Dutch study reveals low Vitamin K levels can worsen the condition of COVID-19 patients, may cause abnormal blood clotting
To find out the role of Vitamin K in COVID-19, a group of Dutch scientists conducted a study in the Canisius-Wilhelmina Hospital in Nijmegen, Netherlands.
Over 7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported so far all over the world and, while the disease is new to us, we are getting to know different aspects of it every day. Research work and studies of all scales have been trying to draw a clear picture for the medical professionals and governments charged with handling the situation.
Abnormal clotting of blood is claimed to be one of the reasons behind death in COVID-19 patients. Recently, a Dutch study stated that low Vitamin K levels can be associated with this cause of death. This study is under peer review and has not been published yet. Doctors do not recommend the use of vitamin K without getting medical consultation as the overuse of vitamin K can lead to severe consequences.
The Vitamin K study
Vitamin K plays an important role in the proper functioning of clotting factors in the body. To find out the role of Vitamin K in COVID-19, a group of Dutch scientists conducted a study in the Canisius-Wilhelmina Hospital in Nijmegen, Netherlands, which included 123 COVID-19 patients who were admitted to the hospital between 12 March 2020 and 11 April 2020. The patients were within the age group of 56 to 80 years, out of which 71 percent were men and around 11 people were using vitamin K antagonists (VKAs). VKAs are a type of anticoagulant drugs which prevent the blood from clotting and are commonly called blood thinners.
Apart from these patients, 184 non-COVID patients were also included in the study as a control group. The age group of this control group was 54 to 67 years, out of which 46% were men and only 3 people were using VKAs.
All the COVID-19 patients were monitored regularly until they got discharged from the hospital, got admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) for intubation or mechanical ventilation or died.
Their results were described as ‘good’ if they got discharged from the hospital without requiring any mechanical ventilation and ‘poor’ if they required ventilator support or died.
Result of the study
The doctors tested the desphospho-uncarboxylated matrix Gla protein (dp-ucMGP) levels in the body of the patients suffering from COVID-19. The levels of this dp-ucMGP protein are inversely related to vitamin K status - which means that if the levels of dp-ucMGP are higher, it would represent that the level of vitamin K is lower. The results of the test showed that the levels of dp-ucMGP were higher in patients with COVID-19 infection when compared with the healthy control group.
In the COVID-19 group, the dp-ucMGP levels were higher in the patients with ‘poor’ outcome and comparatively low in the patients with ‘good’ outcome.
The results further stated that in these COVID-19 patients, the levels of Plasma desmosine (pDES) and isodesmosine (DES) were significantly higher. DES and pDES are an indicator of the rate of elastin degradation in the body.
This means that in the COVID-19 patients the rate of elastin degradation was significantly higher when compared with the control group, which makes them prone to lung fibrosis.
Elastin is a protein that provides elasticity to the tissues. This protein is what enables the lungs to expand and contract for breathing.
In the deficiency of Vitamin K, which was induced due to the consumption of VKAs, there was an acceleration in elastic fibre degradation.
In this study, scientists conclude that Vitamin K seems to play an important role in the severity of COVID-19, especially in those taking blood thinners.
For more information, read our article on Vitamin K deficiency.
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