Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Jan 2020

Vitamin K Promotes Healthy Blood Sugar Metabolism

A recent study found that vitamin K can reduce the risk of developing type II diabetes by 51% and inhibit metabolic syndrome.

Scientifically reviewed by:  Dr. Carol Campi, RN, DC, on January 2020. Written By Suzanne Schiff.

There’s no cure for type II diabetes. But there is new hope for the 21 million adults living with it.1

Recent research has shown that vitamin K plays an important role in glucose metabolism. That can help diabetics avoid the high blood sugar that damages the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart.

Vitamin K may also help prevent the onset of type II diabetes.2

Vitamin K and Risk of Type II Diabetes

Foods rick in vitamin K

Vitamin K is best known for helping blood properly clot, maintaining bone density, and preventing vascular calcifications.2,4-7

But its benefits go far beyond that.2,8,9

Several large-scale studies have analyzed the association between vitamin K and type II diabetes, examining more than 40,000 people in total.2,3,10,11

Together, these studies show that increased intake of vitamin K—as either K1 (phylloquinone) or K2 (menaquinone)—is linked to a reduced risk of developing type II diabetes.2,3,10

In one study of older adults, subjects who increased their dietary vitamin K intake had a 51% reduction in their risk for developing diabetes, compared with those who decreased or failed to change their vitamin K intake.3

The study further demonstrated a 17% reduction in the risk for type II diabetes for each additional intake of 100 mcg/day of vitamin K1.3

And a 2018 study revealed that people with type II diabetes had blood vitamin K levels 63.4% lower than non-diabetic patients of the same age.11

Lower levels of vitamin K are linked to greater insulin resistance, the core metabolic defect in type II diabetes.11

Vitamin K Improves Glucose Metabolism

Recent studies show that supplementing with vitamin K (either as K1 or K2) can directly reduce the risk of type II diabetes. Among the results:

  • In a study of 355 adults 60-80 years old, 500 mcg/day of K1 for three years led to significant reductions in insulin resistance and blood insulin levels in men.12

  • A study of 82 women (mean age: 40 years) with prediabetes (a condition often indicative of poor insulin sensitivity, that can progress to type II diabetes) showed that 1,000 mcg/day of K1 resulted in significant increases in insulin sensitivity and reductions in insulin levels in just four weeks.13

  • In a four-week study of 33 healthy young men (median age 29), supplementation with vitamin K2 led to increased insulin sensitivity.14

Research shows that both forms of the vitamin, K1 and K2, have a positive impact on glucose metabolism, insulin resistance, and other metabolic functions. These results hold out great promise for people with diabetes and those at risk of developing it.

How It Works

A study published in 2018 sheds further light on how vitamin K improves glucose metabolism.8

Dutch researchers gave 214 post-menopausal women either 180 mcg/day of vitamin K2 or a placebo over a period of three years.8

As expected, they found that vitamin K activated a group of proteins called Gla proteins,8 one of which, osteocalcin, is known for their role in bone and mineral metabolism. However, Gla proteins are found throughout the body, and are instrumental in regulating metabolism.

In the group that received vitamin K, a subset who showed the largest increase in Gla protein activity, as measured by Vitamin K-dependent carboxylated osteocalcin, experienced significant reduction in abdominal fat mass, compared with other participants.8

That group also had a significant reduction in body mass index, waist and hip circumference, and waist-hip ratio. All these results translate to a reduced risk for developing metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.8

Vitamin K has also been shown to boost levels of adiponectin, a beneficial hormone that helps regulate the metabolism of sugars.2

Finally, a series of preclinical studies have indicated that vitamin K reduces activity of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB), the primary driver of inflammation in the body.15

Summary

older woman partaking in a yoga class

Type II diabetes isn’t curable, but it is preventable, given the right combination of lifestyle and nutritional choices.

There’s growing evidence that those with higher intake and blood levels of vitamin K (in the form of both K1 and K2) have substantially reduced risks of developing type II diabetes.

Studies show that people taking vitamin K have improved glucose metabolism, improved insulin sensitivity, and lower body fat, all of which protect against type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Increasing vitamin K can also benefit those who already have diabetes, by keeping damaging high blood sugar under control.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

References

  1. Bullard KM, Cowie CC, Lessem SE, et al. Prevalence of Diagnosed Diabetes in Adults by Diabetes Type - United States, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018 Mar 30;67(12):359-61.
  2. Bourron O, Phan F. Vitamin K: a nutrient which plays a little-known role in glucose metabolism. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2019 Mar;22(2):174-81.
  3. Ibarrola-Jurado N, Salas-Salvado J, Martinez-Gonzalez MA, et al. Dietary phylloquinone intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in elderly subjects at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Nov;96(5):1113-8.
  4. Gast GC, de Roos NM, Sluijs I, et al. A high menaquinone intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Sep;19(7):504-10.
  5. Available at: http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2015/CE/CE_Turning-To-Stone/Page-01. Accessed November 10, 2016.
  6. Villa JKD, Diaz MAN, Pizziolo VR, et al. Effect of vitamin K in bone metabolism and vascular calcification: A review of mechanisms of action and evidences. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Dec 12;57(18):3959-70.
  7. Komai M, Shirakawa H. [Vitamin K metabolism. Menaquinone-4 (MK-4) formation from ingested VK analogues and its potent relation to bone function]. Clin Calcium. 2007 Nov;17(11):1663-72.
  8. Knapen MHJ, Jardon KM, Vermeer C. Vitamin K-induced effects on body fat and weight: results from a 3-year vitamin K2 intervention study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018 Jan;72(1):136-41.
  9. Dam V, Dalmeijer GW, Vermeer C, et al. Association Between Vitamin K and the Metabolic Syndrome: A 10-Year Follow-Up Study in Adults. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Jun;100(6):2472-9.
  10. Beulens JW, van der AD, Grobbee DE, et al. Dietary phylloquinone and menaquinones intakes and risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2010 Aug;33(8):1699-705.
  11. Dihingia A, Ozah D, Ghosh S, et al. Vitamin K1 inversely correlates with glycemia and insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and positively regulates SIRT1/AMPK pathway of glucose metabolism in liver of T2D mice and hepatocytes cultured in high glucose. J Nutr Biochem. 2018 Feb;52:103-14.
  12. Yoshida M, Jacques PF, Meigs JB, et al. Effect of vitamin K supplementation on insulin resistance in older men and women. Diabetes Care. 2008 Nov;31(11):2092-6.
  13. Rasekhi H, Karandish M, Jalali MT, et al. Phylloquinone supplementation improves glycemic status independent of the effects of adiponectin levels in premonopause women with prediabetes: a double-blind randomized controlled clinical trial. J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2015;14(1):1.
  14. Choi HJ, Yu J, Choi H, et al. Vitamin K2 supplementation improves insulin sensitivity via osteocalcin metabolism: a placebo-controlled trial. Diabetes Care. 2011 Sep;34(9):e147.
  15. Dihingia A, Ozah D, Baruah PK, et al. Prophylactic role of vitamin K supplementation on vascular inflammation in type 2 diabetes by regulating the NF-kappaB/Nrf2 pathway via activating Gla proteins. Food Funct. 2018 Jan 24;9(1):450-62.

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