Hard target

While we’re on the subject of medication risks, here’s another one for you: If you happen to be on blood pressure drugs, low levels of vitamin K1 may pave the way to arterial calcification. (That’s artery hardening, in plainer language.)

High blood pressure speeds up the process of stiffening arteries. So this may seem like a counterintuitive discovery. But the numbers don’t lie.

Researchers reviewed data from almost 300 subjects with arterial calcification and compared it with data from more than 500 healthy controls. They also tested blood levels of vitamin K1 in both groups.

Results showed that subjects with extreme coronary artery calcification were 34 percent more likely to have low vitamin K1 levels. But the link was only statistically significant in subjects taking blood pressure drugs.

Considering how popular these medications are among heart disease patients, well… excuse the pun, but this is a hard finding to ignore.

The study authors still don’t know if increasing vitamin K1 intake can help to keep your arteries from hardening. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to squeeze a little more into your diet. Especially since deficiency might be more common than once thought.

Dark leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli are all great sources of vitamin K–not to mention a laundry list of other health-boosting nutrients.

Association between circulating vitamin K1 and coronary calcium progression in community-dwelling adults: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 May 29.