Low Levels of Vitamin K Associated With Poor Lung Health

People with low levels of Vitamin K have less healthy lungs and are more likely to report having asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to recent research published in the journal ERJ Open Research.1

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is mostly found in green leafy vegetables, olive oil, and soybean oil. It’s important for the function of many proteins in the body, including osteocalcin, coagulation factors, and matrix-Gla protein (MGP).2 However, vitamin K’s role in lung health has not been well understood.

“We already know that vitamin K has an important role in the blood and research is beginning to show that it’s also important in heart and bone health, but there’s been very little research looking at vitamin K and the lungs,” Torkil Jespersen, lead author on the study, said in a release.3 “To our knowledge, this is the first study on vitamin K and lung function in a large general population.”

A team of investigators from Copenhagen University Hospital and the University of Copenhagen conducted a study to assess whether lower vitamin K status was associated with lung disease or lung disease symptoms and lung function.

Data was gathered from a general population sample who underwent a health examination that included questionnaires, spirometry, and measurements of plasma dephosphorylated-uncarboxylated MGP (dp-ucMGP)—a biomarker of vitamin k status. A regression model was used to estimate associations of dp-ucMGP with lung function and self-reported disease or symptoms. The study cohort included 4092 adults aged 24 to 77 years.

Investigators found that lower vitamin k status was associated with lower forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1) (98 mL; 95% CI: 54 to 141 mL) and lower forced vital capacity (FVC) (136 mL; 95% CI: 85 to 187 mL). Dp-ucMGP was not associated with the FEV1/FVC-ratio.

Additionally, lower vitamin k status was associated with higher rates of chronic obstructive lung disease, wheezing, and asthma.

“This study suggests that people with low levels of vitamin K in their blood may have poorer lung function,” Apostolos Bossios, Secretary of the European Respiratory Society’s assembly on Airway diseases, asthma, COPD, and chronic cough, said in a release. “Further research will help us understand more about this link and see whether increasing vitamin K can improve lung function or not.”

Reference
1. Jespersen T, Kampmann FB, Dantoft TM, et al. The association of vitamin K status with lung function and disease in a general population. ERJ Open Res. Published Jan 2023; DOI: 10.1183/23120541.00208-2023
2. DiNicolantonio JJ, Bhutani J, O’Keefe JH. The health benefits of vitamin K. Open Heart. 2015;2(1):e000300. Published 2015 Oct 6. doi:10.1136/openhrt-2015-000300
2. Large study suggests people with low levels of vitamin K have less healthy lungs. News Release. European Respiratory Society. August 9, 2023. Accessed September 1, 2023.

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