Researchers suggested that more trials need to be done to learn whether the vitamin K COVID connection may help improve outcomes…
Several researchers have sought to learn more about the impact that vitamin D levels might have on COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment. One such cohort study of 489 patients shares that individuals deficient in this vitamin appear to be almost two times more likely to contract the virus. In November 2020, Virus Research published an article that adds that there is enough evidence to support the notion that vitamin D levels not only impact transmission but may also affect COVID severity. A new study has gone one step further and compared the effects of vitamin D with those of vitamin K for their impact on the coronavirus. Its findings suggest that the vitamin K COVID connection may play a bigger role than was initially realized.
The Vitamin K COVID connection
This study was published in Frontiers in Nutrition in January 2022 and involved 135 patients who were hospitalized with COVID. Each patient was assessed based on their levels of both vitamin D and K. They were also assessed for their inflammatory response, with special focus on interleukin 6 (IL-6). IL-6 is a cytokine that is produced when tissue is damaged or infection exists. Some research has also connected IL-6 with viral infections, indicating that this cytokine may exacerbate the disease.
In this new study, it was significantly higher IL-6 levels were associated with poorer COVID outcomes. At the same time, the subjects’ vitamin D levels did not seem to have an impact on whether their outcome was good or poor.
What did appear to have an effect was the patients’ desphospho-uncarboxylated Matrix Gla-Protein (dp-ucMGP) levels, an indicator of vitamin K status. Dp-ucMGP status was linked to IL-6 levels, which were linked with elastic fiber degradation. No such link was found between vitamin D and the degradation of elastic fibers.
Based on these findings, researchers suggested that more trials need to be done to learn whether the vitamin K COVID connection may help improve the outcomes of people diagnosed with COVID-19.
The connection between vitamin K, viral infection, and inflammation
The idea that vitamin K may somehow be linked to viral infection is not new.
A 2007 study in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology noted that vitamin K2 may help suppress the recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with the hepatitis C virus. A 2018 study in the European Journal of Inflammation notes that vitamin K levels are lower in people diagnosed with dengue fever, a viral disease transmitted by the mosquito.
Certain viral infections can result in higher levels of inflammation. One review states that a possible explanation for this is that the virus may dysregulate the inflammatory response. Another proposes that clinical inflammation is the result of steady-state cell-intrinsic and leukocytic immunity failures.
Research published in Cellular & Molecular Immunology in September 2020 suggests that vitamin K may help reduce inflammation primarily due to its impact on the NLRP3 inflammasome. This is a protein complex that initiates cell death and triggers proinflammatory cytokines and has been implicated in infectious diseases, Alzheimer’s, and type 2 diabetes according to a 2019 review article in Cell Death & Disease.
Adequate intakes and supplementation
The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) shares that adequate intakes of vitamin D vary by sex and age. The recommendation for adult males is 120 mcg per day with a 90 mcg per day recommendation for adult females. Children and teens need less.
Leafy greens, some fruit, and vegetable oils are good sources of phylloquinone, also known as vitamin K1. Meat, dairy products, eggs, and natto (fermented soybeans) are good sources of menaquinone, also known as vitamin K2.
The ODS adds that groups at risk of having a vitamin K deficiency include people with malabsorption disorders. When levels are low, vitamin K supplementation may help resolve a deficiency or inadequacy and return the levels to a healthier status — possibly one that helps them better fight viral infections via the vitamin K COVID connection.
To see supplement products that combine D3 + K2 click here.