Vitamin K to the rescue for prevention of heart disease! Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that plays a major role in blood clotting and normal bone formation and function. Of the subgroups of vitamin K, vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is synthesized by plants and algae, while vitamin K2 (menaquinone) found in milk, cheese, eggs and meat, are produced by animal tissues and bacteria during fermentation. A large study examining post-menopausal women showed that those who consumed more vitamin K2 had significantly lower occurrence of coronary heart disease. No such relation was seen with vitamin K1.
This study confirmed previous findings that vitamin K helps prevent calcium deposits in blood vessels that would lead to hardened arteries and result in coronary heart disease. However, the study only included post-menopausal women and relied on their estimation of vitamin K intake, thus more research is needed to make more concrete recommendations that can be applied to the general public.
In addition, increasing just vitamin K2 intake is a not a good idea because they are also rich in fats, thus they themselves can predispose you to developing coronary heart disease. Choosing low-fat versions of dairy products would therefore be wise. Whether or not taking vitamin K2 in supplement form is safe and effective is still under investigation. For now, it is best to get your dose of vitamin K (both K1 and K2 are essential to health) from foods as part of a balanced diet.
Top Food Sources of Vitamin K:
- Cabbage, cauliflower
- Brussels sprouts
- Kale, Swiss chard
- Collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens
- Canola oil/soybean oil
- Cheese and milk (choose low-fat version)
- Meats (especially liver)
- Japanese natto (fermented soybeans, commonly eaten with rice)