Why people who eat leafy greens live longer

There’s a good reason everyone always tells you to eat your greens. They’re chock-full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that keep you happy and healthy — including vitamin K.

Vitamin K is essential to your body’s ability to clot blood, create bone, maintain healthy blood pressure and perform other important bodily functions. But the truth is, most people don’t give their vitamin K consumption a second thought.

That’s partly because vitamin K deficiency is rare in the U.S. But that doesn’t mean you should get complacent when it comes to getting enough vitamin K. In fact, here’s some serious motivation to stay on top of this important vitamin — a new study shows that Americans with lower vitamin K levels don’t live as long.

Getting less vitamin K makes you 19 percent more likely to die early

According to new research from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (USDA HNRCA) and Tufts Medical Center, people who get less vitamin K die sooner than people who get plenty.

The study included data from 4,000 Americans between 54 and 76 years old. Researchers closely examined vitamin K levels in their blood and looked at their heart disease risk and risk of death over a 13-year period. Here’s what they found…

People with lower blood levels of vitamin K were more likely to die. Their risk of death during the study period was 19 percent higher during the study period. They weren’t, however, more likely to have heart disease.

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That last part is good news… but it’s also confusing news. Vitamin K is known for its ability to help you maintain healthy blood vessels. In fact, there are proteins in vascular tissue that need vitamin K to do their job. These proteins protect artery walls from calcium-build up. So, it makes sense to assume that low vitamin K would be bad news for your heart disease risk. But according to this study anyway, it’s not.

This, however, also leaves researchers to wonder… if it isn’t heart disease killing people with low vitamin K levels, then what is it? That’s a question that will take more time (and research) to answer. For now, just know that vitamin K is crucial to a long and healthy life.

Kick up the K in your diet

The recommended daily intake of vitamin K is 120 mcg for men and 90 mcg for women. There are plenty of vitamin K-rich foods to turn to make sure you’re getting enough. Here are a few of the best:

  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Collard greens
  • Lettuce
  • Natto
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Chicken
  • Green beans
  • Pork
  • Prunes
  • Kiwi
  • Avocado
  • Green peas
  • Cheese

If you decide to take a vitamin K supplement to maintain healthy vitamin K levels, just know that they can interact with certain medications, like blood thinners, anticonvulsants and cholesterol-lowering medications. So, if you take medications, talk to your doctor first before adding vitamin K to your supplement regimen.

Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25 cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To find out about these and more, click here for the report your doctor hasn’t told you about!

Sources:

  1. Multi-ethnic study suggests vitamin K may offer protective health benefits in older age — MedicalXpress.
  2. Vitamin K status, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality: a participant-level meta-analysis of 3 US cohorts — The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
  3. Health benefits and sources of vitamin K — Medical News Today.
  4. Vitamin K — National Institutes of Health.
  5. Health benefits and sources of vitamin K — Medical News Today.
  6. 20 Foods That Are High in Vitamin K — Healthline.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.