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Research Shows Vitamin K Benefits Heart Health

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According to new research, eating a vitamin K-rich diet can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels).

The study’s findings were published in the American Heart Association’s Journal.

Over a 23-year period, researchers looked at data from more than 50,000 people who took part in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health study. They looked into whether persons who ate more vitamin K-rich foods had a lower risk of atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease (plaque build-up in the arteries). Vitamin K1 is found predominantly in green leafy vegetables and vegetable oils, but vitamin K2 is found in meat, eggs, and fermented foods such as cheese.

According to the study, persons who consumed the most vitamin K1 were 21% less likely to be hospitalized for cardiovascular illness caused by atherosclerosis. The probability of being admitted to the hospital was 14 percent lower when vitamin K2 was taken.

This decreased risk was observed for all forms of heart disease caused by atherosclerosis, with peripheral artery disease accounting for 34% of all cases. Dr. Nicola Bondonno, an ECU researcher and senior author on the paper, said the findings suggested that eating extra vitamin K could help protect against atherosclerosis and consequent cardiovascular disease.

“Right now, current dietary recommendations for vitamin K consumption are mostly based on the quantity of vitamin K1 a person needs to ensure that their blood can clot,” Dr. Bondonno explained.

“However, there is mounting evidence that vitamin K doses above current recommendations can provide further protection against the development of other diseases, such as atherosclerosis,” Dr. Bondonno noted.

“While additional research is needed to completely understand the process, we believe vitamin K protects against calcium build-up in the body’s major arteries, which leads to vascular calcification,” Dr. Bondonno said.

The significance of vitamin K in cardiovascular health, particularly vascular calcification, is an area of research that offers promising prospects for the future, according to first author Dr. Jamie Bellinge of the University of Western Australia.

“There is still a limited understanding of the impact of different vitamins contained in diet and their effect on heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease in Australia,” Dr Bellinge added.

Dr. Bellinge commented, “These findings shed light on the possibly critical effect that vitamin K has on the killer disease and underscore the need for a balanced diet in preventing it.”

The research’s next steps While databases on the vitamin K1 content of foods are extensive, there is currently far less data on the vitamin K2 content of foods, according to Dr. Bondonno.

In addition, there are ten various types of vitamin K2 in our diet, each of which may be absorbed and operate differently in our bodies.”

The team will now move on to building and updating databases on vitamin K2 levels in foods.

A priority is to conduct further study into the various dietary sources and effects of various forms of vitamin K2 “Dr. Bondonno explained.

Furthermore, an Australian database on the vitamin K content of Australian foods is required (e.g. vegemite and kangaroo).

Dr. Marc Sim, a study collaborator, has just completed the development of an Australian database on the vitamin K content of foods, which will be released soon.

ECU’s Institute of Nutrition Research is conducting the study. Researchers from the University of Western Australia, Royal Perth Hospital, Herlev and Gentofte University Hospitals in Denmark, and the Danish Cancer Society Research Centre collaborated on the study. In 2020, the Institute for Nutrition Research became an ECU Strategic Research Institute.

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