New views on protecting the heart

Doctors now believe that low levels of vitamins D and K raise chances of heart disease—factors they had not considered before—and that increasing these two nutrients can help prevent heart disease.

At the recent American Heart Association’s Scientific Conference in Orlando, Florida, researchers reported their findings from following more than 27,000 people, aged at least 50, with no history of cardiovascular disease. After one year, compared to those with normal vitamin D levels, those with very low levels of vitamin D—one third of participants—were 77 percent more likely to die, 45 percent more likely to develop coronary artery disease, 78 percent more likely to have a stroke and twice as likely to develop heart failure. Doctors noted that these problems arose even with moderate vitamin D deficiency but expressed hope because it is easy to raise vitamin D levels and to correct deficiency.

The scientists concluded, “When you consider that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America, you understand how this vitamin D research can help improve the length and quality of people’s lives.”

Doctors in a vitamin K study explained that the body needs vitamin K to absorb calcium into bone and that, when vitamin K is deficient, calcium instead builds up in and hardens the arteries, leading to coronary heart disease.

Researchers measured the amount of vitamin K in the diets of 564 post-menopausal women and found that those who consumed about 45 mcg per day of vitamin K2 had 20 percent less coronary calcium buildup compared to women who got an average of 18 mcg of vitamin K2 per day.

Researchers said, “This study confirms once again that natural vitamin K2 is clearly linked to prevention of cardiovascular disease,” and that, “vitamin K2 is essential to cardiovascular health.”

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