The paper “A narrative review of vitamin K forms in cheese and their potential role in cardiovascular disease” is the Editor's Choice article for the November issue of the International Journal of Dairy Technology (IJDT).
The article authored by Sitong Zhou, Bhavbhuti Mehta and Emma Feeney is a result of a collaboration between the UCD Institute of Food and Health, University College Dublin, and the Dairy Chemistry Department, SMC College of Dairy Science, Kamdhenu University, India.
This review concerns an emerging area of nutritional research that has potential implications in preventing cardiac health disease and promoting further benefits of consuming cheese and fermented dairy products.
Vitamin K is the name given to a group of fat-soluble vitamins which comprise vitamin K1 (phylloquinone), vitamin K2 (the term for the range of menaquinones, MK4-13) and vitamin K3. While the role of vitamin K in blood coagulation has been well recognised for many years, it is only recently that a role in cardiovascular health potentially via reducing vascular calcification has been proposed. Vascular calcification describes the accumulation of the mineral hydroxyapatite in the arterial wall and is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
While data on the vitamin K content of dairy foods are limited, many kinds of cheese contain high concentrations of K2 forms. Recent clinical studies have shown that K2 (MK-7) can inhibit vascular calcification. The review suggests that the protective effects of cheese against coronary heart disease, despite the saturated fat content, may be due in part to its vitamin K2 content.
Apart from the further clinical studies required to confirm the role of K2 forms in protecting coronary arteries, the review indicates the need for additional research to determine vitamin K concentrations in fermented dairy products.