Genetic research has found a link between hypertension and vitamin D deficiency

July 1, 2013

According to a new US study low blood vitamin K1 concentrations may increase the progression of arterial calcification in people with high blood pressure who take anti-hypertensive medications.

In the observational study, blood vitamin K1 concentrations from 296 participants with extreme coronary artery calcium (CAC) progression and from 561 healthy controls were measured (1). The participants had different ethnicities (non-Hispanic white, African American, Hispanic and Chinese American). The study results showed that, in general, people with extreme CAC progression were 34% more likely to have low vitamin K1 levels compared with people without extreme CAC progression, which was not statistically significant. However, a significant association between low vitamin K1 levels and increased arterial calcification was observed in participants taking anti-hypertension medication.

The researchers commented that these results may have big implications for public health as 20% of the adults in the US are treated for hypertension, and about half of all US adults may have a low vitamin K status. Intervention trials are needed to determine whether improving serum vitamin K1 reduces CAC progression, especially in hypertensives. Coronary artery calcification is a common manifestation of cardiovascular disease. CAC progression has been shown to better predict future fatal and nonfatal cardiac events (2). A preventive role for vitamin K against CAC progression has been proposed on the basis of its role in activating the matrix gla protein (MGP), which is a calcification inhibitor in vascular tissue (3). In addition to MGP, other vitamin K–dependent proteins in cardiovascular tissue, such as the gla-rich protein, may also influence atherosclerosis progression (4).


  1. Shea M. K. et al. Association between circulating vitamin K1 and coronary calcium progression in community-dwelling adults: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published online June 2013.
  2. Budoff M. J. et al. Progression of coronary artery calcium predicts all-cause mortality. JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2010; 3:1229–1236.
  3. Schurgers L. J. et al. Post-translational modifications regulate matrix Gla protein function: importance for inhibition of vascular smooth muscle cell calcification. J Thromb Haemost. 2007; 5:2503–2511.
  4. Viegas C. S. et al. Gla-rich protein is a novel vitamin K-dependent protein present in serum that accumulates at sites of pathological calcifications. Am J Pathol. 2009; 175:2288–2298.