Unless you have been hiding under a nutritional news rock, you’ve heard about the importance of vitamin D — again and again and again. There’s a new vitamin that is about to get a 24/7 news feed; it’s K.
The results of a scientific review conducted by investigators at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute suggest that the current recommendations for vitamin K need to be increased to ensure optimal health. As of now, the recommendations are based on making sure that adequate blood coagulation occurs. The new findings suggest that vitamin K could also help in preventing bone fragility, arterial and kidney calcification, cardiovascular disease and possibly cancer.
The paper, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also makes an argument for the “triage” theory. This theory, first introduced in 2006 by researcher Dr. Bruce Ames, explains how age-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and dementia, could possibly be the consequences of evolutionary mechanisms designed to protect against vitamin and mineral shortages.
Specifically, how our body reacts to episodic vitamin and mineral shortages and our survival depends on getting the optimum intake of all vitamins and minerals, since doing so may have incredible implications for preventing disease. If this theory is correct, micronutrient deficiencies could trigger cancer, aging and neural decay. (McCann et al. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27930.)
The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: K is lesser known than its other known alphabet counterparts. But this review suggests that its role in our health is more important than once thought. The best way to ensure optimal blood levels of vitamin K is to take a supplement made with K2, which research has shown to be the most effective supplemental form. You can get the two main forms of vitamin K from green leafy vegetables (vitamin K1, or phylloquinone) and meat and cheese (vitamin K2, or menaquinones).