Heart conditions have become extremely common in recent times. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally, as per the World Health Organization (WHO).
The global health body estimates suggest 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2019, representing 32% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke.
Additionally, with an increase in the number of young people succumbing to cardiovascular problems like heart attack, heart failure and cardiac arrest, it has become all the more important to take proper care and caution to improve our heart health.
Surprisingly, sufficient intake of one vitamin may help reduce your risk of heart diseases: Vitamin K.
Role of vitamin K
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that is necessary for blood clotting, wounds to heal and bone health.
It comes in two types namely vitamin K, also known as phylloquinone, and vitamin K2 or menaquinone. Both these two forms of vitamin K produce proteins involved in coagulation of blood clotting.
According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, vitamin K refers to a group of fat-soluble compounds involved in coagulation, bone development, and cardiovascular health.
Furthermore, it states, “Vitamin K deficiency can contribute to significant bleeding, poor bone development, osteoporosis, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Does vitamin K lower heart disease risk?
A study conducted by researchers from New Edith Cowan University (ECU) found that people who consume vitamin K-rich diets are at 34% lower risk of atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease – the conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels.
Senior author on the study Dr Nicola Bondonno said the findings suggest that consuming more vitamin K may be important for protection against atherosclerosis and subsequent cardiovascular disease.
The UK’s National Health Services (NHS) recommends 1 microgram a day of vitamin K for each kilogram of body weight for adults.
Understanding your risk factor for heart disease
As per the WHO, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol are certain behavioural risk factors of heart disease and stroke.
“The effects of behavioural risk factors may show up in individuals as raised blood pressure, raised blood glucose, raised blood lipids, and overweight and obesity. These “intermediate risk factors” can be measured in primary care facilities and indicate an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and other complications,” explains the global health agency.
Furthermore, the WHO recommends: “Cessation of tobacco use, reduction of salt in the diet, eating more fruit and vegetables, regular physical activity and avoiding harmful use of alcohol to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Symptoms of vitamin K deficiency
There are wide-ranging symptoms of vitamin K deficiency, of which excessive bleeding is the most common.
Other symptoms include:
– Frequent and easy bruising
– Small blood clots under the nails
– Bleeding in the mucous membranes that line areas in the body
– Dark black stool, with blood sometimes
Best source of vitamin K
The NHS recommends getting most of your vitamin K fill from eating a balanced diet.
Foods such as green leafy vegetables, including spinach, kale, lettuce, and broccoli, vegetable oils, fruits like blueberries and figs, eggs, cheese, meat including liver, chickpeas, soybeans and green tea are some of the best sources of vitamin K.
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