Vitamin K2 May Help Shaky Nerves and Parkinson’s
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
A new study shows that vitamin K2 is able to recover energy compromised nerves and restore their function to normal. While the research is in its initial phases, it could be a major breakthrough for some Parkinson’s patients as well as many people who have shaky or trembly nerves.
“It appears from our research that administering vitamin K2 could possibly help patients with Parkinson’s,” says study author and neuroscientist Patrik Verstreken.
In my opinion the study actually means much more. It breaks new ground in the relationship of vitamin K status and energy production. On the one hand, it means optimizing vitamin K intake could support a better energy level in just about anyone, especially those who have ongoing fatigue issues. On the other hand, it means that taking a vitamin K blocking drug such as Coumadin could cause fatigue and nerve problems, and possibly even contribute to the onset of Parkinson’s.
In this study the researchers looked into gene mutations involving PINK1 and Parkin, mutations that are common in Parkinson’s patients. These mutations reduce the efficiency in which nerve cells produce energy and place a person at risk for developing Parkinson’s. It is important to understand that the dopamine nerve transmission occurring in the substantia nigra region of your brain requires extremely high energy output to function normally. Various pesticides as well as high stress or other issues may injure these nerves over time. If there are also gene mutations, then such a combination of issues may manifest as Parkinson’s. On a lesser scale such issues may simply manifest as shaky nerves. Plus, the risk for such issues manifesting would be more likely in a person suffering from ongoing fatigue.
In the new study researchers created PINK1 and Parkin mutations in fruit flies. These flies did not have the energy to fly. Detailed analysis found that their cellular engines (mitochondria) were highly inefficient. The researchers then fed vitamin K2 to the fruit flies. This restored their mitochondrial energy production to normal, despite having the mutations. Flies treated with vitamin K2 could then fly. Since virtually the same gene mutations and energy malfunction occur in Parkinson’s patients the researchers were quite pleased with their findings. At this time it is unknown what dose of vitamin K2 may help nerve problems or Parkinson’s patients.
This study fascinated me because of the mechanism of correction, which has implications of benefit for just about any person, especially if under high stress and/or developing any type of nerve transmission problem in the arms or legs. The researchers found that vitamin K2 acted as an electron carrier, which is a new discovery for vitamin K2. When your cells make energy then electrons must be passed along a chain of events using electron carriers. If all goes well then a molecule of fuel (carbohydrate or fat) can be converted into 33 molecules of energy (ATP). Many factors can interfere with this process, including basic deficiencies of B vitamins and antioxidants. However, vitamin K2 was able to offset a major breakdown in this system, actually restoring normal electron transport. While this may or may not make a lot of sense to you, please take my word for it, restoring electron transport while under conditions of stress is a really big deal.
In situations of compromised electron transport, trash builds up inside of cells, which in turn triggers death signals to cells. In other words, once the process of nerve injury and compromised energy production gets rolling, at some point it can cross a line that rapidly increases death of nerve cells. Rather unbelievably, vitamin K2, in this fruit fly study, stopped that adverse process while returning energy production to normal.
I wrote extensively on the subject of vitamin K2 in the article, Vitamin K2: Bones, Cardiovascular Health, Blood Sugar Control & Cancer Prevention. It makes sense that doses of vitamin K2 proven to help bones in humans may be helpful for nerves; possibly even trying twice that dose would be fine. The highest dietary source of vitamin K2 is in cheese. In smaller amounts it is in milk, yogurt, eggs, and beef. It is also naturally produced by the bacteria in your large intestine (meaning you need good GI health). In comparison, about 90 percent of dietary vitamin K comes from vitamin K1 in the green leafy vegetables I hope you eat. Vitamin K1 can be converted by your cells to vitamin K2, thus all vitamin K is good for you.
Previous to this study the best known electron transport nutrient was coenzyme Q10. Several human studies have shown that high doses of Q10 can help Parkinson’s patients, although it is not a cure. The bottom line for any person is to have adequate energy support and stress busting nutrients like B vitamins, Q10, pantethine, and magnesium, among others. A person should also have adequate antioxidants to help guard against wear and tear to nerves. As part of that program a person could try higher doses of vitamin K2 to see if it helps improve nerves. Give it a few months to see if it is useful to you.
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