Vitamin K is the wallflower of the nutrient world.
Other more popular vitamins such as C and D tend to get all the attention. Even the shy Bs get taken for some spins around the dance floor.
But most folks never give a thought to quiet and unassuming vitamin K.
That, it turns out, could be a big mistake. Especially if you’re a senior. Because experts are now warning that low vitamin K levels could send your risk for an early death skyrocketing.
In fact, a new study finds seniors with the lowest K levels are far more likely to die prematurely than their peers with healthy levels.
Low vitamin K could harm your health
For the meta-analysis, researchers crunched the data from almost 4,000 folks between the ages of 54 and 76.
The study participants were categorized according to their vitamin K levels. And then, the research team compared their K status to their risks for…
- heart disease
- early death
In the approximately 13-years’ worth of data, the study didn’t reveal a statistically significant link between K levels and heart disease. But another pattern DID emerge.
The folks with the LOWEST vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) levels had a 19 percent HIGHER risk of an early death compared to those who were getting plenty of this often-overlooked vitamin. And when you learn how vital K is, it’s really no wonder.
You see, vitamin K1 might not get much fanfare. But it’s essential for blood clotting. Without it, we literally would bleed to death.
Plus, once converted from K1 into K2 (menaquinone) by beneficial bacteria in the intestines, K2 plays a critical role in bone metabolism and maintaining healthy blood vessels by helping to ward off damaging calcium buildup.
Low levels of K are also associated with chronic diseases. And research has found they’re linked to reduced mobility in older adults. That can make everyday activities like stair climbing, shopping, and taking care of the chores a challenge.
In other words, running low on vitamin K could stand in your way of living your life to the fullest. Plus, it could end up giving you LESS of it to live.
Raise your K levels naturally
That’s the bad news. But the good news is it’s easy to turn your vitamin K status back around. Even better? The solution is downright tasty.
You can punch vitamin K1’s dance card and boost your levels by eating more delicious leafy green vegetables, including lettuce, kale, spinach, broccoli, dandelion greens, Swiss chard, and cabbage.
But don’t fall for the push to use more vegetable and soybean oils. You can indeed increase your vitamin K levels with them. But you could end up paying a stiff price.
Vegetable oils are high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Now with a perfectly balanced diet, that wouldn’t be a problem since you’d be getting plenty of inflammation-calming omega-3s fatty acids to even things out. And in fact, you do need some of BOTH omegas in your diet.
But the Western diet is already far too high in omega-6s and far too low in omega-3s, to begin with. Which means vegetable oils could be adding more inflammatory fuel to the fire. And many experts believe inflammation is at the heart of most major diseases we battle today, including heart disease.
Even worse, vegetable and soybean oils are almost always produced from crops that have been genetically modified to resist pesticides. That means they’ve been exposed to these chemicals, which research suggests may be associated with significant health problems. In fact, studies have uncovered potential links to allergic reactions, liver disease, and even cancer.
Stick to the leafy greens to boost your K1 levels and ditch the questionable oils. And to raise your K2 levels directly, you can turn to animal and fermented foods. Some good sources include grass-fed beef, eggs, sauerkraut, miso, natto, and liver.
But just one word of caution for folks on a blood thinner such as warfarin. Since K1 is a natural blood thinner, you should talk to your doc before increasing the number of leafy greens in your diet.