We’ve recently seen a positive new twist on the heart-health benefits of vitamin K. For the first time, researchers found that low serum levels of vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) were significantly associated with the progression of coronary artery calcium in people taking anti-hypertension medication. (1)
The importance of vitamin K2
While the study above looked at K1 (the vitamin K from plants), vitamin K2 as MK7 (menaquinone) also plays an important role in keeping calcium out of the arteries to help prevent heart issues. In fact, vitamin K2 (produced by bacteria) is more bioavailable, longer lasting, and provides greater support for both bone and cardiovascular health than does plant-based K1. Here’s just some of what we know about the more potent K2:
- People with more dietary intake of K-2 have less of a risk for cardiac events. Aortic calcification, myocardial infarction risk and cardiovascular mortality are shown to be inversely associated with intake of vitamin K, notably K2.
- People who consume the most vitamin K2 have a 50% reduced risk of arterial calcification, according to a study of 4,800 people. During the 10-year study, those taking the most K2 also exhibited a 50% reduced risk for cardiovascular events. (2)
- For every 10 mcg of vitamin K2 consumed, the risk of coronary heart disease was reduced by 9% in a 16,000-person study looking at how high intakes of natural vitamin K2 protect from cardiovascular disease. (3)
Get more vitamin K
These studies and more are proving the many health benefits of getting enough vitamin K. To make sure you’re getting plenty of both vitamins K1 and K2 as MK-7, try to eat more of foods high in each.
Foods high in vitamin K1
- Kale, cooked
- Collard greens, cooked
- Spinach, cooked
- Turnip greens, cooked
- Beet greens, cooked
- Mustard greens, cooked
Foods high in vitamin K2
- Ripe cheese
- Fermented foods
- Shea, M. K., et.al. 2013. Association between circulating vitamin K1 and coronary calcium progression in community-dwelling adults: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 98(1):197-208.
- Geleijnse, J. M., et al. 2004. Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: The Rotterdam Study. Journal of Nutrition 134(11):3100-3105.
- Gast, G. C. M., et al. 2009. A high menaquinone intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease. Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases: NMCD 19(7):504-510.