If you’re like me, you probably take omega-3 fatty acids every day. They’re a great way to fight heart disease, stroke, dementia, and many other health problems. But did you know there’s a simple way to make these supplements work even better?
There’s an underappreciated vitamin that works with omega-3 fatty acids to help your brain stay young and healthy and your arteries to remain soft and supple. That underappreciated vitamin is vitamin K.
Vitamin K is best known for its ability to help your blood clot normally. But two new studies say that vitamin K works with other fat-soluble nutrients to protect your brain and arteries.
In the first study, researchers divided a group of mice into three smaller groups. They gave the mice low, adequate, or high doses of vitamin K throughout their life. They found that those with the lowest levels of vitamin K had the highest degree of cognitive decline.
In the second study, researchers found that vitamin K2 prevented hardening of the arteries in 564 postmenopausal women.
Vitamin K protects the brain and arteries in a few ways. First, it helps calcium stay where the body most needs it — in the bones — and out of the soft tissues (arteries and brain). This keeps bones strong and soft tissues soft. Second, it easily crosses through the blood-brain barrier and provides the brain with necessary antioxidants. And third, vitamin K works with omega-3 fatty acids to help your brain and arteries stay young and healthy.
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Thanks to these two studies (among others), we now know that vitamin K works alongside, if not synergistically with fish oil to keep your mind sharp and your arteries soft and supple.
But here’s a little-known fact: If you take fish oil, it’s quite possible you’re low in vitamin K. Why? While the research is still sketchy, omega-3s seem to rely on vitamin K to work effectively — and they appear to use up your stores of the vitamin. So it’s vital you take plenty of vitamin K in supplement form.
Most integrative doctors recommend between 1,000 and 2,000 mcg per day. And most research suggests the best form to use is vitamin K2, which you can find at any health food store. Since your liver doesn’t store vitamin K, there doesn’t appear to be any danger of toxicity from high doses.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.
Atherosclerosis, 26 August 2008.
The Journal of Nutrition, April 30, 2011.