Hardened arteries, weak, brittle bones, cancer and heart disease are major contributors of aging. Research suggests that Vitamin K can have an impact of preventing or reversing these effects.
Vitamin K, like other vitamins found in nature is really a group of compounds. The different forms or types of Vitamin K come from have specific actions in the body.
- K 1 otherwise known as phylloquinones are found in green leafy vegetables and are responsible for blood clotting.
- K 2 otherwise known as menaquinones (MK 4-9) are found in meat, eggs, dairy and fermented foods. The subtype MK -7 is very beneficial because it stays in your body longer to direct calcium from arteries and tissues to bones thereby preventing or reversing hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), calcium deposits in other tissues and osteoporosis.
Vitamin K2 subtype MK-7 is most abundant in natto, a fermented soy product widely consumed in Japan. Another source is fermented curd cheese. Natto is an acquired taste and many people find it distasteful. Fortunately, K2 as MK-7 is now available as a dietary supplement. Studies have shown that people consuming a diet high in Vitamin K2 (menoquinone) have:
- Reversal of bone loss and fractures and increase in bone mass
- Decreased risk of prostate cancer and possibly non Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Reduction of calcified arteries and coronary heart disease
- Reduced overall cancer risk and lower risk of dying from cancer
To work properly, Vitamin K must be eaten with a fatty meal. It works collaboratively with Vitamin D.
- In order to build bone, you need all of the other minerals and cofactors such as calcium, magnesium, silica, manganese and boron.
- While many people take calcium alone to build bones, it is not beneficial for arteries, which can become calcified or hardened. Vitamin K protects blood vessels from calcifying. It along with Vitamin D increases a protein called Matrix GLA protein (MGP) that guards the elastic fibers of your arteries, keeping them supple, smooth and preventing deposits of calcium that damage the artery lining leading to plaque formation, clots and blockage.
- Calcium can build up in, inflame and damage other soft tissues. Arthritis, kidney stones, heart valve disorders, and bone spurs are among some disorders where calcium build up plays a role. Vitamin K may protect against these disorders and can be a part of an anti aging regime.
Most diets have sufficient amounts of K1 to allow blood to clot but may not have sufficient amounts to protect against calcification and inflammation in other tissues. To get more vitamin K, eat a diet rich in:
- Kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts for K1, some is converted to K2
- Fermented raw curd cheese and natto for K2
- Supplements such as K2 menoquinone or MK7 in a dose of 45-185 mcg a day. Use caution if on higher doses if you are taking blood thinners.
- Avoid the synthetic form K3 or menadione.
According to the Food and Nutrition Board, “No adverse effects associated with vitamin K consumption from food or supplements have been reported in humans or animals.” Always, check with your physician if you are taking medications such as blood thinners that may be affected by vitamin K.