Unlocking the Key to Healthy Aging: The Influence of Vitamin K on the Diet-Microbiome-Health Axis

In a recent narrative review published in the Nutrients Journal, researchers explored how dietary vitamin K supplementation might promote healthy aging.

Study: Vitamin K and hallmarks of aging: Attention to diet and the gut microbiome.  Image Credit: ratmaner/Shutterstock.comStudy: Vitamin K and hallmarks of aging: attention to diet and the gut microbiome. Image Credit: ratmaner/Shutterstock.com


Dietary vitamin K is a modulator of the diet-microbiome-health axis; therefore, researchers are looking for evidence of how it affects gut microbial composition and metabolic activities implicated with host health outcomes, especially in the elderly of the general population.

In 2020, people over the age of 60 outnumbered children under five, and this older population will nearly double to 2.1 million, overtaking young people by 2050.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to implement lifestyle interventions that could effectively reduce, prevent or reverse ageing-related chronic diseases and physiological perturbations.

Role of a vitamin K-containing diet in healthy ageing

Diet or eating pattern is a strong determinant of optimal human health. The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019 showed that a poor diet, i.e. low in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and high in processed foods, sugar and sodium, is the second and third risk factor by death in 13.5% and 14.6% of women and men globally.

Similarly, the EAT-Lancet Commission argued that switching from an industrialized to a plant-based diet could avert an estimated 11 million deaths.

The impact of healthy eating as a preventive and therapeutic strategy to combat aging could be immense. The gut microbiome is another key factor mediating the relationship between diet and age-related health.

Therefore, unraveling the interplay between diet, gut microbiome and host health could help devise a healthy strategy to promote healthy aging and narrow the gap between health and lifespan.

Green vegetables are the primary source of dietary vitamin K or vitamin K1 (phylloquinone). Convenience foods, e.g. hamburgers, pizza, french fries, etc., include other sources of phylloquinone, mainly due to the phylloquinone-rich vegetable oils used in their preparation, suggesting underestimation of dietary vitamin K1 intake in current food consumption data pool.

While vitamin K1 is a dietary source of vitamin K, menaquinones or vitamin K2 are a byproduct of the biosynthesis of the gut microbiome. Cheese, a rich source of saturated fat, is another good source of K2.

Since phylloquinone derived from ready meals might have higher bioavailability than phylloquinone derived from fresh fruits/vegetables, the fundamental questions regarding the dietary source and bioavailability of phylloquinone and menaquinones remain unanswered.

Observational studies and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the role of vitamin K in age-related diseases have produced inconsistent results. Elucidating the link between diet and health, for example, estimating portion size, could help resolve these equivocal findings from epidemiological studies evaluating vitamin K nutrient intake through dietary recall.

While studies have implicated many other bioactive compounds in aging research, observational studies have found that vitamin K and vitamin K-dependent proteins (VKDPs) are associated with a broad spectrum of age-related diseases. However, evidence for the direct impact of vitamin K on cellular senescence remains unknown.

Although vitamin K’s salutary impact on human health remains unclear, studies have established its effect on hallmarks of aging, such as genomic instability, cellular senescence, mitochondrial dysfunction, and epigenetic dysregulation.

Vitamin K drives cellular and macromolecular aging processes through the direct absorption of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and mitigating their damage. Its anti-inflammatory activity also arrests the low-level chronic inflammatory loads that accompany aging. Furthermore, vitamin K inhibits the activity of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB).

The human body stores small amounts of vitamin K and its reserves are depleted quickly in the absence of dietary supplements. However, interestingly, the human body has a vitamin K recycling system that allows for the use of small amounts of vitamin K in γ-carboxylation of VKDPs and minimizes the adverse effects of insufficient dietary vitamin K intake.

VKDPs are involved in various pathophysiological pathways, for example, prothrombin is a VKDP of the coagulation system and extrahepatic Gla proteins, such as matrix Gla protein (MGP) play an essential role in bone and bone health. vases.

Additionally, diet-derived K1 or K2 could help fight Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in the elderly. Thus, adherence to good quality foods could improve well-being and promote healthy aging.


Researchers highlighted the need to recognize several critical caveats regarding the interaction between diet, vitamin K, the gut microbiome, and host health that is critical to elucidating the role of vitamin K in aging.

Investigations of vitamin K and its role in human aging and age-related dysfunction are progressing exponentially. Future studies on the clinical impact of vitamin K on human health could help clarify some of the conflicting clinical trial findings regarding vitamin K supplements and health outcomes, overlooking the gut microbiome profile.

Thus, while a healthy eating pattern is critical in determining vitamin K intake and its impact on human health, careful consideration of the interaction between diet and the microbiome must be implemented to assess the impact of vitamin K on human health. .

Interestingly, total vitamin K intake can remain unaffected by reduced healthy food intake and be compensated by an unhealthy food source.

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