Vitamin K for the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease (Review) by Hartley L, Clar C, Ghannam O, Flowers N, Stranges S, Rees K.
“A deficiency in vitamin K has been associated with increased calcium deposition and coronary artery calcification, which may lead to cardiovascular disease.”
Vitamin K is a group of beneficial, fat-soluble vitamins that aid in regulating calcium in the blood, bone metabolism, and blood clotting. This vitamin is essential for producing prothrombin, a protein that is important for the functions mentioned above.
A deficiency of vitamin K can lead to an increase in blood clotting, which can cause excessive bleeding and hemorrhage. The vitamin K group contains two types of vitamins: K1 and K2. The former vitamin is the important one and is mostly found in leafy green vegetables, while the latter is found in animal products and fermented food.
Vitamin K1 Food Sources
- Turnip greens
- Collard greens
- Brussels sprouts
Vitamin K2 Food Sources
- Soft cheese
- Pork sausages
- Hard cheese
- Chicken (especially the leg and thigh)
- Pork chop (with the bone)
- Egg yolk
In order to know which vitamin K reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, you need to know the difference between the two vitamins.
Differences Between Vitamin K1 and K2
As mentioned earlier, the production of prothrombin is how vitamin K boosts the body’s blood clotting process and other functions. However, vitamins K1 and K2 are absorbed and transported differently in the body, which means they benefit the body differently too.
Vitamin K1 is absorbed poorly by the body because it’s plant-based. In fact, less than 10% K1 is absorbed by the body. On the other hand, K2 is found in fatty foods, which means its absorption rate is much better. By eating healthy food, vitamin K is better absorbed, which is why K2 circulates longer in the blood. It can remain in the body for days, which is why it is better used by the tissues. On the other hand, K1 is used by the liver.
Vitamin K and Cardiovascular Disease
Calcium deposits can lead to heart problems. The activation of a protein by vitamin K in the body can prevent calcium deposits from blocking the arteries. Since calcium leads to the buildup of plaque, a deficiency in vitamin K can lead to cardiovascular disease.
Since K2 remains longer in the body, it is better at protecting the heart. According to a study published in the journal of Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases (NMCD), vitamin K2 is good at lowering the risk associated with coronary heart disease. Another study published in the journal Atherosclerosis looked at 564 post-menopausal women who were given phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and menaquinone (vitamin K2). The results showed that K2 worked significantly better than K1 in reducing coronary calcification.
This brings us to the conclusion that vitamin K2 works better at protecting the heart from calcium deposits.