Public health messages consistently tell you that food has a direct and critical impact on your heart. We know a diet high in inflammatory foods can adversely affect cardiovascular health, but several other nutrients play an essential role in keeping your heart healthy.
Vitamin K and Omega-3 fatty acids are two of these special nutrients –and each one has unique properties to support your cardiovascular system.
When you think about diet and heart health, what comes to mind? For most people, it’s cholesterol. While cholesterol levels are important, there are other factors that you should also pay attention to.
Oneof these factorsis arterial calcification. Arterial calcification is the accumulation of calcium in your arteries that can harden them and make it difficult for blood flow to penetrate.
Healthy arteries are elastic and flexible, which allows for the expansion of blood flow as it moves throughout your body. Calcification hampers this process by restricting movement. Arterial calcification also leads to a loss of elasticity and stiffness—both significant risk factors for cardiovascular health events.
Another significant risk factor for adverse cardiovascular health concerns is elevated triglycerides. Similar to cholesterol, triglycerides are a type of fat that can build up in the bloodstream. They are associated with inflammatory biomarkers and increased adverse health risks, even when cholesterol levels are normal.
Elevated triglycerides occur for several reasons, but diet is a major player. Diets high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, alcohol, and even excessive fructose can contribute to high triglycerides.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble essential vitamin. While it’s typically known as a vitamin that supports healthy blood clotting, it contributes much more to your body. It’s critical for bone health, which is part of why it also helps keep your arteries healthy. Small amounts of vitamin K are also synthesized by your gut bacteria.
There are two categories of vitamin K:
Vitamin K, especially K2, can help send calcium to your hard tissues—like bone and teeth—instead of soft tissues like your arteries. As a result, it can help support the movement of calcium out of your arteries, where it can build up and lead to arterial calcification.
Vitamin K also acts as a cofactor along with vitamin D for building these hard tissues. So not only does it help shuttle calcium from your arteries, but it also helps with the vital task of strengthening bones and teeth.
Studies show reduced cardiovascular events, mortality, and arterial calcification for people who take in more vitamin K2. Vitamin K may support reductions in stiffness and improved measurements of arterial health, especially those with more severe stiffness. Vitamin K may also help by blocking the action of inflammatory cytokines that contribute to calcification.
Many people take calcium to optimize bone health, especially as they age. However, some physicians suggest that vitamin K should be considered to ensure that supplemental calcium supports bone building without the increased risks of arterial calcification.
Ourdietaryintake of vitamin K1 is usually higher than K2, primarily from vegetables like leafy greens and broccoli. While your body can convert vitamin K1 to vitamin K2, it likely doesn’t make enough, so getting it through diet or supplementation is often necessary.
In addition to leafy greens for vitaminK1, foods high in vitamin K2 include:
✓ Dark chicken
✓ Egg yolk
However, the recommended intake for vitamin K was made to ensure healthy blood clotting but does not necessarily consider our current understanding of vitamin K for heart health. Therefore higher amounts are likely needed to support both cardiovascular and bone health.
While K1 is relatively easy to get from your diet, K2 is more challenging, especially for people who limit their intake of animal products. And while natto, a fermented soy product, is one of the best sources of vitamin K2, the texture or taste is an acquired preference for many. Supplements won’t replace optimal food choices, but they can effectively help your each an optimal intake
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that have been well studied for their anti-inflammatory benefits. They may support cardiovascular health in several ways, including lowering triglyceride levels.
There are several forms of omega-3 fatty acids, but EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are especially supportive for heart health. These two fatty acids are found primarily in fish. While your body can make small amounts of EPA and DHA from other sources, it’s a small amount, so food or supplements are needed to get enough.
Many studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can support triglyceride reductions to help with risks of cardiovascular health concerns. For example, a large study examining the effect of a high-dose form of omega-3 found that supplementation significantly reduced the number of cardiovascular-related health events for people who were on medications for cholesterol but still had elevated triglycerides. Another extensive review of more than eighty studies found that, on average, omega-3 supplementation reduced triglyceride levels by fifteen percent.
Optimal nutrition plays a huge role in wellness, especially heart health. There are many ways to support cardiovascular health, but vitamin K and omega-3s can be especially beneficial. Make sure you get enough of these powerful nutrients in your diet or with supplementation to help support healthy arteries and triglyceride levels.
Disclaimer: The information is for general education purposes only. These therapies are not substitutions for standard medical care and are not meant to be used by a patient alone. The Company assumes no liability for the author’s information, whether conveyed verbally or in these materials. All presentations represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the position or the opinion of the Company. Reference by the author to any specific product, process or service by trade name, trademark, or manufacturer does not constitute or imply endorsement or recommendation by the Company.