Originally published October 18 2009
Scientists find lack of vitamin K could cause age-related diseases
by S. L. Baker, features writer
(NaturalNews) Here's a compelling reason to eat a variety of green, leafy vegetables regularly, including cabbage, cauliflower, Swiss chard and spinach: they could slow down the aging process and prevent a host of serious, life threatening diseases. The veggies' secret? These foods are rich sources of vitamin K. And a new analysis of dietary intakes of this nutrient strongly suggests that adequate amounts of vitamin K may prevent a wide range of age-related conditions such as weak bones, arterial and kidney calcification, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
The study, conducted by Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute scientists Joyce McCann, PhD, and Senior Scientist, Bruce Ames, PhD, involved reviewing data from hundreds of published articles dating back to the 1970's. Dr. Ames has been on the trail of how vitamins and other micronutrients positively affect health for years. In fact, back in 2006 he proposed his "triage" theory which states diseases associated with aging like cancer, heart disease and dementia -- as well as the rate of the aging process itself -- may be unintended consequences of mechanisms developed during evolution in order to protect humans when there were shortages of vitamin and mineral rich foods.
The new analysis, slated for publication in the October 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, strongly supports this theory and could have huge implications for preventive medicine because Dr. Ames believes even modest vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which are common, could result in age-related illnesses. His theory calls for a new scientifically based and consistent strategy for establishing what vitamin and mineral intakes are truly optimal and for looking for early biomarkers of chronic disease.
"Encouraging support for the triage theory from our vitamin K analysis suggests that experts aiming to set micronutrient intake recommendations for optimal function and scientists seeking mechanistic triggers leading to diseases of aging may find it productive to focus on micronutrient-dependent functions that have escaped evolutionary protection from deficiency," Dr. McCann said in a statement to the media.
Dr. Ames and Dr. McCann have announced plans to conduct a series of scientific literature-based reviews to test the basic ideas behind the triage theory. Their goal is to document how micronutrients may help halt disease. In a press release, a reviewer of the current vitamin K analysis stated it "...provides a unique perspective of consequences of vitamin K insufficiency and may serve as an important future reference, as new vitamin K dependent proteins are identified and new (non-clotting) functions of vitamin K are elucidated. More broadly, an assessment of micronutrient sufficiency from the perspective of triage theory may provide a valuable point of view, as current recommendations for nutrient intakes are reconsidered."
Interesting facts about vitamin KVitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin derived from the German word "koagulation", which refers to the fact the vitamin is essential for blood clot coagulation. However, while about half of the 16 known proteins that depend on vitamin K are necessary for blood coagulation, other vitamin K-dependent proteins are involved in a variety of different functions involving the skeletal, arterial, and immune systems.
As NaturalNews has previously reported, scientists have found that adequate vitamin K levels appear to play an important role in keeping inflammation in the body in check (http://www.naturalnews.com/023503_vitamin_K_...) and research is mounting that it can help prevent a loss of bone mass leading to osteoporosis, too (http://www.naturalnews.com/025231_vitamin_K_...).
In addition to food sources, vitamin K is made in the body by bacteria that line healthy gastrointestinal tracts. But people living in both the United States and the United Kingdom have been found to have far less than currently recommended intakes of the vitamin K. Moreover, those recommendations are only based on the amount of the vitamin mecessary for adequate blood coagulation, not for optimal health. The new analysis by Dr. McCann and Dr. Ames supports what many nutrition experts have claimed for years: higher intakes of vitamin K are needed for health than are currently recommended by mainstream medicine.
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