Growing evidence of vitamin K benefits for heart health
from a story published on ecu.edu.au website—09 August 2021
PERTH, AUSTRALIA—A recent investigation by researchers at Edith Cowan University in Australia have found that people who eat a diet rich in vitamin K have up to a 34% lower risk of atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease.
The human body requires vitamin K for post-translational carboxylation specific glutamate to γ‑carboxyglutamate residues of certain proteins that are required for blood coagulation or for controlling binding of calcium in bones and other tissues.
Vitamin K comes in different forms; vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) comes primarily from green leafy vegetables (such as, spinach, kale, broccoli, and lettuce) and vegetable oils, while vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is found in meat, eggs, and cheese.
Examining data from more than 50,000 people taking part in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health study over a 23 year period, the researchers investigated whether people who ate more foods containing vitamin K had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease related to atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries).
The study found that people with the highest intakes of vitamin K1 were 21% less likely to be hospitalised with cardiovascular disease related to atherosclerosis. For vitamin K2, the risk of being hospitalised was 14% lower.
The findings suggest that consuming more vitamin K may be important for protection against atherosclerosis and subsequent cardiovascular disease. Dietary guidelines for vitamin K consumption are generally only based on the amount of vitamin K1 a person should consume to ensure that their blood can clot and more research is needed to understand whether intake of vitamin K above the current guidelines can afford further protection against the development of other health conditions such as heart disease. It should be noted that when evaluating intakes of vitamin K, it is important for those who take blood thinner medication such as warfarin to discuss their individual vitamin K dietary needs with their health care professional.
The findings for vitamin K2 are particularly interesting and further research is needed to expand our knowledge about the specific beneficial effects of vitamin K2 within our bodies.