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What Type of Vitamin K is Best for Your Heart?

Results from a study published in the February 2009 issue of Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases indicate that vitamin K2, but not K1, may decrease the risk of heart disease in post-menopausal women.

The two main forms of vitamin K are called phylloquinone (K1) and menaquinone (K2). Vitamin K1 is the form found in nature and it makes up about 90 percent of the vitamin K consumption in a western diet.

Vitamin K2 is more difficult to come by. It is most common in fermented foods like cheese but can also be found in meat, green leafy vegetables and milk products. It needs to be synthesized by intestinal bacteria for your body to use. So antibiotics - which kill both good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract - have been shown to reduce vitamin K2 absorption.

For the study, a group of researchers from the Netherlands analyzed data from the Prospect-EPIC cohort study, which included 16,057 post-menopausal women between the ages of 49 and 70.

The Prospect-EPIC is one of the two Dutch studies being used in the large scale European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.

The participants were followed for more than 8 years and each completed a food frequency questionnaire so that researchers could measure dietary intake, including vitamin K consumption. At the end of the study period 480 cases of heart disease had been diagnosed.

After analyzing all of the data, researchers found that for every 10 mcg increase in vitamin K2 consumption there was a 9 percent reduction in the risk of developing heart disease. No link was found between K1 and lower risk of heart disease.

K vitamins are vital to your body because they coagulate blood. Without adequate levels of vitamin K you would bleed to death. But a growing body of research is showing that vitamin K benefits go beyond blood coagulation and may include bone and joint health, cell growth and reducing disease risk.
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