Vitamin K is a critical nutrientwidely known for its ability to promote normal blood clotting. A wealth of new informationdemonstrates that this vitamin in its multiple forms can provide a powerfulanti-inflammatory shield to protect against many lethal diseases of aging. Writingin theJournal of Nutrition, researchersshow that vitamin K works with other fat-soluble nutrients to protect the brainfrom arterial calcification that leads to a stroke or cognitive decline.
Vitamin K works to prevent thedeposition of calcium within arterial walls and ushers the mineral toward thenormal construction of bone throughout the body. The research provides proofthat eating a healthy diet to maintain adequate stores of vitamin K over alifetime can help prevent arterial hardening, atherosclerosis and cognitivedecline.
Vitamin K Slows Cognitive Decline by Supporting Brain Health
To determine the effect ofvitamin K on cognitivefunction, researchers studied three groups of mice that were broken into a low,adequate, or high level of vitamin K supplemented in their diet over the courseof their lifetime. Vitamin K is a fat soluble nutrient that can easily crossthe blood-brain barrier to provide antioxidant support to a critical organ composedprimarily of omega-3 fats.
Researchers found that vitamin K playsan important role in “maintaining thewhite matter region of the brain by supporting the myelin sheathing thatprotects axons, connecting glial cells together with axons, and facilitatingthe speed at which your brain functions.” Animals with the lowestsupplemental vitamin K levels displayed the highest degree of cognitive declineas they grew older, compared with the highest vitamin K group.
Vitamin K2 Inhibits Coronary Artery Calcification to Halt Heart Disease
Scientists publishing in the journalAtherosclerosis determined the effectof vitamin K on 564 post-menopausal women. The study was designed to contrastdietary intake of both the phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and menaquinone (vitaminK2) with coronary artery calcification (atherosclerosis or hardening of thearteries). Researchers found that the K2 form of vitamin K was associated witha significant decrease in coronary artery calcification, while vitamin K1 didnot appear to impact disease progression.
Dark green leafy vegetablesprovide a healthy dose of vitamin K1 but are not a significant source ofvitamin K2, the form shown to yield protection against arterial hardening anddementia. Fermented foods such as natto, egg yolks and certain cheeses providehigh levels of K2, although many people may choose to avoid these foods. Health-mindedindividuals will need to supplement with a quality supplement providing thefull range of vitamin K isomers (1000 - 2000 mcg per day) to avertatherosclerosis and cognitive function decline.