Life Extension Magazine®

Veins and arteries that can be boosted by vitamin K

In The News: April 2017

Vitamin K reduces arterial stiffness; vitamin E protects against pneumonia; boosting glutathione could reduce age-related diseases; surgeon who specializes is best one for the job; nicotinamide riboside improves muscular dystrophy.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023. Written by: Life Extension Editorial Staff.

Vitamin K Found to Reduce Arterial Stiffness

A new study has gone a long way in helping to confirm the observed link between vitamin K intake and heart health.*

The research, published in the journal Thrombosis and Haemostasis, found that a daily 180 mcg dose of the MK-7 version of K2 reduced arterial stiffness in healthy postmenopausal women over the course of the three-year study. An association was also found with improved vascular elasticity.

Lead researcher Cees Vermeer of the Netherlands’ Maastricht University Holding remarked that the study is the first of its kind. “Our data demonstrated that a nutritional dose of vitamin K in fact improves cardiovascular outcomes,” he said.

Vermeer and his colleagues employed 244 subjects, roughly half of which were given MK-7 for three years, while the other half took a placebo. Advanced ultrasound technology was used to assess arterial thickness and stiffness. Women who had higher stiffness measures at baseline were seen to have improved carotid artery elasticity over time.

Vitamin K2 protects against soft tissue calcification, which is a factor involved in tissue “stiffening” that occurs with normal aging. This may be the first study to show a reversal of these clinical measures of arterial stiffness using this long-acting form of vitamin K2.

Editor’s Note: Cardiologist Dr. Dennis Goodman, director of Integrative Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, believes this study could potentially have a dramatic impact on the way we currently view prevention in regard to cardiovascular health. “Further clinical studies will be important to confirm these exciting findings,” he says.


* Thromb Haemost. 2015 May:113(5):1135-44

Surprising Risk of Hospital Patients Given Antibiotics

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A study published online by JAMA Internal Medicine has found that hospital patients have an increased risk of infection by Clostridium difficile if the previous occupant of the bed they’re in was given antibiotics.1

C. difficile is a bacterium that commonly causes diarrhea in hospital patients, and is responsible for about 27,000 deaths a year in the US. The bacterium’s spores can stubbornly survive for months in a hospital setting, and antibiotics can increase patients’ susceptibility.

Researchers looked at patients of four New York City hospitals from 2010 to 2015. They zeroed in on patients who had spent at least 48 hours in the first bed they were assigned to after being admitted. The immediately previous patients in those beds had to have spent at least 24 hours there, and had to have left less than a week before the new occupants. It was found that risk of C. difficile infection was 0.72% if the previous bed occupant received antibiotics, compared to 0.43% if the prior occupant had not been given antibiotics.

Editor’s Note: Life Extension® has long recognized the link between poor hospital hygiene practices and in-patient transmission of potentially deadly microorganisms in the healthcare setting. Transmission of microorganisms to hospitalized patients can occur through direct contact with contaminated equipment or as a result of poor nursing technique. For example, despite routine cleaning practices, potentially deadly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other dangerous pathogens have been recovered from a range of surfaces in hospitals, including door handles, computer keyboards, soap dispensers, and sink faucets.2,3

Routine cleaning methods may not reliably disinfect the contaminated hospital environment. Although use of disinfectants has been recommended, the available data suggest inconsistent evidence of benefit, likely as a consequence of contamination of detergent and/or inadequate strength of disinfectant.4 Consistent decontamination in the hospital setting should include aggressive hand-washing by nurses and other patient caregivers, and the use of concentrated solutions of hypochlorite (i.e., bleach) as well as full-strength detergent in the hospital environment.

  1. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(12):1801-8.
  2. J Hosp Infect. 2004;57(1):31-7.
  3. J Hosp Infect. 2001;49(2):109-16.
  4. Am J Infect Control. 2004;32(2):84-9.

Boosting Glutathione May Reduce Age-Related Diseases

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Aging causes a decline in glutathione that leaves people more susceptible to common health problems.

New research shows N-acetyl-cysteine could be effective in helping maintain healthy levels of glutathione.*

High doses of N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) are often used in medical emergencies to detoxify patients who have ingested poisonous substances. Researchers believe NAC could also be used at low doses to block the age-related loss of glutathione, which fights commonly encountered toxins.

