Researchers say vitamin K may reduce heart disease risk

The health benefits of vitamin K have not received as much attention as other vitamins. Most of the time, when it’s discussed, it is typically described as an aid in blood clotting. However, research indicates that vitamin K may help lower your risk for heart disease, and a recent study supports this. Below, we discuss how much vitamin K you need, what it does, and how you can incorporate it into your diet.

What vitamin K can do for you

Vitamin K has big responsibilities in your body, although it isn’t the most popular vitamin. In Florida, Jaclyn Railsback, DO, an internal medicine specialist with the Cleveland Clinic Weston Hospital, says that fat-soluble vitamins are necessary for blood clotting, help wounds heal, and increase bone density. In addition, it prevents vascular calcifications and the progression of heart disease.

Vitamin K is more commonly associated with blood clotting and bone health than heart health, but to better understand the connection between it and your heart, researchers from Australian New Edith Cowan University (ECU) analyzed the health data of more than 50,000 people for more than 23 years. Atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque along the walls of arteries, was their goal.

Recent findings published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggest that people with high vitamin K intake are 35 percent less likely to suffer from atherosclerosis, especially in the narrow peripheral arteries. Despite providing more evidence of vitamin K’s cardiovascular benefits, these findings suggest that we should consume more than we currently do.

Are you in need of how much

According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), women should consume 90 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K daily and men should consume 120 mcg. The difference, according to Dr. Bondonno, is that current guidelines consider how much vitamin K is needed for blood clots. “This is the equivalent of significantly higher consumption of vitamin K in people in our study,” she noted. Study results suggest, however, that eating more vitamin K may not only prevent cardiovascular disease, but may also help reduce inflammation.

Even though it sounds counterintuitive, a vitamin that helps clot blood while preventing plaque from building up in the arteries is actually useful. Protein is king. You need vitamin K in order to protect your heart from plaque buildup, Dr. Bondonno says.

What is the ideal amount of vitamin K to consume to reap the maximum benefits? It’s still too early to tell how that will turn out. The vitamin K intake of the study participants could not be validated against biomarkers or food recalls because they did not test it against biomarkers or food recalls, says Dr. Bondonno. The research needs to be done further, but it seems that more research is better.

However, that does not mean you should go out and buy vitamin K supplements. Dr. Railsback says that you can consume too much vitamin K since it is a fat-soluble vitamin. Despite the lack of clear daily limits in the ODS, Dr. Railsback says there is a slight risk of overconsumption. Anemia and jaundice can be caused by too much. Furthermore, Dr. Railsback says that some medications do not interact well with the vitamin, so you should always check with your doctor before taking it.

Nevertheless, you should make sure you are getting enough of the vitamin. A number of observational studies have found that inadequate intake of vitamin K increases bone fracture risk and is associated with low bone density, says Dr. Railsback. Those who have gastrointestinal disorders (celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, short bowel syndrome) or a history of gastric bypass surgery might not be able to absorb vitamin K properly and might benefit from supplementation. What are the main points? Before supplementing, discuss this with your physician.

The right kind of food for you

Your body probably gets enough vitamin K already. Dietary intake of vitamin K is generally within the recommended range, according to National Institutes of Health ODS. Regardless, you need the whole story before you can be sure.

Rather than just one form of vitamin K, there are two–vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. According to Rachel Dyckman, MS, RDN, CDN, vitamin K1 is widely available in our food supply, making it easy to incorporate into a diet. “[It can be found] in leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, spinach, cabbage, arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, basil, and parsley.”

The fat-soluble vitamin K is also important to remember. If you want your K to be absorbed properly, you should also consume fat-containing foods that are K-rich. You can increase your body’s absorption of vitamin A by drizzling olive oil on green leafy vegetables or eating a handful of nuts.

As opposed to vitamin K2, vitamin K2 is more complicated. According to Dr. Railsback, it is a predominantly gut-produced substance, which is further divided into MK4 through MK13 subgroups. Dyckman suggests liver, cheese, fatty fish, and egg yolks as other good sources of these antioxidants. Due to the fat content of many K2 sources, something extra isn’t needed to ensure absorption.

The only vitamin K you are supposed to consider for Vitamin K1 is what you need to meet official requirements. Currently, no vitamin K2 recommendation is established, so a diet based only on vitamin K1 is currently recommended, says Dyckman. Nevertheless, if you’re hoping to gain cardiovascular benefits, you shouldn’t overlook K2. The prevention of coronary heart disease is better with vitamin K2 than vitamin K1. In the ECU study, those who consumed the most vitamin K1 had a 21 percent reduction in hospitalization rates for atherosclerosis, and those who consumed the most vitamin K2 had a 14 percent reduction in hospitalization rates.

Additionally, remember that vitamin K consumption isn’t the only way to keep your heart healthy-quit smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, and engage in regular exercise.

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