Nattokinase: Health Benefit, Sources, Doses, and Side Effects

Most of my markers for heart disease risk looked excellent, including my triglycerides, c-Reactive Protein, blood pressure, and Hemoglobin A1c.

However, my Apo B, PLAC, oxidized LDL, and Lp(a) told a different story. Even though my diet and lifestyle support my heart health, my genetics do not. So, my doctor had me start taking nattokinase, bergamot, and a specific mix of vitamin E.

I had heard of nattokinase but wasn’t very familiar with it. So, for my own benefit, as well as yours, I delved into the research.

I wanted to understand better where nattokinase comes from, its health benefits, and how to use NK. The following is what I discovered.

Thorne Multi-Vitamin Elite AM PM Tom Nikkola

Feel your best. Use the best.

Thorne sets the standard for nutritional supplement quality, purity, and efficacy. Get VIP pricing and personalized recommendations when you use my dispensary.

What is nattokinase?

Nattokinase (NK) comes from a popular cheese-like Asian food made by fermenting soybeans with Bacillus subtilis. Asians have eaten natto for more than 2000 years. 

Researchers observed that those who eat natto regularly have lower rates of cardiovascular disease. The correlation led them to identify the active compound, a fibrinolytic enzyme called nattokinase, in 1987. The first clinical trial was conducted in 1990.

Nattokinase is a nutritional supplement. It’s not a patentable pharmaceutical drug. Without a patent, it’s almost impossible to make enough money on it to justify multiple, expensive, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. As a result, there aren’t as many clinical studies as there would be with a drug.

But the studies that have been done show nattokinase can play a crucial role in cardiovascular and cognitive health.

With cardiovascular disease being the number one cause of death in the western world (no, it’s not COVID-19), and growing concerns about aging people’s cognitive health, nattokinase shows promise as a natural, safe, and effective solution for supporting heart and brain health. 

Nattokinase is also unique because it affects multiple aspects of vascular health.

Health Benefits of Nattokinase

Unlike many drug therapies for cardiovascular health, nattokinase does not cause significant side effects. It has a strong safety record and is not toxic, even at high doses.

Protects against excessive blood clotting

Fibrin is a blood protein that causes coagulation. If you cut yourself, the clotting keeps you from losing too much blood. That’s a good thing under those circumstances. But when you get a blood clot inside your blood vessels, it can lead to big problems. 

Over time, clotting causes plaque formation. If a clot is large enough, and it breaks loose from your vessel walls, the clot can lead to a heart attack or stroke. 

Based on animal studies, “NK was found to be a potent antithrombotic agent, and, by reducing thrombus formation, was able to slow the progression of plaque formation.”

According to one human study, a single 100mg dose breaks down fibrin and thins the blood within four hours of consumption, reducing the risk of a clot.

In a two-month study, those taking NK experienced lower fibrinogen levels, factor VII, and factor III, which all suggest better cardiovascular health.

Doctors also recommend the daily use of low-dose aspirin as an anticoagulant, but long-term use comes with significant gastrointestinal (GI) side effects and excessive bleeding.

Nattokinase improves blood flow by supporting better blood viscosity and might be a safer alternative than pharmaceuticals that do the same thing.

Slows the progression of atherosclerosis and supports healthy blood cholesterol levels

Atherosclerosis is the ultimate cause of stroke and heart disease.

Though cholesterol is essential for your health, the oxidation of excessive cholesterol contributes to atherosclerosis. Research shows nattokinase slows the progression of atherosclerosis and supports healthy blood cholesterol levels.

As an antioxidant, it appears to reduce the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL).

Human research also shows nattokinase impacts carotid plaque size, even better than taking simvastatin.

Our data suggested that NK was a better alternative to statins, a commonly used drug to reduce atherosclerosis, and furthermore, NK could be a viable alternative therapy for cardiovascular attack and stroke in patients.

Nattokinase: A Promising Alternative in Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Diseases

High doses of nattokinase support healthier blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, though lower doses either don’t have a significant effect, or require long-term use to affect lipid levels.

Supports healthy blood pressure

Nattokinase has been shown to suppress the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which helps control elevated blood pressure. High blood pressure causes damage to blood vessels. The vascular damage leads to atherosclerosis development.

Two different 8-week studies with hypertensive people showed nattokinase supports healthy blood pressure levels. Animal research adds further support for its effects on blood pressure. However, the exact mechanism for its blood pressure effects remains unknown.

