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A Secret Weapon in the Fight Against Diabetes

A study published in the November 2008 edition of Diabetes Care found that vitamin K1 supplementation may decrease insulin resistance and provide protection against the development of diabetes in older men.

Vitamin K1 is the form of vitamin K found in nature.  It is common in green leafy vegetables. The main function of vitamin K in humans is to help blood coagulate.

For the 36 month study, researchers from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University recruited 355 non-diabetic men and women between the ages of 60 and 80. Participants either received a combination of vitamin K1 (500 mcg per day), vitamin D and calcium, or a placebo without vitamin K.

The researchers employed a homeostasis model which is used to measure the level of insulin resistance in all of the participants.

Insulin resistance is when muscle, fat, and liver cells do not use insulin properly.  The result is an excess buildup of glucose in the blood stream, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Analyzing the homeostasis model, researchers found that insulin resistance improved among the men who received the vitamin K supplementation.  No significant benefit was observed for the female participants.

The researchers are unsure about the mechanisms behind these results, and uncertain why the benefits weren't seen in women.  They recommend further studies to fill those gaps and note that weight may play a role in the results.  There were more obese women in the study than there were men.

With 24 million Americans suffering from diabetes, at a cost of over 170 billion dollars annually, vitamin K could become an important weapon in the battle to control this deadly and costly epidemic.

Early detection of insulin resistance may be helpful in preventing full blown diabetes.  Research has shown that early changes in diet and exercise can lower your risk of developing the disease.

If you are over 45, have high blood pressure, a family history of diabetes, or are overweight, you may want to get tested for diabetes regularly. Your doctor can give you a simple test to analyze your risk factors.
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