Vitamin K Lowers Diabetes Risk, Decade-Long Study Shows

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A new study is showing promise for lowering the risk for type 2 diabetes. After following over 38,000 Dutch adults for over a decade, researchers found that adults who ate a diet high in vitamin K were about 20 percent less likely to be get type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Joline W.J. Beulens of the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands believes the findings are the first to show a relationship between vitamin K and diabetes risk. It's estimated that more than 23 million, or nearly 11 percent, of U.S. adults have type 2 diabetes.

Understand the risk factors of type two diabetes

It is important to understand the risk factors for type two diabetes. That includes older age, obesity, family history of diabetes and race. Black, Hispanic and Native Americans are at a much higher risk.

The study suggested that vitamin K a valuable nutrient for diabetics and exists in two natural forms. The first form is vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, found largely in green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, spinach, beet and turnip greens, broccoli and brussels sprouts as well as some vegetable oils, such as canola and soybean oils. The other type of vitamin K is vitamin K2, or menaquinone, which people get mainly through meat, cheese and eggs.

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The study from University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands suggested that both vitamins K1 and K2 were related to a lower diabetes risk, but the relationship was stronger with vitamin K2.

Beulens and researchers found, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes dipped for every 10-microgram (mcg) increase in vitamin K2 intake and one-quarter of participants with the highest intake were 20 percent less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.

With vitamin K1, no decreased risk was seen until consumption of the vitamin was relatively high. Similar to the findings with vitamin K2, the one-quarter of men and women who got the most vitamin K1 were 19 percent less likely to develop diabetes than the quarter with the lowest intake.

The researchers did take into accounted for a number of other important factors in diabetes risk such as age, body weight and exercise habit as well as dietary habits.

Researchers are unsure why the vitamin helps reduce the risk but Beulens and her colleagues note, there is evidence that vitamin K reduces systemic inflammation, which may improve the body's use of the blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin.

More research, they say, is needed both to confirm these findings to discover why vitamin K lowers diabetes risk.

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