As it relates to detoxification, insufficient glutathione is linked to common causes of death: cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Tory Hagen, lead researcher of the study conducted at Oregon State University, commented, “We’ve known for some time of the importance of glutathione as a strong antioxidant. What this study pointed out was the way cells from younger animals are far more resistant to stress than older animals. In young animal cells, stress doesn’t cause such a rapid loss of glutathione. The cells from older animals, on the other hand, were quickly depleted of glutathione and died twice as fast when subjected to stress.”

The study found that pretreatment with NAC raised glutathione in older cells and helped offset cell death.

Editor’s Note: “I’m optimistic there could be a role for this compound in preventing the increased toxicity we face with aging, as our abilities to deal with toxins decline,” Hagen elaborated. “We might be able to improve the metabolic resilience that we’re naturally losing with age.”


* Redox Biol. 2016 Dec;10:45-52.

Nicotinamide Riboside Shows Promise for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

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Research reported in Science Translational Medicine reveals a potential benefit for nicotinamide riboside (NR), a precursor of NAD+, in Duchenne muscular dystrophy.*

People with Duchenne muscular dystrophy are unable to produce a protein known as dystrophin that is needed by the cells of the muscles. The lack of dystrophin causes an inflammatory response that destroys muscle tissue. John Auwerx and colleagues demonstrated that this inflammation causes a second cycle of events inside the cells that leads to a shortage of NAD+. This, in turn, weakens the muscles, since NAD+ acts as a fuel for the mitochondria (the cells’ power plants). These dysfunctional mitochondria additionally contribute to the inflammation that causes muscle loss.

In a genetically modified roundworm model of muscular dystrophy, exposure to nicotinamide riboside prevented the development of disease symptoms. In a mouse model of the disease, muscular inflammation was lower and existing lesions reduced in association with nicotinamide riboside supplementation.

Editor’s Note: “We have good reason to think that humans will also respond to this treatment and that we’ll be able to reduce inflammation,” Dr. Auwerx predicted. “But we don’t know to what extent. It’s important to remember that we’re not going after the primary cause of the disease, dystrophin deficiency. Regardless, it would still be quite an accomplishment if we can prolong the patient’s life by several years and increase their comfort.”


*Sci Transl Med. 2016 Oct 19;8(361):361ra139.

Vitamin E Could Help Protect Older Men from Pneumonia

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An article in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging reported a protective role for vitamin E against pneumonia in older men.*

Dr. Harri Hemilä analyzed data from the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene (ATBC) Cancer Prevention Study conducted in Finland from 1985-1993. The trial included 29,133 men between the ages of 50 to 69 years who smoked at least five cigarettes daily upon enrollment. Participants received vitamin E, beta carotene, both supplements, or a placebo for five to eight years.

The current study was limited to 7,469 ATBC participants who started smoking at age 21 or older. Among this group, supplementation with vitamin E was associated with a 35% lower risk of developing pneumonia in comparison with those who did not receive the vitamin. Light smokers who engaged in exercise had a 69% lower risk compared with unsupplemented members of this subgroup.

Editor’s Note: Among the one-third of the current study’s population who quit smoking for a median of two years, there was a 72% lower risk of pneumonia in association with vitamin E supplementation. In this group, exercisers who received vitamin E experienced an 81% lower pneumonia risk.


* Clin Interv Aging. 2016 Oct 3;11:1379-1385.

Surgeon Who Specializes Could be Best for the Job

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A new retrospective analysis shows that the best surgeon for the job is one who specializes in that particular operation.*

More than 695,000 operations performed by 25,152 surgeons were analyzed for the study, published in the July 2016 issue of The BMJ. Researchers focused on eight complex cardiovascular and cancer surgical procedures, which, pre-study, had mortality rates of from 1% to 7%.

For six of the eight types of procedures, patients were found to have a lower risk of dying when that particular operation made up a large proportion of overall operations done by the surgeon.

The study authors, using the example of heart valve replacement, say their results suggest that a doctor who performs that procedure and no other 20 times may end up with better outcomes than a surgeon who does 40 heart valve replacements among a mix of 60 other types of procedures.

Editor’s Note: The question of why mortality rates are lower for operations performed by more specialized surgeons was not considered by the study. Researcher and Harvard University fellow Nikhil Sahni said, “Doctors may be better able to keep abreast of evolving science and surgical techniques as they specialize. Or perhaps specialists avoid the distraction that comes from switching between multiple procedures.”


*BMJ. 2016 Jul 21;354:i3571.