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Keep Your Heart Healthy with Vitamin K

K takes it away

In the July 2000 issue of Nutrition & Healing (available free online to subscribers), Dr. Wright laid out many health benefits of vitamin K, including protection against tooth decay, relief from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, and reversal of soft bones to name a few.

The latest study shows that individuals with high vitamin K levels experienced a 41 percent reduction in “incident cardiac heart disease.” This means they had fewer fatal and nonfatal heart attacks, sudden cardiac death, and other forms of is chemic heart disease compared to those whose levels of vitamin K were lower.

Keep in mind, though, that all the research in the world won’t make vitamin K any more profitable for the pharmaceutical industry since it’s a natural substance that can’t be patented or deliver monster profits. So it may not get the recognition it deserves any time soon. But you don’t have to wait around for it to hit the newspaper headlines. You can get all of its benefits now from food sources and supplements.

Vitamin K is largely found in dark leafy greens. As for supplements, there are three forms of vitamin K: K1, K2, and K3. There are also natural and synthetic varieties — and as usual, natural is more effective. However, none of them are found very widely in the health food store since it is not the most in-demand vitamin of the lot. Dr. Wright advises 5 to 15 milligrams per day. Since vitamin K is fat-soluble it must be consumed with at least a small amount of fat to be absorbed by the system.

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Spotting the evidence

Q: For about 15 years I’ve had mysterious red spots on my shins. I’ve asked several doctors about them but never received a satisfactory answer. Still, they have to be caused by something. I know it’s a long shot, but have you ever run into this symptom in your practice?

JVW: Actually, I have. In fact, I learned about shin spots early in medical school. Discolored spots on the shins are often an early sign of impending Type II (adult onset) diabetes. The spots are usually red or brownish-red and are generally slow spreading. They are also called diabetic dermopathy, and while not exclusive to diabetes, they can be an accurate indicator of the disease itself or a predisposition to it.

I often suspect this condition when these spots are present in my patients, and when they have any of the other major risk factors for diabetes including: family history of the disease, skin tags, obesity or excess weight, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), or the combination of high blood pressure with high triglycerides and cholesterol.

If you have even one of these risk factors, you’ll want to have a Glucose Insulin Tolerance Test (GITT) performed. There’s no faster way to find out your status related to diabetes. To find a doctor who can help you with the GITT test, contact the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) by visiting www.acam.org.

For more information about preventing diabetes, please refer to the August 2001 issue of Nutrition & Healing, available to subscribers on the website.

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What is…GITT?

The glucose-insulin tolerance test (GITT) was developed in the 70′s by Dr. Joseph Kraft. It was a breakthrough in diabetes screening because it is much more accurate than an ordinary glucose tolerance test (GTT) when it comes to detection and prediction of the disease — sometimes even a decade or two in advance of initial symptoms.

Such an early warning sign, plus changes in diet and lifestyle, can give a patient a tremendous opportunity to change the course or even avert the development of Type II diabetes and its complications altogether.

Yours in good health,
Amanda Ross
Managing Editor
Nutrition & Healing

Sources:

Geleijnse JM, et al. “Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study.” J Nutr 2004; 134(11): 3,100-3,105

Danowski TS, Sabeh G, Sarver ME, Shelkrot J, Fisher ER. “Shin spots and diabetes mellitus.” Am J Med Sci 1966; 251(5): 570-575

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