More Wrinkles = Too Little Vitamin K2?

This post (“The vitamin deficiency that’s written all over your face”)  by Sarah Pope at Healthy Home Economist is very good. It takes various pieces of data and puts them together to suggest that people who don’t get enough Vitamin K2 will get facial wrinkles sooner. The most interesting data is the difference between women in Shanghai, Bangkok and Tokyo — the Tokyo women had the fewest wrinkles. They eat the most natto, of course, and natto is notoriously high in Vitamin K2. Pope should have added that Tokyo women probably also eat a lot more of other fermented foods than Shanghai and Bangkok women — for example, more pickles and miso.

Another example of the same sort of reasoning:

Further research which bolsters the notion that getting plenty of K2 in the diet makes for smoother facial features is found in the research of Korean scientists and was published in the journal Nephrology in 2008. The rate at which the kidneys are able to filter the blood is an important measure of overall kidney function.  Researchers found that reduced renal filtration rate was associated with increased facial wrinkling. What does decreased kidney filtration rate predict? You guessed it – Vitamin K2 deficiency, according to American research published the year after the Korean study.

I wonder what other nutritional deficiencies poor kidney function is associated with. These associations are far from convincing but it is a new (to me) and testable idea. And Vitamin K2 is quite safe.

Assorted Links

Thanks to Anne Weiss and Dave Lull.

Does Too Little Vitamin K2 Cause Prostate Cancer?

People with unusual genomes often resemble canaries in a coal mine: More sensitive than the rest of us to bad environments. This is illustrated by a new study of prostate cancer/genome associations.

Repeating earlier work in Europeans, they compared the genetic profiles of Japanese groups of prostate cancer sufferers with non-sufferers. . . . The joint numbers included 7,141 prostate cancer sufferers and 11,804 non-sufferers. The most recently identified loci are on chromosomes 11, 10, 3 and 2. . . .The locus on chromosome 2 is linked with GGCX, a vitamin K-dependent [actually, vitamin K2] enzyme that regulates blood clotting [Vitamin K2 does not regulate blood clotting], bone formation and cancer biology. Japanese foods such as natto and seaweeds are rich in vitamin K, which is thought to protect against cancer. Interestingly, the association of this SNP with prostate cancer was significant in all populations except for the Japanese in the USA, indicating that environmental factors, such as diet, are involved.

Here is the paper. Why would the correlation not show up for Japanese in the USA? Maybe because Japanese in the USA all get too little Vitamin K2.

Neither the press release nor the article make clear what I am saying: These results make it a lot more plausible that Vitamin K2 protects against prostate cancer. A lot of mainstream nutritional advice is based on epidemiology. The K2/prostate cancer connection is especially interesting because it does not suffer from the usual problems of epidemiology: difficulty measuring intake (do you have any idea how much K2 you consume?) and vast confounding (Vitamin K2 intake is probably correlated with many other things).

Vitamin K2 Deficiency Linked To Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease often runs in families and some of the genes responsible have been identified. One is called PINK1. A new fruit fly model uses fruit flies with a similar genetic defect.

Patrik Verstreken and his team used fruitflies with a genetic defect in PINK1 or Parkin that is similar to the one associated with Parkinson’s. They found that the flies with a PINK1 or Parkin mutation lost their ability to fly.

Upon closer examination, they discovered that the mitochondria in these flies were defective, just as in Parkinson’s patients.  Because of this they generated less intracellular energy – energy the insects needed to fly. When the flies were given vitamin K2, the energy production in their mitochondria was restored and the insects’ ability to fly improved. The researchers were also able to determine that the energy production was restored because the vitamin K2 had improved electron transport in the mitochondria.  This in turn led to improved energy production.

The obvious conclusion is that some Parkinson’s patients may benefit from eating more Vitamin K2. Less obvious and less certain is that our diets contained more K2 in the past (so that the various genes that now cause Parkinson’s were rendered harmless).  Warren Buffet famously said about risk exposure: “”It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked”. Likewise, changes in diet (such as reduction in K2 intake) expose disease-causing genes. I have made this point several times. It is counter-intuitive that disease-gene linkages suggest bad environmental changes.

Thanks to Melissa McEwen.

Assorted Links

Thanks to Peter Spero and Hal Pashler.