Boost Heart Health With Vitamin K
Vitamin K is important in blood clotting and has been shown to benefit heart health. However, studies identifying the link between vitamin K intake and heart disease have been limited until now. New research by a New Edith Cowan University team recently linked diets rich in vitamin K to healthier blood vessel function and reduced risk of heart disease.
Atherosclerosis is a cardiovascular condition characterized by the deposition of plaques along blood vessel walls. One of the top contributing factors to this disease is poor diet. As fats and cholesterol collect, arteries become narrow and hardened, interrupting healthy blood flow, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke. Adding more vitamin K to your diet could prevent this.
The New Edith Cowan University research team examined data from 50,000 people collected as part of a 23-year long study. They looked at consumption of both vitamin K1 (found primarily in green leafy vegetables) and vitamin K2 (found in meat, eggs, and fermented foods). What the team discovered was that:
♦ The highest intakes of vitamin K1 were 21% less likely to develop atherosclerosis-related heart disease.
♦ The risk for atherosclerosis-related heart disease in those with a high intake of vitamin K2 was 14% lower.
♦ A lower risk of heart disease was seen for all types related to atherosclerosis.
The analysis of this data suggests that increased consumption of vitamin K (both types) can help protect against atherosclerosis and potentially fatal heart conditions. At this time, the guidelines for vitamin K consumption are based on the levels of vitamin K1 a person needs for proper blood coagulation. But, going above this guideline could give you protection against heart disease.
Vitamin K has been shown to regulate calcium levels in the body, which was previously only thought to promote bone health. In addition, by ensuring that calcium is used efficiently, vitamin K also prevents calcium build-up in the arteries that can be associated with plaque formation. This research identifies the potential role of vitamin K in protecting the heart and the importance of a healthy diet for overall health.
With heart disease being the leading cause of premature death in the U.S., it is critical to take steps to reduce the risks. Dietary changes are one simple step to achieve this, starting with the addition of more vitamin K to daily diets. As research continues to improve data on vitamin K content in foods and recommended dietary guides, the future of heart health begins to look brighter.
Jamie W. Bellinge, et al. Vitamin K Intake and Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease in the Danish Diet Cancer and Health Study. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2021.