Back in the day, no one knew how bad smoking was. Heck, it was encouraged for health reasons. There were even brands of cigarettes that doctors RECOMMENDED.
Honestly, it’s amazing anyone ever trusted a doctor again.
That dreadful advice turned countless Americans onto the worst habit of all time. And many are still living with the damage to this day.
Some smoked long ago but quit. Others simply lived with a heavy pack-a-day chain-smoker inhaling their secondhand fumes. And then there are the smokers who are still lighting up today.
Of course, anyone who is still smoking should quit ASAP. That’s still the best course of action.
But new research reveals one more way to undo some of the damage of smoking, protect your health, and cut the risk of a major cause of death among smokers, ex-smokers, and nonsmokers alike.
Little-known vitamin helps protect smokers
Vitamin K doesn’t get a lot of attention. And one specific form… vitamin K2… gets even less. (Regular Healthier Talk readers might remember I recently wrote about this “lost” vitamin’s dementia-battling properties.)
But if you smoke—or if you’ve ever smoked or had friends and family who did—it’s time to put K2 on your radar. Because the new study finds it could help keep you alive and kicking, despite smoking.
Smokers have more calcifications in their blood vessels. Those are buildups that can lead to blockages and heart attacks. Calcifications are a key reason why smokers have a much higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
And the new study finds smokers have 17 TIMES the risk for their precursors, known as “microcalcifications,” in their blood vessels as nonsmokers.
But it turns out K2 could help. The nutrient acts like nature’s personal pipe cleaner.
This powerful vitamin doesn’t discriminate either. K2 can help keep your blood vessels free and clear no matter whether you’ve had a heavy smoking habit in the past or you’ve never touched the stuff before.
In other words, it could help with blood flow in both smokers and nonsmokers alike.
K2 fights smoking damage in blood vessels
The scientists ran some tests on human vascular smooth muscle cells. And they found providing the cells with K2 was like giving them a suit of armor to help protect against blood-flow blocking damage.
The K2 tackled the job in two ways.
- It helped block oxidative stress, which can accelerate atherosclerosis in your blood vessels while decreasing nitric oxide, preventing them from relaxing.
- It slowed the secretion of extracellular vesicles, which act like “garbage bags,” moving junk out of your cells and into your blood vessels.
These two steps, in turn, reduced those deadly calcifications.
This wasn’t a clinical trial. The research was done in the lab using human cells. So until it’s tested in people, we need to take the results with a grain of salt.
And if you’re currently still smoking, K2 alone won’t drastically improve your overall health, either. You need to quit.
But as an extra layer of protection against clogged arteries, K2 is one of the most promising natural therapies out there. And, as I mentioned earlier, even nonsmokers can benefit from this vitamin’s cardiovascular support.
It can be tough to get enough K2 from diet alone. A Japanese fermented soybean product called natto is loaded with it. But most American pallets don’t appreciate natto.
You can also pick up some K2 in other fermented foods, beef liver, egg yolks, and, my personal favorite, cheeses, including Munster, Camembert, and Edam.
However, if you want to assure you’re getting enough daily K2 to reap all of the vitamin’s potential benefits, a supplement might be your best choice.
But if you’re on a blood thinner such as warfarin, be sure to speak with your doctor before taking one. They don’t always mix well with K2 since they both aid with blood flow.