The effort is being funded in part by a so-called INTRICARE grant awarded to NattoPharma’s International Research Network by the European Union within the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie research and innovation program. Nattopharma supplies a form of the ingredient branded as MenaQ7.
Building the case for an RDI
Two review papers have been published recently under the grant, which serve to bolster the evidence package for the menaquinone-7 form of vitamin K, known as vitamin K2. Vitamin K has long been known for its role in blood coagulation, but K2 has a range of benefits in cardiovascular and bone health that go far beyond that, said Eric Anderson, senior vice president of marketing for NattoPharma.
“Vitamin K has always been accepted as the coagulation vitamin,” Anderson told NutraIngredients-USA. “We are trying to build a body of evidence to make a case for an RDI on K2 based on its other effects.”
Anderson said Nattopharma has consulted with the Council for Responsible Nutrition on the best way to build a case for getting official recognition for a recommended intake level for K2. Having that recognition means the vitamin could one day be included on Nutrition Facts panels on finished goods, which would help bolster its position in the marketplace, as well as support consumers’ health status.
Getting an RDI approval is not a straightforward process, Anderson said. It’s not like applying for a driver’s license, with clear steps, requirements and timelines. But one thing is clear: A huge preponderance of evidence will be necessary to sway the relevant health authorities, who will naturally be slow to add another nutrient to the RDI list.
“If we can continually bring the latest research forward it will bolster the case,” Anderson said.
Two papers support growing body of evidence
Two recent review papers have been published as part of the effort. In the first paper, published in the journal Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, the authors examined the link between early vascular aging in chronic kidney disease, with a focus on the role of vitamin K’s role in counteracting oxidative stress and the aging process.
The authors of the kidney disease paper said patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are characterized by an accelerated aging process, including cardiovascular complications, persistent uremic inflammation, muscle wasting, osteoporosis and frailty, preceding initiation of renal replacement therapy with dialysis or kidney transplantation. The accelerated early vascular aging (EVA) process mediated by medial vascular calcification (VC) is a hallmark of senescence (the condition or process of deterioration with age) as well as a strong predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in the CKD population.
The research team identified an accumulating body of evidence indicating that DNA damage–induced cellular senescence and "inflammaging” may largely contribute to such pathological conditions characterized by accelerated EVA.
"Growing evidence shows that nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2 (NRF2) signaling and vitamin K play a crucial role in counteracting oxidative stress, DNA damage, senescence and inflammaging, whereby NRF2 activation and vitamin K supplementation may provide a novel treatment target for EVA,” they concluded.
The second review paper, published in The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, examined the link between micro-calcification and atherosclerosis, identified the most subtle and effective imaging technique to detect micro-calcification of arterial walls that can be used to evaluate how vitamin K supplementation to preserve cardiovascular health.
“Our exhaustive, structured PubMed search showed that 18F-socium fluoride (18F-NaF) PET is the most suitable technique for detecting active micro-calcification, a hallmark of atherosclerosis,” said Leon Schurgers, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry of Vascular Calcification and Vice Chair of Biochemistry at the Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM), Maastricht University. Prof. Schurgers was the lead author on both review papers.
Vitamin K2 deficiency seen as risk factor
“There are some who view atherosclerosis as an age-related condition – that calcification simply builds up over time. NattoPharma contends that this condition is not simply age-related; rather, that atherosclerosis is the product of a vitamin deficiency: vitamin K2,” says Dr Hogne Vik, MD, Nattopharma’s chief medial officer.
Anderson said in addition to the evidence of the vitamins effects on calcium mobility into and out of the bones, and the knock on effects on arterial calcification and ultimately cardiovascular health and aging, other ducks need to be put into a row on the RDI effort.
“There are still not a lot of good public databases out there that show the levels of Vitamin K2 in various foods,” Anderson said.
Sources: Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation
Early Vascular Ageing in Chronic Kidney Disease: Impact of Inflammation, Vitamin K, Senescence and Genomic Damage
Authors: Dai L, et al.
European Journal of Preventive Cardiology
Locking and loading the bullet against micro-calcification
Authors: Florea A, et al.