Neuroprotection

Nattokinase could play an important role in maintaining cognitive function with aging.

Though brain-related, human-based studies are challenging to conduct, numerous animal studies show NK offers cognitive benefits.

Amyloid fibrils contribute to cognitive problems like Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show nattokinase degrades amyloid fibrils. 

In addition, a strong correlation between cardiovascular disease and cognitive dysfunction exists, so NK’s impact on the cardiovascular system may impact mental health as well.

Side Effects, Drug Interactions, and Doses

With NK’s anticoagulant and blood thinning effects, patients taking aspirin, warfarin, or related drugs should only consider nattokinase with a doctor’s supervision. In addition, those who take blood pressure medication or have low blood pressure should exercise caution, since NK also impacts blood pressure.

Other than that, NK appears to be safe and very well-tolerated.

The most common nattokinase dose is 100 mg per day, which is also measured as 2000 FU, though people have tolerated doses of 150 mg (3000 FU) without issue. There may some benefit to splitting the dose throughout the day, but the most important thing is being consistent with taking it.

Read also: Hydroxytyrosol Health Benefits.

Summary

Nattokinase holds tremendous promise, especially as a cardiovascular-supporting natural supplement.

Some integrative doctors recommend nattokinase to support patients with chest pain, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), varicose veins, hemorrhoids, poor circulation, and peripheral artery disease. They may also recommend it for conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, fibroids, and muscle spasms. As these are all medical conditions, always check with your doctor before introducing such a supplement. Much more research is needed to see how effective NK is for these health issues as well.

Nikkola Newsletter Logo

Don’t miss out! Every Thursday, I send my Nikkola Newsletter, which includes content you won’t find on my site or podcast.

The Nikkola Newsletter is guaranteed free of left-wing ideologies, including critical race theory, open borders, vegan diets, mandatory vaccination or masking, socialism, communism, and cancel culture, unless it’s included to explain its absurdity.

Antithrombotic Trialists’ Collaboration. “Collaborative Meta-Analysis of Randomised Trials of Antiplatelet Therapy for Prevention of Death, Myocardial Infarction, and Stroke in High Risk Patients.” BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), vol. 324, no. 7329, Jan. 2002, pp. 71–86. PubMed, doi:10.1136/bmj.324.7329.71.

Chen, Hongjie, et al. “Nattokinase: A Promising Alternative in Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Diseases.” Biomarker Insights, vol. 13, July 2018. PubMed Central, doi:10.1177/1177271918785130.

“Effects of Natto Extract on Endothelial Injury in a Rat Model.” PubFacts, https://www.pubfacts.com/detail/21173810/Effects-of-natto-extract-on-endothelial-injury-in-a-rat-model. Accessed 12 Mar. 2021.

Fadl, N. N., et al. “Serrapeptase and Nattokinase Intervention for Relieving Alzheimer’s Disease Pathophysiology in Rat Model.” Human & Experimental Toxicology, vol. 32, no. 7, July 2013, pp. 721–35. PubMed, doi:10.1177/0960327112467040.

Fujita, Mitsugu, et al. “Antihypertensive Effects of Continuous Oral Administration of Nattokinase and Its Fragments in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats.” Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin, vol. 34, no. 11, 2011, pp. 1696–701. PubMed, doi:10.1248/bpb.34.1696.

Hamza, Amal. “MIRACLE ENZYMES SERRAPEPTASE AND NATTOKINASE MITIGATE NEUROINFLAMMATION AND APOPTOSIS ASSOCIATED WITH ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE IN EXPERIMENTAL MODEL.” WORLD JOURNAL OF PHARMACY AND PHARMACEUTICAL SCIENCES, vol. 3, Jan. 2014, pp. 876–91.

Haroon, T. S., et al. “An Open Clinical Pilot Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Terbinafine in Dry Non-Inflammatory Tinea Capitis.” British Journal of Dermatology, vol. 126, no. s39, pp. 47–50.

Hsia, Chien-Hsun, et al. “Nattokinase Decreases Plasma Levels of Fibrinogen, Factor VII, and Factor VIII in Human Subjects.” Nutrition Research (New York, N.Y.), vol. 29, no. 3, Mar. 2009, pp. 190–96. PubMed, doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2009.01.009.

Hsu, Ruei-Lin, et al. “Amyloid-Degrading Ability of Nattokinase from Bacillus Subtilis Natto.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 57, no. 2, American Chemical Society, Jan. 2009, pp. 503–08. ACS Publications, doi:10.1021/jf803072r.

