In a new study from Edith Cowan University, researchers found that people who eat a diet rich in vitamin K have up to a 34% lower risk of atherosclerosis-related heart disease (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels).
They examined data from more than 50,000 people taking part in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health study over a 23-year period.
They tested whether people who ate more foods containing vitamin K had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease-related to atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries).
There are two types of vitamin K found in foods we eat: vitamin K1 comes primarily from green leafy vegetables and vegetable oils while vitamin K2 is found in meat, eggs and fermented foods such as cheese.
The study found that people with the highest intakes of vitamin K1 were 21 percent less likely to be hospitalized with heart disease related to atherosclerosis.
For vitamin K2, the risk of being hospitalized was 14% lower.
This lower risk was seen for all types of heart disease related to atherosclerosis, particularly for peripheral artery disease at 34%.
The findings suggest that consuming more vitamin K may be important for protection against atherosclerosis and subsequent heart disease.
Current dietary guidelines for the consumption of vitamin K are generally only based on the amount of vitamin K1 a person should consume to ensure that their blood can coagulate.
However, there is growing evidence that intakes of vitamin K above the current guidelines can afford further protection against the development of other diseases, such as atherosclerosis.
Although more research is needed to fully understand the process, the researchers believe that vitamin K works by protecting against the calcium build-up in the major arteries of the body leading to vascular calcification.
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The study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. One author of the study is Dr Nicola Bondonno.
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