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What is Vascular Calcification?

  • Article
  • 2023-11-10

Vascular calcification, the accumulation of calcium in the blood vessels, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Recent scientific insights point to the crucial role of vitamin K in combating this condition, which can be of great importance for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

The Role of Vitamin K in the Body

Vitamin K is known for its role in blood clotting. There are two forms of vitamin K: K1 (phylloquinone), found mainly in green leafy vegetables, and K2 (menaquinone), found in fermented foods and some animal products. Recent research has shown that vitamin K, especially K2, also plays a key role in preventing vascular calcification.

Vitamin K and Vascular Health

Vascular calcification is a process in which calcium salts accumulate in blood vessel walls, leading to stiffening and narrowing of the vessels. This can restrict blood flow and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Vitamin K is essential for the activation of proteins that regulate calcium, such as Matrix Gla protein (MGP). MGP prevents the deposition of calcium in the vessel walls, making it an important factor in the prevention of vascular calcification.

Research

Several studies have examined the relationship between vitamin K intake and vascular health. A study published in the "Journal of Nutrition" found that higher vitamin K2 intake was associated with a lower risk of vascular calcification. Another study showed that vitamin K2 supplementation can slow the progression of vascular calcification in patients with chronic kidney disease, a group particularly susceptible to this condition.

Nutritional Sources and Supplementation

For optimal heart health, it is recommended to get enough vitamin K from the diet. Foods rich in vitamin K1 include green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli. Vitamin K2 is found primarily in fermented foods such as natto, a Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans, and in smaller amounts in meat and dairy products. For some people, such as those at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, vitamin K supplementation may be considered after consultation with a health professional.


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