If you take this one vitamin, odds are you will live longer than those who don’t.
And the difference is so stark that your chances of dying of heart disease is 57% lower.
That’s the result of one study on vitamin K.
If you have heard about vitamin K at all, it’s usually in the context of blood clotting.
The fat-soluble vitamin is vital in helping you heal from a cut. Without it, even the smallest cut will cause you to bleed to death.
But this vitamin has been shown to play an important role in keeping your heart healthy and your arteries subtle.
When people started to understand the clotting properties in vitamin K, there was some concern that it might create blood clots in the body that could lead to strokes down the road, but that is not the case.
The clotting action is vital but seems to only get activated when blood is exposed to air. But inside this vitamin is what is needed to utilize calcium to build bones and keep arterial walls soft and supple.
But in order to utilize if effectively you need to understand there are two forms of vitamin K and they perform very different roles, and surprisingly have different sources.
Vitamin K1 is found primarily in leafy green vegetables. K1 seems to work its magic in the arteries and the valves of the heart.
In 2017 scientists looked at how a simple vitamin K1 solution could reduce calcification of heart valves and the results were stunning. It was cut in half in the subjects receiving K1.
In this head-to-head test versus a placebo, the patients receiving the K1 were able to benefit from the improved blood flow in the heart.
When the heart valves get blocked or gunked up by calcium, it produces the heart attacks known as the widow maker. When these blockages break off and get into smaller branches of the arteries, it kills heart tissue.
But the problem is the difficulty in getting enough K1 to get this result. Green vegetables do not easily release K1 for absorption in the body. It would take the equivalent of 14 cups of spinach a day to get the levels needed for the experiment.
But when you consider that the only other treatment to take care of these blockages once they occur is surgery, talking to your doctor about getting supplementation seems to be a reasonable thing to do.
The other form of vitamin K is K2. This is found in fermented soy and animal saturated fats such as egg yolks, milk fat, cheese and meat.
This is one of the areas that we have seen a decrease in the ‘Standard American Diet’ (SAD).
Since the 1970s, Americans have been heeding government recommendations to reduce the amount of fat in the diet, but the results have been different than predicted. Instead of reducing heart attacks, the rate of coronary disease has skyrocketed.
Part of the reason may be what was discovered in the Rotterdam study that was reported in the Journal Nutrition in 2004. In this large study it was proven that even when you control all the other lifestyle variables, a reduction in vitamin K by reducing dietary fat and cholesterol leads to greater cardiac problems, including heart attacks and death.
The good news is that while it is difficult to absorb K1 from vegetables because of the binding it does to the plant fibers, it does seem to be created in the gut from vitamin K2, which means you can get easily absorbable forms from meat and dairy.
Bonus Fact: If you can find Natto, which is a fermented soybean from Japan, you will have found the richest source of vitamin K2 known.