A new study has found that a diet rich in vitamin K may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease from atherosclerosis (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels).
The results of the study were published in the ‘Journal of the American Heart Association’.
Researchers looked at data from more than 50,000 people participating in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study over a 23-year period.
They investigated whether people who ate more foods containing vitamin K had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease linked to atherosclerosis (a buildup of plaque in the arteries).
There are two types of Vitamin K in the foods we eat: Vitamin K1 comes primarily from green leafy vegetables and vegetable oils, while Vitamin K2 is found in meat, eggs, and fermented foods like cheese.
The study found that people with the highest intakes of vitamin K1 were 21% less likely to be hospitalized for cardiovascular disease linked to atherosclerosis. For vitamin K2, the risk of being hospitalized was 14% lower.
This lower risk was observed for all types of heart disease related to atherosclerosis, especially peripheral artery disease at 34%.
ECU researcher and study lead author Dr Nicola Bondonno said the results suggest that consuming more vitamin K may be important for protection against atherosclerosis and subsequent cardiovascular disease.
âCurrent dietary guidelines for vitamin K consumption are generally only based on how much vitamin K1 a person should be consuming to ensure their blood can clot,â said Dr. Bondonno.
“However, there is growing evidence that vitamin K intakes above current recommendations may offer additional protection against the development of other diseases, such as atherosclerosis,” added Dr Bondonno.
âAlthough more research is needed to fully understand the process, we believe that vitamin K works by protecting against calcium build-up in the main arteries of the body leading to vascular calcification,â explained Dr. Bondonno.
University of Western Australia researcher Dr Jamie Bellinge, first author of the study, said that the role of vitamin K in cardiovascular health and in particular in vascular calcification is an area of ââresearch offering great potential. promising hope for the future.
“Cardiovascular disease remains a major cause of death in Australia and there is still limited understanding of the importance of the various vitamins found in foods and their effect on heart attacks, strokes and peripheral arterial disease.” said Dr Bellinge.
“These findings highlight the potentially important effect of vitamin K on fatal disease and reinforce the importance of a healthy diet to prevent it,” concluded Dr Bellinge.
Next steps in the research
Dr Bondonno said that while the databases on vitamin K1 content in foods are very comprehensive, there is currently much less data on vitamin K2 content in foods. absorbed and act differently in our body.
“The next phase of the research will involve the development and improvement of databases on the content of vitamin K2 in foods. Further research on different food sources and the effects of different types of vitamin K2 is a priority,” said Dr Bondonno.
In addition, there is a need for an Australian database on the vitamin K content of Australian foods (eg vegemite and kangaroo).
To meet this need, study collaborator Dr Marc Sim has just completed the development of an Australian database on vitamin K content in foods which will be published soon.
The research is part of the ECU Nutrition Research Institute. It was a collaboration with researchers at the University of Western Australia, Royal Perth Hospital, Herlev and Gentofte University Hospital in Denmark and the Danish Cancer Society Research Center.
The Nutrition Research Institute was established as a strategic research institute of the ECU in 2020.