Getting more vitamin K could help improve eye health by boosting micro-circulation in eye tissue. [Photo: Bigstock]

Vitamin K may have a role in eye health, new research

24 January, 2019

Natural Health News — New research on vitamin K – a vitamin that aids blood clotting and helps maintain calcium levels in the bones – may also promote eye health.

Researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium studied 935 randomly recruited Flemish people around the age of 40.

Analysing their vitamin K status, the researchers found a correlation between a participants’ levels of matrix Gla protein, or MGP, which helps keep arteries from clogging. Low levels of MGP can indicate a vitamin K deficiency.

“MGP is abundantly expressed in the eye, where it takes part in preserving the structural integrity of the trabecular meshwork, the sclera, and the retinal ganglion cells,”​they wrote. In other words, MGP supports healthy tissue, balances ocular pressure and circulation supports the transmission of visual information to the brain.

Considering that activation of MGP requires vitamin K, the researchers hypothesised that there could be a link between vitamin K intake and eye health.

Over the 11 year follow up, higher levels of MGP did indeed point to a much healthier microvascular structure in the eyes which in turn supports overall eye health.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports​​ they say the findings suggest that supplementing with vitamin K could help promote eye health as we age.

Since the study did not look at vitamin K supplementation directly, more study is needed in this area and also to see if these results can be repeated in larger and more diverse populations but initial results are encouraging.

Getting more in your diet

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in two main forms: phylloquinone, also known as phytonadione, (vitamin K1) which is found in green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli and spinach, and makes up about 90% of the vitamin K in a typical Western diet;

Menaquinone (vitamin K2), makes up about 10% of Western vitamin K consumption, and can be produced in the gut by microflora.

Like vitamins C and E vitamin K is a ‘family’ and other types of menaquinones can also be found in the food we eat; MK-4 can be found in animal meat, MK-7, MK-8, and MK-9 are found in fermented food products like cheese, and natto is also a rich source of MK-7.

A diverse diet and a healthy gut can help ensure you get enough vitamin K.