumor agent. I bet your doctor has never told you this. A study on VK2 treatment of MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome), a rare type of blood cancer, and post-MDS acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) revealed that Vitamin K2 could significantly reduce blastic cell numbers in the bone marrow and/or peripheral blood. 

This publication has illustrated the mechanisms by which there is a synergistic effect of Vitamin K2 combined with Chemotherapeutics.  It found that in several cases, this combination produced stronger effects than the use of either protocol alone. (18)

As nutritional therapists, we get asked whether it’s ok to take this or that nutrient together with cancer treatments. It has been shown that sometimes nutrients, together with chemotherapy, have been seen to improve the efficacy of chemotherapy.  This is both convenient and affordable in comparison to most prescription drugs and puts the power to improve your health in your hands. 

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in Ireland - Vitamin K has been shown to be supportive.

Approximately 1032 men and 787 women are diagnosed with a colorectal tumour each year. 

In this study, Vitamins K2, K3 and K5 suppressed the proliferation of colon 26 cells in a dose-dependent manner. Using intravenous Vitamin K2, the results suggest that vitamins K2, K3 and K5 exerted effective antitumor effects on colorectal cancer by inducing apoptotic death of tumour cells, suggesting that these K vitamins may be promising agents for the treatment of patients with CRC.(19)

Liver Cancer.  Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer. It occurs most often in people with chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis, which could have been caused by hepatitis B or C infections.

In this study, Vitamin K2 was added to the drinking water of mice who had HCC. Treatment with Vitamins K2, K3, and K5,  markedly inhibited the growth of HCC tumours. (20)

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in Ireland.

One in eight men in Ireland will be affected by the disease, and about 3,665 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer here every year. However, prostate cancer also has one of the best survival rates of all cancers. Anti-cancer effects of Vitamin K2 have been observed in various cancer cell lines, including prostate cancer. 

A study enrolled males and correlated the biomarker of low K2 levels with Prostate cancer. Low levels of Vitamin K2 were associated with high levels of prostate cancer. (21) (22)

Now that you know there are so many advantages of taking Vitamin K2, I am sure you see the enormous benefits of supplementing an excellent quality natural Vitamin K2.  I personally take between 240-360 mcg in the K2 (menaquinone form) every day. My express wish is that you take the responsible steps on your journey to living a longer, healthier and happier life.

Nothing written in this article is intended to or should replace the advice by your medical doctor. 

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