A vitamin C diet can help protect your health as you age. Experts suggest these 9 foods

Whether you’re popping vitamin C at the first sign of a cold or stocking up on probiotics to keep your gut health in check, you’re not alone in turning to nutritional supplements, with an estimated 75% of Americans using them.

Among the various types, vitamin K is gaining popularity for its potential benefits for healthy aging. Specifically, it is thought to help prevent age-related conditions such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

So is it time to start adding more vitamin K to your diet? Here’s what you need to know.

What is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so your body stores it in your fat tissue and liver, says Heather Viola, DO, a primary care physician at Mount Sinai Doctors-Ansonia. Fortune.

It is best known for its role in aiding blood clotting or proper coagulation. Blood clotting, or coagulation, is a process that helps your body reduce bleeding from an injury.

There are three forms of vitamin K:

  • Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone)
  • Vitamin K2 (menaquinone)
  • Vitamin K3 (menaphtone), which is a synthetic form of vitamin K is sometimes found in animal feed or pet food and is not intended for human consumption.

In addition to blood clotting, your body needs vitamin K to help maintain strong bones. People who have higher levels of vitamin K have higher bone density, while low levels of vitamin K have been found in those with osteoporosis, Viola says.

There is also research showing that vitamin K can help prevent and treat conditions such as coronary heart disease and cancer. A study published in the journal Oncology Letters found that treatment with vitamin K2 can positively inhibit the growth of cancer cells and reduce the risk of developing prostate and lung cancer.

Foods rich in vitamin K

Sources of vitamin K1 include:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Oils such as soybean and canola oil
  • Leafy greens, such as collards

Vitamin K2 can be found in:

  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Pork meat
  • Poultry
  • Fermented food

For adults 19 years and older, the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K is 120 micrograms for men and 90 micrograms for women. Vitamin K1 is the only form available in the United States as a supplement, Viola says. It is available as part of multivitamin complexes or alone in five milligram tablets.

While vitamin K deficiency in adults is rare, newborns are at greater risk due to very limited levels at birth. All newborn babies are required to receive vitamin K to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB). Newborns who do not receive vitamin K are 81 times more likely to develop severe bleeding than those who do.

Vitamin K Precautions

Your doctor may recommend a vitamin K supplement if you have a condition that causes excessive bleeding or prevents adequate absorption of vitamin K.

People who have health problems such as gallbladder or bile duct disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease and Crohn’s disease will benefit from a vitamin K supplement, Viola says. She notes that taking antibiotics for long periods of time can also impair vitamin K absorption.

If you take blood thinners such as warfarin, you should talk to your doctor before taking vitamin K supplements or increasing your intake of vitamin K foods. People taking blood-thinning medications should avoid supplemental vitamin K because it can alter the effects of these medications, Viola explains.

The anti-aging benefits of vitamin K

There is promising research that vitamin K provides some protection against age-related conditions such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and cardiovascular disease. An encouraging study in rats even suggests that vitamin K may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, although more studies are needed to determine the link.

When it comes to heart health, a study published in An open heart suggests that increased intake of vitamin K2 may reduce arterial stiffness, reduce the risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease, and improve survival rates in heart patients.

Since vitamin K is also a key player in maintaining bone health, those who are postmenopausal may benefit from a vitamin K supplement due to the increased risk of bone loss caused by decreased estrogen levels.

There is growing evidence that vitamin K improves bone health and reduces the risk of bone fractures, especially in postmenopausal women who are at increased risk for osteoporosis, Viola says. An Osteoporosis International A study found that taking a daily dose of 180 mcg of vitamin K2 helped reduce bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women.

Along these lines, vitamin K is also known to reduce the rate of bone fractures. Research has shown that low vitamin K intake is associated with an increased risk of hip fractures in both men and women. However, Viola points out that ongoing studies are still needed for the FDA to make an official recommendation on vitamin K for patients at risk of bone loss.

Because of the growing evidence that vitamin K is beneficial in reducing age-related problems, many people are eager to add more to their daily vitamin regimen. While most adults get sufficient amounts of vitamin K through a healthy diet, there is currently no evidence that higher doses of vitamin K cause negative side effects.

Bottom line? Vitamin K supplements are relatively safe and many people take them, especially postmenopausal women, Viola says.

Of course, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting a vitamin K supplement. And since there seems to be a range of benefits associated with vitamin K that go far beyond blood clotting, especially when it comes to healthy aging, it certainly doesn’t hurt to bring it up at your next visit.

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