Nav: Home

Study appears first in the nation to examine the impact of vitamin K supplements on the cardiovascul

October 31, 2016

AUGUSTA, Ga. (Oct. 31, 2016) - Researchers want to know whether a vitamin K supplement is an effective, inexpensive way to help reduce the cardiovascular risk of obese children.

They believe the vitamin, found in green leafy vegetables and made by the bacteria in our gut when we eat meat or cheese, may help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce lipid levels in the blood.

Impaired insulin sensitivity, high blood levels of lipids and calcium, along with obesity are major risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, said Dr. Norman Pollock, bone biologist at the Georgia Prevention Institute at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

In what appears to be the first study of its kind in the United States, MCG researchers are enrolling 60, 8-17-year-olds with higher fasting glucose levels, a sign of an already increased diabetes risk, in an eight-week study where half will get supplements of the more potent version of the vitamin, called K2, while the remainder get placebo.

"It's an obscure vitamin that most of us probably don't get enough of," Pollock said. "We hope it will be a safe alternative for these children and potentially others to ensure their cardiovascular health."

They'll measure the outcome by looking at markers of cardiovascular health typically analyzed in adults, such as blood levels of triglycerides, good and bad cholesterol, as well as insulin production and sensitivity, said Pollock, principal investigator on the project that was recently funded by the American Heart Association.

They think the vitamin will improve the numbers and the risk for the young individuals, while diet and exercise efforts may fail or have their own issues.

"Restricting caloric intake or increasing activity is hard to do for an adult, and trying to explain the importance to a child is even more difficult," Pollock said. "Restricting a child's diet who is growing is another fuzzy line, and there also are concerns about long-term impact on children, like development of eating disorders."

While still in the early stages of exploring the potential of vitamin K supplementation, Pollock has early evidence that vitamin K levels tend to be lower in obese or overweight children and mounting evidence that supplementation may have some of the same benefits of exercise.

Exercise is known to increase levels of osteocalcin, which appears essential to the matrix of strong bones, and to reduce insulin sensitivity, a hallmark of diabetes and related cardiovascular risk. Human and animal studies indicate that increasing vitamin K levels do the same.

At least in mice, increasing osteocalcin activity increases insulin production by the pancreas and insulin sensitivity. A connection between osteocalcin and insulin production also has been made in humans, and decreased levels have been reported in type 2 diabetes patients. Pollock's work has shown a link between weak bones and insulin sensitivity. Also, lower levels of vitamin K have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in adults.

Since you can't currently give osteocalcin directly, he wondered if vitamin K would yield the same cardiovascular benefit. "We need vitamin K to make osteocalcin active," Pollock said. "We think it all ties together."

Other vitamin K studies are underway in Canada and Europe. Pollock also is doing two related studies looking at the more general health impact of vitamin K supplementation on children and adults of all weights.

"We want to know who benefits most from vitamin K supplementation," Pollock said. The new studies include giving a high and lower dose of vitamin K, and Pollock notes that his preliminary studies have indicated a dose-response effect.

Another potential cardiovascular benefit could come from increased activity by the protein matrix GLA, which is found in the blood and, like osteocalcin, is vitamin K dependent. Activating matrix GLA has been shown to reduce calcium buildup inside blood vessels, a major component of classic atherosclerosis, which can begin accumulating at an early age. Matrix GLA also has a role in bone organization.

Years ago, an animal model with the protein knocked out was found to have a lethal buildup of plaque in the blood vessels; and low levels have been considered a biomarker of high cardiovascular disease risk. Others already are exploring the potential of vitamin K supplementation in patients whose clogged arteries are impacting the function of their heart or kidneys.

Vitamin K works by increasing carboxylation - a chemical reaction where a carbon is added - of both osteocalcin and matrix GLA, which makes them more active.

Vitamin K also has been shown to improve cognitive function in animal models of Alzheimer's so Pollock is developing another clinical protocol on thinking and memory. The fat-soluble vitamin is stored in fat and the liver and known for its important role in helping blood clot, particularly for those who must take a blood thinner.

Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University

Related Diabetes Articles:

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.
People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.
Diabetes, but not diabetes drug, linked to poor pregnancy outcomes
New research indicates that pregnant women with pre-gestational diabetes who take metformin are at a higher risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes -- such as major birth defects and pregnancy loss -- than the general population, but their increased risk is not due to metformin but diabetes.
New oral diabetes drug shows promise in phase 3 trial for patients with type 1 diabetes
A University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus study finds sotagliflozin helps control glucose and reduces the need for insulin in patients with type 1 diabetes.
Can continuous glucose monitoring improve diabetes control in patients with type 1 diabetes who inject insulin
Two studies in the Jan. 24/31 issue of JAMA find that use of a sensor implanted under the skin that continuously monitors glucose levels resulted in improved levels in patients with type 1 diabetes who inject insulin multiple times a day, compared to conventional treatment.
Complications of type 2 diabetes affect quality of life, care can lead to diabetes burnout
T2D Lifestyle, a national survey by Health Union of more than 400 individuals experiencing type 2 diabetes (T2D), reveals that patients not only struggle with commonly understood complications, but also numerous lesser known ones that people do not associate with diabetes.
A better way to predict diabetes
An international team of researchers has discovered a simple, accurate new way to predict which women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes after delivery.
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology: Older Americans with diabetes living longer without disability, US study shows
Older Americans with diabetes born in the 1940s are living longer and with less disability performing day to day tasks than those born 10 years earlier, according to new research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal.
Reverse your diabetes -- and you can stay diabetes-free long-term
A new study from Newcastle University, UK, has shown that people who reverse their diabetes and then keep their weight down remain free of diabetes.
More Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab