Feeling wheezy? Study links low vitamin K levels to lung issues
A new study suggests that people with low levels of vitamin K in their blood are more likely to have reduced lung function and to report lung problems like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or wheezing.
Vitamin K, which is found in leafy greens, vegetable oils and cereal grains, produces proteins needed for blood clotting and bone building. What’s not clear, though, is the role that vitamin K plays in lung health. Now, a new study by researchers at Copenhagen University Hospital and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark has examined the relationship between vitamin K levels and lung function.
“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,” said Torkil Jespersen, lead author of the study. “To our knowledge, this is the first study on vitamin K and lung function in a large general population. Our results suggest that vitamin K could play a part in keeping our lungs healthy.”
The researchers recruited 4,092 people aged between 24 and 77 for their study. Participants undertook lung function testing, called spirometry, which included measuring the amount of air someone could breathe out in a second (FEV1) and the total volume of air they could forcibly exhale after taking the deepest breath possible (forced vital capacity or FVC). They also provided blood samples, and completed questionnaires related to health and lifestyle. The blood tests included a marker of vitamin K deficiency, dp-ucMGP.
The researchers found that, on average, participants with high plasma levels of dp-ucMGP, reflecting low vitamin K levels, had lower FEV1 and FVC. They were also more likely to say they suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, or wheezing.
“On their own, our findings do not alter current recommendations for vitamin K intake, but they do suggest that we need more research on whether some people, such as those with lung disease, could benefit from vitamin K supplements,” Jespersen said.
The researchers are currently undertaking a clinical trial comparing vitamin K supplements with a placebo, to assess the effects of the vitamin on cardiovascular, metabolic and bone health. On the basis of the current study, they plan to include lung function analysis in the trial.
The study was published in the journal ERJ Open Research.