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Vitamin K is for Kids


K deficiencies and heart health

A big heart in relationships and in life is a beautiful thing.  It represents desirable attributes like kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, and understanding.  However, if you literally have a big heart it could be due to an unhealthy enlargement of your heart’s major pumping chamber, the left ventricle (LV).  This condition is most often seen as a result of high blood pressure in adults whose hearts have been working overtime to pump blood out to the body.  Evidence suggests that this enlargement, considered a structural abnormality, may begin in childhood, increasing likelihood of cardiovascular disease as an adult. 

Researchers have begun to look to vitamin K in the diet because some adult studies have suggested reduced progression of cardiovascular disease (CVD) with adequate intake of the vitamin.  Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University set out to learn more about vitamin K intakes in children and how they relate to the condition.  Their study was published in The Journal of Nutrition.   

In this study 766, 14-18 year olds were given a full screening including height, weight, and LV structure and function via echocardiography.  Their diets were assessed for macronutrients like carbohydrates, protein, fat and vitamins including vitamin K, by a registered dietitian, 3-7 times over 12 weeks.  Interestingly, they found that only 25% of participants met the Adequate Intake (AI) for vitamin K.  As for the heart, LV enlargement was observed and it decreased as intake of vitamin K increased towards the AI.  This is believed to be the first study of its kind to look at this nutrient in the pediatric population. 

Need a refresher?  The name Vitamin K comes from the German word koagulation, in reference to the vitamin’s first-known role in blood clotting.  It’s a fat soluble vitamin that also helps strengthen bones, fight cancer and prevent heart disease.  Vitamin K can be found in two forms.  K1 from plant sources like green vegetables like kale, spinach, collards and broccoli, also the kind measured in the study, as well as K2 which is found in animal sources like meats and eggs.    Just one serving of our Vegetable and Kale Au Gratin provides 120% of the daily value.  

Published February 1, 2018

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