A new study conducted by researchers from Edith Cowan University explored the heart health benefits associated with consuming more vitamin K. According to their findings, following a diet rich in vitamin K can reduce the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease by nearly 35%.
“Current dietary guidelines for the consumption of vitamin K are generally only based on the amount of vitamin K1 a person should consume to ensure that their blood can coagulate,” said researcher Dr. Nicola Bondonno. “However, there is growing evidence that intakes of vitamin K above the current guidelines can afford further protection against the development of other diseases, such as atherosclerosis.”
Promoting quality heart health
For the study, the researchers analyzed data from more than 50,000 people enrolled in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study. They tracked the participants’ diets and heart health outcomes over the course of two decades.
The researchers learned that participants who ate the highest levels of vitamin K had the best heart health outcomes by the end of the study. The results were broken down between consumption of vitamin K1 and K2, and the study showed that eating more vitamin K1 was linked with the greatest health outcomes.
The researchers found that consuming a high amount of vitamin K was associated with a 34% lower risk of any heart disease related to atherosclerosis. Specifically, eating more vitamin K1 lowered the risk of heart disease by more than 20%, while eating more vitamin K2 lowered the risk of heart disease by nearly 15%.
“These findings shed light on the potentially important effect that vitamin K has on the killer disease and reinforces the importance of a healthy diet in preventing it,” said researcher Dr. Jamie Bellinge.
While the researchers plan to do more work in this area to better understand how vitamin K effectively boosts heart health, they encourage consumers to follow a healthy, balanced diet to achieve optimal health outcomes. For consumers looking to incorporate more vitamin K into their diet, vitamin K1 is found in leafy green vegetables, like kale, brussels sprouts, and spinach. Vitamin K2 is found in dairy products, meat, and other animal products.
“Although more research is needed to fully understand the process, we believe that vitamin K works by protecting against the calcium build-up in the major arteries of the body leading to vascular calcification,” said Dr. Bondonno.