Greater Vitamin K Intake Associated With Lower Diabetes Risk

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May 11, 2010

Greater vitamin K intake associated with lower diabetes risk

Greater vitamin K intake associated with lower diabetes risk

A study conducted in the Netherlands, reported online on April 27, 2010 in the journal Diabetes Care has found an association between the intake of both vitamin K1 and K2 with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at University Medical Center Utrecht analyzed data from 38,094 Dutch participants in the EPIC study cohort who were between the ages of 20 and 70 upon enrollment.  Dietary questionnaire responses were analyzed for intake of phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and menaquinones (vitamin K2). 

Vitamin K1 intake among the study participants averaged 200 micrograms per day and vitamin K2 intake averaged 31 micrograms per day.  Over a median follow-up period of 10.3 years, 918 cases of type 2 diabetes were diagnosed.  Adjusted analysis of the data uncovered a 19 percent lower risk of developing diabetes in men and women whose vitamin K1 intake was among the highest 25 percent of subjects compared with those whose intake was among the lowest fourth.

A linear inverse relationship was observed between vitamin K2 and the development of diabetes.  For each 10 microgram increment increase in intake, a 7 percent reduction in risk was noted.  Greater consumption of vitamin K2 was also associated with improved blood lipids and reduced levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.

The study is the first to investigate the relationship between type 2 diabetes and vitamin K intake. The authors of the report remark that vitamin K could lower diabetes risk via an influence on calcium metabolism, yet adjusting for calcium and vitamin D intake did not affect the associations uncovered in the current research. A reduction in inflammation secondary to greater vitamin K intake, which has been suggested by the findings of in vitro and observational studies, could also improve insulin sensitivity and lower diabetes risk.

"The findings of this study show that both phylloquinone and menaquinones intake may be associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes," the authors conclude. "For phylloquinone intake, these risk reductions occurred at higher levels of intake, while for menaquinones a linear inverse association was observed."

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Health Concern


Type 1 diabetics will need to be on insulin therapy for life, although the supplements mentioned in this section may help offset some of the complications caused by diabetes (e.g., reduced antioxidant capacity and glycation) as well enhance glucose metabolism. Type 2 diabetics can counteract the progression of their disease by improving insulin sensitivity, enhancing glucose metabolism, and attempting to mitigate the complications of diabetes.

Several preclinical studies evaluated vitamin C’s role during mild oxidative stress. The aqueous humor of the eye provides surrounding tissues with a source of vitamin C. Since animal studies have shown that glucose inhibits vitamin C uptake, this protective mechanism may be impaired in diabetes (Corti A et al 2004). Supplementation with antioxidant vitamins C and E plays an important role in improving eye health (Peponis V et al 2004). High vitamin C intake depresses glycation, which has important implications for slowing diabetes progression and aging (Krone CA et al 2004).

Vitamin C also has a role in reducing the risk of other diabetic complications. In one clinical study, vitamin C significantly increased blood flow and decreased inflammation in patients with both diabetes and coronary artery disease (Antoniades C et al 2004). Three studies suggest that vitamin C, along with a combination of vitamins and minerals (Farvid MS et al 2004), reduces blood pressure in people with diabetes (Mullan BA et al 2002) and increases blood vessel elasticity and blood flow (Mullan BA et al 2004).

Vitamin E has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (Montonen J et al 2004). One double-blind trial found a reduction in the risk of cardiac autonomic neuropathy, or damage to the nerves that supply the heart, which is a complication of diabetes (Manzella D et al 2001). Additional evidence documented benefits for diabetic peripheral neuropathy (Tutuncu NB et al 1998), blood sugar control (Kahler W et al 1993; Paolisso G et al 1993a,b, Paolisso G et al 1994), and cataract prevention (Paolisso G et al 1993a,b; Paolisso G et al 1994; Seddon JM et al 1994). In addition, vitamin E enhances sensitivity to insulin in type 2 diabetics (Paolisso G et al 1993a,b).

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