Ibe, Sachie, et al. “Antihypertensive Effects of Natto, a Traditional Japanese Fermented Food, in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats.” Food Science and Technology Research, vol. 15, no. 2, 2009, pp. 199–202. DOI.org (Crossref), doi:10.3136/fstr.15.199.

Inhibition of Angiotensin I Converting Enzyme by Subtilisin NAT (Nattokinase) in Natto, a Japanese Traditional Fermented Food – Food & Function (RSC Publishing). https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2012/fo/c2fo10245e#!divAbstract. Accessed 12 Mar. 2021.

Iwai, Kunihisa, et al. “Antioxidative Functions of Natto, a Kind of Fermented Soybeans: Effect on LDL Oxidation and Lipid Metabolism in Cholesterol-Fed Rats.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 50, no. 12, June 2002, pp. 3597–601. PubMed, doi:10.1021/jf0117199.

Kim, Ji Young, et al. “Effects of Nattokinase on Blood Pressure: A Randomized, Controlled Trial.” Hypertension Research: Official Journal of the Japanese Society of Hypertension, vol. 31, no. 8, Aug. 2008, pp. 1583–88. PubMed, doi:10.1291/hypres.31.1583.

Kurosawa, Yuko, et al. “A Single-Dose of Oral Nattokinase Potentiates Thrombolysis and Anti-Coagulation Profiles.” Scientific Reports, vol. 5, no. 1, 1, Nature Publishing Group, June 2015, p. 11601. www.nature.com, doi:10.1038/srep11601.

Lampe, Bradley J., and J. Caroline English. “Toxicological Assessment of Nattokinase Derived from Bacillus Subtilis Var. Natto.” Food and Chemical Toxicology: An International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, vol. 88, Feb. 2016, pp. 87–99. PubMed, doi:10.1016/j.fct.2015.12.025.

Lee, Bao-Hong, et al. “Antioxidation, Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibition Activity, Nattokinase, and Antihypertension of Bacillus Subtilis (Natto)-Fermented Pigeon Pea.” Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, vol. 23, no. 4, Dec. 2015, pp. 750–57. PubMed, doi:10.1016/j.jfda.2015.06.008.

Metkar, Sanjay Kisan, et al. “In Vitro and in Vivo Insulin Amyloid Degradation Mediated by Serratiopeptidase.” Materials Science & Engineering. C, Materials for Biological Applications, vol. 70, no. Pt 1, Jan. 2017, pp. 728–35. PubMed, doi:10.1016/j.msec.2016.09.049.

Okamoto, Akiko, et al. “Anti-Hypertensive Substances in Fermented Soybean, Natto.” Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, vol. 47, no. 1, Jan. 1995, pp. 39–47. Springer Link, doi:10.1007/BF01088165.

Ren, N. N., et al. “[A clinical study on the effect of nattokinase on carotid artery atherosclerosis and hyperlipidaemia].” Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi, vol. 97, no. 26, July 2017, pp. 2038–42. PubMed, doi:10.3760/cma.j.issn.0376-2491.2017.26.005.

Stampfer, M. J. “Cardiovascular Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease: Common Links.” Journal of Internal Medicine, vol. 260, no. 3, Sept. 2006, pp. 211–23. PubMed, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2796.2006.01687.x.

Suwanmanon, Kanintra, and Pao-Chuan Hsieh. “Effect of γ-Aminobutyric Acid and Nattokinase-Enriched Fermented Beans on the Blood Pressure of Spontaneously Hypertensive and Normotensive Wistar-Kyoto Rats.” Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, vol. 22, no. 4, Dec. 2014, pp. 485–91. PubMed, doi:10.1016/j.jfda.2014.03.005.

Suzuki, Yasuhiro, et al. “Dietary Supplementation of Fermented Soybean, Natto, Suppresses Intimal Thickening and Modulates the Lysis of Mural Thrombi after Endothelial Injury in Rat Femoral Artery.” Life Sciences, vol. 73, no. 10, July 2003, pp. 1289–98. ScienceDirect, doi:10.1016/S0024-3205(03)00426-0.

Wu, Der-Jinn, et al. “Lipid-Lowering Effect of Nattokinase in Patients with Primary Hypercholesterolemia.” Acta Cardiologica Sinica, vol. 25, Mar. 2009.

Train your body like you care about it.

Join VIGOR Training, my strength and conditioning program. Professionally-designed programs that’ll make you stronger, fitter, and healthier in your second half of life than you were in your first.