Blogging with Parkinson's

A personal perspective on Young Onset Parkinson's

Buzz about Vitamin K2

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There is a lot of interest in vitamin K2 at the moment; it has been shown to reverse the symptomatic effects of one of the genetic defects that causes Parkinson’s. In fruit flies.

It’s a long way from fruit flies to human beings, but, as it happens, these popular research insects share the PINK1 gene with us humans, and defects in the fruit fly version have a similar effect on the insects as they do on people.

The neuroscientist responsible for this research, Patrik Verstreken, is based at VIB, a research institute in Flanders, Belgium. According to a statement issued by VIB, “Malfunctioning power plants are at the basis of Parkinson’s.” They are referring to the mitochondria that generate energy for our cells:

In Parkinson’s patients, the activity of mitochondria and the transport of electrons have been disrupted, resulting in the mitochondria no longer producing sufficient energy for the cell. This has major consequences as the cells in certain parts of the brain will start dying off, disrupting communication between neurons.

[…]

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.

[…] 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.

– From “Vitamin K2: new hope for Parkinson’s patients”, VIB news article

It sounds quite exciting, despite the early nature of the research. Vitamin K2 occurs naturally and is, according to Wikipedia, nontoxic. The K group of vitamins are needed to promote blood coagulation and “in metabolic pathways in bone and other tissue.” While vitamin K1 is found in green leafy vegetables, vitamin K2 is “synthesized by animal tissues and is found in meat, eggs, and dairy products.”

(Wikipedia also notes that “in the elderly there is a reduction in vitamin K2 production”; might this be a contributory factor to the fact that Parkinson’s is more prevalent in the elderly?)

I imagine that the dose of vitamin K2 required to reverse the effect of Parkinson’s (assuming that the researcher’s theory is correct) is large. However, it does seem prudent for us Parkies to try to eat more foods that contain vitamin K2.

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2 thoughts on “Buzz about Vitamin K2

  1. The following warning was a response from VIB to an enquiry made by an e-mail correspondent of mine:

    “Although you can buy vitamin K without prescription, it is not advisable to take it as a food supplement based on the research of Patrik Verstreken. Safety can’t be guaranteed, we don’t know what could be the right dose for humans and by now we don’t know whether there might be interactions. This – and a lot more – still has to be investigated. Should vitamin K2 appear to work for some people, it won’t cure the disease. It alleviates the symptoms, and not the cause.”

    Personally, I am always wary of food supplements, which can make it far too easy to overdose on these things.

  2. With regards to toxicity: Japanese researchers have given 45 mg a day of K2 (MK-4) to Japanese osteoporosis patients for many years with no untoward side effects. This is a VERY large dose, and yet resulted in no side effects.

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