Vitamin K for bone and heart health

The body needs more vitamin K to ensure healthy aging, and vitamin K reduced bone fractures and slowed coronary artery calcium buildup, in several new studies.

Dr. Bruce Ames, from the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in Oakland, California, has proposed a new theory that when essential nutrients such as vitamin K are scarce, the body uses them first for essential short-term needs at the expense of long-term health. Dr. Ames reviewed hundreds of articles on vitamin K and found links between low vitamin K levels and age-related conditions such as fragile bones, calcified arteries and kidneys, heart disease and possibly cancer. Government recommendations, according to Dr. Ames, consider the short-term need for vitamin K to coagulate blood, but omit the role vitamin K plays in curbing long-term conditions. Correcting even slight deficiencies in essential nutrients such as vitamin K may preserve health in later years, the doctor concluded.

Researchers reviewed seven vitamin K bone studies, each with 50 or more postmenopausal women and lasting at least two years, and found that those who took higher doses of vitamin K1 or vitamin K2 had stronger hip bones and fewer fractures than those who took less, leading doctors to conclude that postmenopausal women may require higher doses of vitamin K for optimal bone health. Doses were 200 mcg or higher of vitamin K1 per day and up to 45 mg per day for vitamin K2.

Doctors reviewed nutrition data from an annual survey of Japanese people and found that men and women who consumed high amounts of vitamin K—often from green and yellow vegetables and a fermented soy food called natto—had far fewer fractures than those who got less vitamin K.

In a coronary artery calcium (CAC) study, calcium built up 6 percent more slowly in those with CAC who took 500 mcg of vitamin K1 per day for three years compared to those who did not. 

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