This overlooked vitamin protects you against heart disease
07/06/2018 // RJ Jhonson // Views

Heart disease kills millions worldwide. Besides consuming a heart-friendly diet and engaging in regular physical activity, ensuring that you have an adequate supply of vitamin K2 will also help reduce your risk of developing the condition.

Vitamin K2 is one of the least known vitamins, often because it is mistaken for the more common vitamin K1. Both types of vitamin K are closely related – in fact, they perform roughly the same function. They activate and imbue proteins with calcium-binding properties, allowing the body to absorb calcium better and utilize it for various vital purposes.

K1 and K2, however, are absorbed and distributed throughout the body at different rates; thus, affecting their role in maintaining your health. Vitamin K1 is poorly absorbed by the body and stays in the blood no longer than a few hours. It helps maintain your blood's clotting ability, preventing over-bleeding and helping you recover from physical injuries.

K1 is found in abundance in vegetables, while K2 is usually found in fatty food. The latter is more readily absorbed because the body processes fat faster. It also stays longer in the blood, sometimes remaining for as long as several days. This relative longevity makes K2 better at distributing calcium than K1, which leads experts to believe it plays a significant role in delivering calcium to the organs, such as the bones, that need it the most.

With very little vitamin K2, your body can have plenty of surplus calcium, which can stay in your blood vessels, combined with fat, and harden into plaque. This results in atherosclerosis, a condition where plaque narrows your blood vessels and restricts the flow of your blood. In bad enough cases, atherosclerosis leads to heart attack and death.


Other benefits of vitamin K2

Its role in improving the absorption of calcium makes vitamin K2 vital to both bone and dental health. Its intake is linked to a reduced incidence of fractures, as well as a lower risk of osteoporosis and age-related loss of bone density.

Several studies support this. One trial involving 244 postmenopausal women found that supplementation of vitamin K2 slowed down the reduction of bone mineral density. Another study on Japanese women – this time using high doses – showed similar results.

One of the proteins that vitamin K2 activates is osteocalcin, which plays a vital role in bone metabolism and the growth of new dentin, the layer of calcified tissue underneath your teeth's enamel. It is believed that K2 works with vitamins A and D to promote dental health.

Several studies indicate that vitamin K2 may have anticancer properties not previously seen in vitamin K1. Researchers observed that in 11,000 men, high intake of K2 reduced the risk of advanced prostate cancer by as much as 63 percent. Two other clinical trials linked K2 with a lower risk of liver cancer recurrence and higher survival rates among patients.

Good sources of vitamin K2

Westerners are notable for having a lower intake of vitamin K2 compared to people from Eastern countries. Because gut bacteria produce vitamin K2, the prevalent use of antibiotics that kill even beneficial microbiota further complicates the problem.

Vitamin K1 is easier to find that K2, but here are some great food items to start on:

  • Natto – This Japanese food item is fermented soybean. It is an excellent source of vitamin K2, but the taste may need some getting used to.
  • Eggs – Yolks are among the easiest-to-find sources of K2 and can be added to any meal, even after breakfast.
  • Cheese – But not all types of cheese will do. Fermented cheese like Gouda, cheddar, and blue cheese are recommended.
  • Dark meat chicken – Chicken thighs contain moderate amounts of vitamin K2. The nutrient is also found in chicken breast but is not as readily absorbed as the one in the thighs.
  • Organ meat – Animal organs, such as liver, are good sources of vitamin K2.

Learn about other ways to curb the risk of cardiovascular disease by going to

Sources include: 1 2

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