Vitamin K is one of those vitamins that you do not seem to hear a lot about in the media or in the doctor’s office. So what is vitamin K and why should you care about it?
Vitamin K is an important nutrient for heart and bone health. There are two natural forms utilized by the body, including Vitamin K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 is used for blood coagulation, while K2, which is mostly found in meat, liver, cheese, and egg yolks, is used for calcium regulation. With prevailing low-fat and vegetarian diets, many of us eat reduced amounts of meat and opt for egg white omelets, basically eliminating the richest source of this essential vitamin. As a result, many people may be deficient in K2.
Natto, a fermented form of soy, native to Japan, is an excellent source of K2, but is not common in the United States. K1 is found in leafy greens such as kale, spinach, chard, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, parsley, and romaine lettuce. To get enough K1, however, you would need to eat an abundance of these foods daily, which unfortunately, most of us do not do. While K1 is also not very well absorbed by the body (usually about 10%, but absorption is improved when consumed in conjunction with fatty oils, so pour on that olive oil!), K2 is more bioavailable for the human body. Both vitamins work together to prevent cardiovascular disease in that K2 controls calcification in your arteries and K1 helps to thin the blood. Find out more by visiting www.DrEliaz.org.
Calcification of the arteries is a form of cardiovascular degeneration that can begin at an early age but usually goes unnoticed until more serious problems arise. K2 helps prevent this process by deciding where calcium gets delivered in the body. K2 ensures that the calcium you consume is deposited in your bones, not in your blood vessels and other soft tissues. Heart Disease Specialist, Dr. William Davis explains, “Normal deposition of calcium occurs only in bone and in teeth. Abnormal deposition of calcium in the body occurs in three places: the inner lining of the arteries of the body (the intima) that causes atherosclerotic plaque; the muscle layer of arteries ("medial calcification"); and heart valves. K2 appears to be the form of vitamin K responsible for controlling these phenomena (not K1, the form that plays a crucial role in blood clotting).” It is easy to see why Vitamin K2 is important in preventing heart disease and osteoporosis.
Without enough vitamin K (both K1 and K2), the vast majority of the population are at risk for age-related disease. Your arteries receive calcium they do not need or want, and your bones become more porous since the calcium is not delivered to them.
K2 also helps promote blood vessel elasticity by safeguarding elastin, the core protein in the muscle fibers primarily responsible for the elasticity of the arterial wall. Existing elastin is damaged and new production is inhibited by calcium deposition. If you are at risk for cardiovascular disease and/or osteoporosis, consider adding full spectrum Vitamin K supplementation to your diet. And if you are vegan or on a strict diet, it may be wise to consider K2 supplements. Adding some hard cheese to your diet or a hardboiled egg for a fast breakfast may greatly improve your heart health and decrease your risk for osteoporosis. Learn more healthy diet recommendations by visiting www.dreliaz.org/recommends-diet.