Better Nutrition June 2019

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Vitamin K Types and Benefits

What you need to know about this crucial nutrient /// BY VERA TWEED

Vitamin K is gaining attention because it

has a much greater effect on our health

than previously thought. It isn’t a single

substance, but a family of nutrients

that plays a critical role in preventing

disease, including osteoporosis and

hardening of arteries that leads to

heart attacks and strokes.

Traditionally, vitamin K has been

viewed as essential for healthy blood

clotting—we could bleed to death from

a minor cut without it. In this sense,

deficiency has not been viewed as a

problem for healthy people, but this holds

true for only one form of the vitamin: K 1

.

Vitamin K 2

is another story. In nature,

it exists in 10 subtypes whose names—

MK-4 through MK-13—designate

different molecular structures within

the K 2

family. All of their functions are

not fully understood yet, and there is

no established daily requirement for

vitamin K 2

, but the need is clear.

Why Vitamin K 2

Is Essential

Research has shown that vitamin

K 2

has a pivotal effect on how

our bodies utilize calcium.

Higher levels of K 2

correlate with calcium

being deposited in bones,

where it helps to prevent

osteoporosis, while low

levels correlate with harmful

calcium deposits in arteries. In

Japan, vitamin K 2

is an approved

treatment for osteoporosis. It’s been

shown to stop decline in bone mineral

density and, in some cases, to reverse it.

Here are some research highlights:

*

Did You

Know?

Antibiotics and

cholesterol-lowering

drugs interfere with

vitamin K and can

deplete levels.

In the Netherlands, the effects of

vitamins K 1

and K 2

were examined

among 4,807 healthy men and women,

who were aged 55 or older at the

outset. Their diets and health

were monitored for up

to 10 years. Dietitians

calculated the amounts

of vitamins K 1

and K 2

in

participants’ diets and

found that those who

consumed the most K 2

developed the least coronary

artery disease and were least

likely to die. There was no similar

correlation with vitamin K 1

.

18 • JUNE 2019

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