Evidence mounts highlighting the impact of essential nutrients on cardiovascular health, including potential $9.48B a year in healthcare cost savings.

The New Year brings refreshed hope for improvement, from better eating habits and more exercise to prioritizing family time. Each February – American Heart Month – the population focuses more on the cardiovascular system and how those changes can impact longer, healthier lives. Gnosis by Lesaffre shares the recent clinical developments enforcing the necessity of supplementing with proven nutrients to make those heart-healthy goals attainable.

How Much Impact Can Vitamin K2 Have?

Groundbreaking human clinical studies [1,2] have shown that Vitamin K2 as MK-7 provides cardiovascular support that is not currently available through conventional therapies—namely, improving arterial flexibility and elasticity through activating the K-dependent Matrix GLA Protein (MGP). 

Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) acknowledged the substantial clinical evidence showing how vitamin K2 improves heart and bone health and the impact this could have on healthcare costs in its 2023 report. 

The report states: “It is documented to have a role in minimizing coronary artery calcium accumulation, a risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD), along with increasing calcium content in bone. The expanded targeted use of vitamin K2 by specific populations could reduce CAD-attributed events by 15.7% and generate an estimated cost savings to the U.S. healthcare system of $9.48 billion a year between 2022 and 2030.”

What are the Latest Cardiovascular Developments for Vitamin K2?

Last year, there were substantial additions to the body of evidence confirming Vitamin K2 as MK-7’s role in heart health, specifically for women.

• A 2023 observational study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association performed a comprehensive analysis of reproductive factors specific to women and their links to a range of cardiovascular diseases, including atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rate), coronary heart disease, heart failure, and stroke. Using Mendelian Randomization, the researchers revealed an association between the genes that predict reproductive factors and the risk of multiple cardiovascular diseases. According to British Heart Foundation data, coronary heart disease kills more than twice as many women as breast cancer in the U.K.[1]

• A post-hoc analysis of the MenaQ7® K2 as MK-7 1-year cardiovascular study showed that daily supplementation could improve the elastic properties of vessels and promote healthy blood pressure in women with increased arterial stiffness. This post-hoc analysis was presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in August 2023 and will be published later this year.

• Enrollment began for the new multi-center, placebo-controlled, randomized, open-label intervention clinical trial, “The Effect of Vitamin K2 Supplementation on Arterial Stiffness and Cardiovascular Events in PEritonial DIAlysis (VIKIPEDIA)”. The trial was announced in 2021 and is the first study to assess whether a high dosage of K2 as “MK-7 could improve arterial stiffness, cardiovascular disease, 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure, and dialysis efficacy” in kidney patients.

“There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that vitamin K2, especially menaquinone-7, might be the ‘next big thing’ in the battle against vascular calcification,” says Dr. Stefanos Roumeliotis, MD, PhD, Nephrologist at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, lead researcher for the VIKIPEDIA study and new member of the Gnosis by Lesaffre Vitamin K2 Scientific Advisory Committee. “As the research grows and focuses on populations with heavy cardiovascular burden, such as chronic kidney disease patients, it is important to note that MenaQ7 K2 as MK-7 by Gnosis by Lessafre is a safe agent with no major side effects and potentially antiatherogenic and nephroprotective properties.”

The VIKIPEDIA trial is noteworthy because it will use the highest dosage of MenaQ7® Vitamin K2 as MK-7 to date: 1mg. This change is in response to earlier research that did not produce the anticipated results.

“Although the first, early trials produced mixed results, there were various methodological issues regarding the dosage, the design, and the population of these studies,” Dr. Roumeliotis explains. “Ongoing randomized trials are expected to shed some more light soon.”

How Does Folate Factor in Heart Health?
While folate is well-known as an essential nutrient for fertility and pregnancy, growing evidence highlights its role in supporting cardiovascular health. Maintaining optimal folate intake is crucial as folate plays a key role in regulating homocysteine levels, and elevated homocysteine is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

The most recent studies confirming folate’s heart-health supporting role include:

• A January 2024 meta-analysis established noteworthy connections between vitamin A, vitamin B-complex, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin D as potential interventions in mitigating the risk of stroke. [5]

• In a recent study published in the Nutrition Research journal, researchers explored the association between daily folate intake, compromised cardiovascular health, and all-cause mortality. While the researcher noted more study is needed, the conclusion was that increased daily folate consumption may be beneficial in reducing all-cause and CVD mortality of adults with dysglycemia. [6]

• A 2023 study examined the impact of folate on individuals with high blood pressure, revealing that inadequate or excessive folate levels might elevate the risk of heart and overall health issues for those with hypertension. [7]

“Recognized for their role in infant development, folates are now important players in cardiovascular health,” says Luca Tiano, Full Professor of Biochemistry and Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics at the Marche Polytechnic University, Ancona, Italy. “Folate's impact on homocysteine regulation has been linked to a lower risk of stroke, highlighting their significance in promoting overall heart health."

“This underscores the importance of proper folate intake in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system, particularly for individuals with high blood pressure,” adds Jean-Francois Jeanne, Substantiation & Applications Team Manager. “Gnosis by Lesaffre is excited to be at the forefront of helping the global population protect their cardiovascular health with our clinically proven branded ingredients, including MenaQ7 Vitamin K2 as MK-7 and Quatrefolic, the fourth generation of folate.”