Coronavirus warning: Lacking this vitamin could affect your recovery warns new study2020-04-30
Coronavirus has killed a further 473 people in UK hospitals over the last 24 hours – a stark reminder that the UK is still living under the threat of COVID-19. Why some people only experience mild symptoms and others go on to develop severe complications is a pressing point of inquiry. There is no straightforward answer, of course, as numerous factors are at play, such as age and underlying conditions.
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New research has added another piece to the puzzle of varying outcomes.
Scientists have discovered a link between COVID-19 patient’s Vitamin K levels and their subsequent outcome.
Researchers from Canisius-Wilhelmina Hospital in Nijmegen, Maastricht University and Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Lung Health, Austria measured the Dp-ucMGP levels in 123 patients hospitalised by COVID-19, as well as 184 control subjects.
Desphospho-uncarboxylated matrix Gla protein (Dp-ucMGP) is a biomarker which inversely shows the levels of vitamin K in the patient; the higher the level of Dp-ucMGP the patient has, the lower the levels of vitamin K1 and K2.
Patients were followed until they reached one of three endpoints: 1) discharge from the hospital, 2) admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) for intubation and mechanical ventilation, or 3) death.
Outcome of COVID-19 patients was categorised as “good” if they were discharged from the hospital without the need for invasive ventilation, and “poor” if they either needed mechanical ventilation or died.
The research, published in the journal Preprints, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, found that Dp-ucMGP levels were significantly higher in COVID-19 patients with unfavourable outcomes compared to those with less severe reactions to the disease.
The study concluded that the Vitamin K status was reduced in patients with COVID-19 and related to poor prognosis.
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Further research is needed to understand what underpins the relationship but the study researchers propose a few explanations.
Coagulopathy and thromboembolism are complications prevalent in severe COVID-19 cases and are related to poorer survival outcomes.
Vitamin K has long been proven to play a vital role in coagulation.
Coagulation is an intricate balance between clot promoting and dissolving processes in the body.
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As the researchers noted, vitamin K has long been proven to play a vital role in coagulation.
The study also bolsters previous research which has shown low vitamin K status seems to be associated with accelerated elastin degradation.
Elastin is a highly elastic protein that is found in connective tissue in the lungs and skin, for example.
It allows body tissue to resume its shape after stretching or contracting – vital for lung function.
Why is this relevant? COVID-19 has been shown to cause breathing problems from lung degeneration.
“While we do not suggest vitamin K2 is a treatment for COVID-19, this study illustrates that a poor vitamin K status is linked to a poor prognosis,” explained Leon Schurgers, Professor of Biochemistry of Vascular Calcification and Vice Chair of Biochemistry at the Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM), Maastricht University, and co-author of the study.
He added: “Thus, we are hypothesising that improving vitamin K2 status is linked to better health outcomes including cardiovascular, and perhaps even lung health.”
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