How Do Vitamin D and K work together to support cardiovascular health?

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Vitamins D and K are essential for bone health and the body’s blood clotting mechanism. Recent studies have shown that vitamins D and K have synergistic effects that can benefit cardiovascular health. Low levels of vitamins K and D were strongly associated with the risk of all-cause death compared to those with normal levels. This article will review what vitamins K and D are and how they can benefit the heart.

What is vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin found in different foods and can be taken as a dietary supplement. Vitamin K plays a role in the body’s production of proteins associated with blood clotting. Some anticoagulants prevent vitamin K from producing blood clotting.

Vitamin K has two components: K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 is mainly found in leafy vegetables and is the main dietary form of vitamin K. Vitamin K2, on the other hand, is located in animal-derived and fermented foods such as cheese and yogurt. In addition, your gut bacteria also make some vitamin K2.

Vitamin K appears to help prevent the calcification of blood vessel walls, which is why there has been a lot of research into how vitamin K can help prevent atherosclerosis and support cardiovascular health. Vitamin K is stored in the liver and other body tissues, including the brain, heart, and bones. Unfortunately, not all vitamin K is stored in the body; 50% is passed out of the body in feces and 20% in urine, which is one reason why leafy greens are recommended as part of a healthy diet. Among other nutrients, leafy greens contain vitamins A, C, and E, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. They’re also rich in carotenoids, antioxidants, and fiber.

What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D, also known as calciferol, is another fat-soluble vitamin found in some foods, added to other foods, such as milk, and taken as a dietary supplement. What’s unique about vitamin D is that when you’re exposed to sunlight, your body makes Vitasol D; That’s why it’s also known as the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in your bones and prevents calcium from accumulating in your blood. Not enough vitamin D can put you at risk for weak bones, and a lack of vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis. In children, vitamin D protects against a condition called rickets.

Vitamin D comes in two primary forms: D2 and D3. The main active ingredient in the body is vitamin D2. Sources of vitamin D include salmon, trout, tuna, and fish oil. Other foods containing vitamin D include mushrooms and egg yolks. Some foods fortified with vitamin D include milk, margarine, cheese, ice cream, and plant-based milk substitutes for soy, almonds, or oats. After that, your body can make its vitamin D: you must get some sun. Time of day, clouds, smog, and skin melanin levels affect how much sunlight is absorbed. It’s important to note that it’s essential to protect yourself from excessive UV exposure, which can lead to severe skin conditions. Applying anti-sun creams can help protect your skin, but this also prevents you from absorbing UV rays to make vitamin D. This is why many foods are fortified, and vitamin D supplements are recommended.

Cardiovascular risk factors
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular disease has become the leading cause of death worldwide, with an estimated 17.9 million people dying of CVD (cardiovascular disease) in 2019. Cardiovascular diseases include:

Coronary atherosclerosis is a disease of the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart that can lead to heart attacks.
Cerebrovascular disease is a disease of the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain that can lead to strokes.
Peripheral artery disease is a disease of the blood vessels in the arms and legs.
Heart attacks and strokes occur when blood flow to the heart or brain is blocked, usually because of a build-up of fatty acids in the blood vessels supplying the heart and brain. The key to cardiovascular disease is that most illnesses can be prevented by making lifestyle changes and reducing risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases, such as smoking, obesity, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol consumption.

Critical risk factors that need to be optimized for cardiovascular disease prevention are unhealthy diet and smoking cessation. Reducing the consumption of processed foods containing salt, avoiding tobacco products, and limiting alcohol consumption may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and getting regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day are two practices that can help you prevent cardiovascular disease.

The synergistic action of vitamin K and D
According to the Journal of Nutrition, vitamins D and K synergistically affect cardiovascular health. These vitamin deficiencies are associated with high blood pressure and increased arterial wall thickness. Vitamin D has been shown to stimulate the production of vitamin K-dependent proteins. While you can take vitamin D or K supplements alone, bringing them together may have a better-combined effect.

Dal Canto et al. studied 601 people aged 70 and older. They found that participants with low levels of vitamins D and K had a higher body mass index (BMI), a higher prevalence of chronic diseases (such as type 2 carbohydrates), and higher blood pressure than those with normal levels. In addition, participants with low levels of vitamin D and K had higher heart attack medication use rates. Then, of the 601 participants, 321 with chronic conditions with high blood pressure also had changes in the heart muscle structure, and these people also had lower levels of vitamins D and K.

In VINDICATE studies (the effect of vitamin D on heart function in patients with chronic heart failure), high doses of vitamin D supplements, about 4,000 international units (IU), help optimize heart function, which means the heart pumps better when taken in high doses. Women with higher levels of vitamin K, but not men, had an optimization in their left ventricular mass index, which shows how big their hearts are and how well they are working because of high blood pressure.

The recommended intake of vitamins D and K
In addition to eating green leafy vegetables, many multivitamin supplements contain about 75 percent of your daily allowance for vitamin K if you’re interested in increasing your intake. Other dietary supplements contain only vitamin K but can be taken with other nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, or vitamin D. The recommended daily allowance for vitamin K is 120 micrograms for men and 90 micrograms for women. Talk to your medical health provider before taking vitamin K supplements, as vitamin K can interact with other formulations, especially if you’re taking one that helps prevent blood clots from forming.

In addition to eating fish and milk and exposure to sunlight to make vitamin D, you can also take multivitamin supplements containing vitamin D on your own or with calcium. Vitamin D is measured in micrograms and international units (IU), where one microgram is 40 IU. The recommended daily intake for adults under 70 is 600 IU or 15 micrograms; For people 70 years or older, the recommended daily intake is 800 IU. Many professional associations recommend higher amounts, and the Endocrine Society recommends 1,500 to 2,000 IU per day for adults.


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