Olive oil: possible synergy with vitamin K? Or just a source of the nutrient?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created April 03, 2013 at 11:04 PM

I stumbled on a neat study today:

"A Mediterranean Diet Enriched with Olive Oil Is Associated with Higher Serum Total Osteocalcin Levels in Elderly Men at High Cardiovascular Risk"

Compared to a low fat control diet, a Mediterranean diet with olive oil "robustly" increased osteocalcin levels while a Mediterranean diet with nuts did not.

Vitamin K's primary benefits (e.g. to bone health and artery calcification) come from activating proteins like osteocalcin (via carboxylation).

Given this, does this study suggest olive oil, compared to nuts, better supports the use of vitamin K in the body? Or is the bit of vitamin K1 in olive oil enough to explain this effect?



on April 05, 2013
at 02:41 AM

Haha thanks VB. Ironically enough I use a name for one of the isomers of vitamin K as one of my passwords.



on April 04, 2013
at 11:43 AM

Dear Mscott, I am thinking of using the words "osteocalcin" and "carboxylation" for my passwords, since I don't know what they mean and nobody will be able to guess them in a million years. The only thing that bothers me is that I will forget them for sure. I hope you get your A+++ for every biology course. You deserve it.

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on April 05, 2013
at 09:39 PM

Okay so I'm going to answer my own question here. One of the main olive oil polyphenols, oleuropein, may affect osteocalcin levels, but mostly results are mixed or not supportive of this. As far as olive oil itself it may increase osteocalcin but the effect small and difficult to tell.

The more interesting theory explaining the study may be partially related to the effect of O6 polyunsatuated fat compared to monounsaturated fat. This study is quite interesting:

"Novel effects of diets enriched with corn oil or with an olive oil/sunflower oil mixture on vitamin K metabolism and vitamin K-dependent proteins in young men"

It found that consuming corn oil (abbreviated CO) led to lower levels of the vitamin K1 and lower levels of the vitamin k dependent protein MGP and increased the percentage of uncarboxylated (not activated) osteocalcin compared to a lower pufa mixture of olive and sunflower oil (abbreviated O/SO). From the paper:

"It was noteworthy that the PUFA-rich CO diet induced a significant reduction in plasma K1 and TAG compared with both adjustment and O/SO diets. This is consistent with the carriage of K1 by TRL (6) and with the well-established capacity of diets rich in PUFA to reduce post-absorptive concentrations of plasma TAG (21), probably by reducing the post-prandial accumulation of TRL (22). The accompanying evidence of slight increases in undercarboxylation of FII and osteocalcin by the CO diet imply a lowered vitamin K status that may, however, be unrelated to the lowering of plasma TAG and K1. Possible explanations include a reduced intestinal absorption of vitamin K, a reduced extracellular or intracellular delivery of vitamin K to target proteins, an increased turnover rate of the vitamin, or an inhibitory effect on VKD ??-carboxylation".

And perhaps most interestingly:

"The possibility that the CO diet reduced the intestinal absorption of vitamin K is supported by in vivo studies in rats that showed that the PUFA linoleic acid (18:2) caused a marked decrease in the intestinal absorption rate of vitamin K1 (23). This inhibition was not seen with the MUFA oleic acid (18:1)".

So it may be that olive oil isn't synergistic with vitamin K, but rather linoleic acid is antagonistic.

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