Vitamin K Is More Than OK!

hh-article-5.jpgAn overlooked nutrient is found to be valuable for bones, arteries, immune support, memory and heart health.

Vitamin K is almost unknown to many, but it’s essential for heart health and to keep our bones strong. Even many common multivitamins neglect to include it. Those that do don’t usually contain nearly enough. Are you getting enough to keep your heart healthy?

Most people don’t realize how important it is to supplement with vitamin K. Danish scientist Henrik Dam discovered the vitamin in 1929 and named it ‘K’ for ‘koagulation,’ since he found it to be essential for the coagulation of blood. It is supplied to us in green leafy vegetables like collard greens, spinach, kale and watercress, so most people are mildly deficient from their diet, or at least aren’t getting the optimal amounts. Although obscure to many Americans, vitamin K is the vitamin of the future because of how well it combats aging. Vitamin K is even more potent than vitamin E or Co-Q10 as an antioxidant! There’s compelling evidence that it improves heart health, provides immune system support and can enhance memory.

Vitamin K is involved in the formation of a protein called MGP, which is required to prevent calcification of the arteries. By regulating the calcium in our arteries and skeletons, vitamin K makes our bones, vessels and hearts stronger.

This fat-soluble vitamin is non-toxic and should be consumed along with some fat or oil in the diet. Phylloquinone, (vitamin K1) is found in green plants, while menaquinone, (K2) is created by the good bacteria that line the walls of our gut.

Menadione (vitamin K3) is not a naturally occurring vitamin, but a synthetic analogue that acts like a provitamin (a substance that can be converted into vitamins by your body). The tumor-fighting abilities of K3 have been under investigation since the 1940s. Vitamin K has been shown to increase survival times in lab rats with bronchial carcinoma, liver cancer, and leukemia. Many survived four times longer by taking vitamin K, particularly if taken in combination with vitamin C.

Research also shows that vitamin K, when used with vitamin D, can increase bone density in postmenopausal women. This supplementation is particularly important for women who have minimal exposure to sunlight.

The intestinal absorption of vitamin K is about six times greater when taken in a concentrated tablet compared to getting this nutrient from eating fresh vegetables.

Those at greatest risk of needing vitamin K are those whose normal intestinal flora has been impaired from the use of antibiotics, salicylates (aspirin), or anti-seizure medications. Because of medication use and generally poor diets, most of us have less than optimal flora in our colon. We also don’t eat large enough amounts of greens, so the majority of us could benefit by supplementing with additional vitamin K to ensure good bone, immune, vascular and heart health.

Some people with atrial fibrillation, artificial heart valves or severe blood clots are put on blood thinners (like Warfarin). Most of these anticoagulants work by inhibiting the clotting factors which are dependent on vitamin K for their synthesis. Individuals who are taking blood thinners should not take vitamin K as a supplement. With those rare exceptions, most of the rest of us would benefit by taking 100 mcg of vitamin K daily for good bone, artery and heart health.

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