People with a higher dietary intake of vitamin K are significantly less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, according to a study conducted by researchers from University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands and published in the journal Diabetes Care.
Vitamin K, known to play a critical role in blood coagulation, comes in two forms: K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 is found primarily in green leafy vegetables, as well as certain fruits such as kiwifruit and avocado. Vitamin K2 is found in meat, eggs and dairy products, and is also synthesized by the human body. Because the vitamin can be produced by the body and is needed only in small quantities, deficiencies are rare except in those with underlying medical conditions.
In the new study, researchers followed more than 38,000 Dutch adults for more than 10 years, tracking their diet and lifestyle habits and overall health data. At the end of 10 years, they found that participants with the highest vitamin K1 intake were 19 percent less likely to have developed Type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest intake. Likewise, those with the highest vitamin K2 intake were 20 percent less likely to develop the disease than those with the lowest intake.
The U.S. government recommends a daily vitamin K intake (all forms combined) of 12 micrograms for men and 90 micrograms for women. Study participants with the highest intake were consuming between 250 and 360 micrograms per day.
Vitamin K1 appeared to be associated with decreased diabetes risk only at very high doses. In contrast, every 10 microgram increase in vitamin K2 intake led to a decrease in diabetes risk.
The researchers noted that since the study was correlational, they could not show whether vitamin K plays an active role in diabetes prevention or not. They did separate the effects seen from those of age, body weight, exercise and intake of fat, fiber, vitamin C and vitamin E, however.