, New DelhiZarafshan Shiraz
Vitamin K is primarily known for its role in blood clotting and bone health but emerging research suggests that it might also have connections to lung health. While Vitamin K might not have a direct connection to any particular respiratory disorders, research indicates that individuals with insufficient levels of Vitamin K tend to experience a higher frequency of respiratory symptoms such as asthma, COPD and wheezing.
Nonetheless, no direct link has been established between Vitamin K deficiency and any specific lung condition. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Anjali Khalane, Consultant Pulmonologist and Sleep Disorders Specialist at Ruby Hall Clinic, explained how is Vitamin K connected to the lungs –
- Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Vitamin K has been suggested to have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation plays a significant role in various lung diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). By reducing inflammation, Vitamin K could potentially have a positive impact on lung health.
- Matrix Gla Protein (MGP): Vitamin K is essential for the activation of a protein called Matrix Gla Protein (MGP). MGP is involved in regulating calcium in the body and preventing calcium buildup in soft tissues, including blood vessels and potentially the lungs. This is important because the calcification of lung tissues could contribute to lung-related issues.
- Blood Vessel Health: Vitamin K is also involved in maintaining the health of blood vessels. Since the lungs are rich in blood vessels, maintaining proper vascular function is crucial for optimal lung function. Impaired blood vessel function could contribute to lung diseases.
- Osteocalcin and Lung Tissue: Osteocalcin, a protein activated by Vitamin K, is mainly associated with bone health. However, recent studies have suggested that it might also play a role in lung health by influencing lung tissue function and development.
What are some of the ways that lower levels of vitamin K can impact the lungs?
Dr Sameerkumar Nanaware, Consultant – Pulmonology, MBBS, MD (TB and Chest) at SRV Hospitals in Chembur, answered, “Lower levels of Vitamin K can cause a reduction of a specific protein called matrix GLA protein (MGP) which is known to help reduce lung tissue calcification. Hence, indirectly lower Vitamin K levels may increase the risk of lung calcification and symptoms related to the same.”
Dr Anjali Khalane elaborated –
- Reduced lung function: People with low levels of Vitamin K are more likely to have reduced lung function, which means they might face difficulty in breathing. This can be due to a number of factors, including airway narrowing, inflammation, and decreased production of surfactant, a substance that helps keep the lungs’ airways open.
- Increased risk of asthma and COPD: Asthma and COPD are chronic lung diseases that can cause breathing problems. Studies have shown that people with low levels of vitamin K are more likely to have these diseases.
- Wheezing: Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound that can occur when the airways narrow. People with low levels of vitamin K are more likely to wheeze.
- Inflammation: Inflammation is a natural immune response that can help protect the body from infection. However, chronic inflammation can damage the lungs and make it difficult to breathe. People with low levels of vitamin K are more likely to have chronic inflammation in their lungs.
Does it cause long-term damage and can it be reversed?
Dr Sameerkumar Nanaware revealed, “While there isn’t a direct link between Vitamin K and the lungs, individuals with deficient Vitamin K levels exhibit diminished ventilatory capacity which can be demonstrated as low levels of FEV1 and FVC on spirometry (Pulmonary Function test) which can be reversed by supplementing Vitamin K.”
What are the different ways to increase levels of Vitamin K?
Dr Anjali Khalane suggested, “By eating more Vitamin K-rich foods such as leafy greens and cow liver and seeking the right advice from experts, people can raise their levels of Vitamin K.”
Dr Sameerkumar Nanaware advised, “Vitamin K can easily be supplemented in the diet by increasing the intake of green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, and soyabean oil as well as fruits such as kiwi, blueberries and blackberries are a rich source of Vitamin K.”