A vitamin K-rich diet is associated with a reduced risk of atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease—conditions that effect the heart or blood vessels—of up to 34%, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The investigators examined data from more than 50,000 individuals participating in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health study over a 23-year period.
“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 Nicola Bondonno, PhD, in a press release. “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. 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.”
There are 2 types of dietary vitamin K: vitamin K1, which is found primarily in green leafy vegetables and vegetable oils, and vitamin K2, which is found in meat, eggs, and fermented foods. According to the investigators, participants with the highest intakes of vitamin K1 had a 21% lower likelihood of being hospitalized with cardiovascular disease related to atherosclerosis.
Vitamin K2 was associated with a 14% reduction in risk. This lower risk was observed across all types of cardiovascular disease related to atherosclerosis, with the highest response being from peripheral artery disease at 34%.
“Cardiovascular disease remains a leading cause of death in Australia and there’s still a limited understanding of the importance of different vitamins found in food and their effect on heart attacks, strokes and peripheral artery disease,” said Dr. Jamie Bellinge in the release. “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.”
According to the study authors, although there are comprehensive databases on vitamin K1 content in foods, there is much less data currently available on vitamin K2 content. Further, there are 10 forms of vitamin K2 commonly found in dietary sources, and each may act and be absorbed differently by the body.
“The next phase of the research will involve developing and improving databases on the vitamin K2 content of foods,” Bondonno said in the release. “More research into the different dietary sources and effects of different types of vitamin K2 is a priority.”
Growing evidence of vitamin K benefits for heart health [news release]. EurekAlert; August 8, 2021. Accessed August 10, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/924783