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(Reuters Health) – People who get plenty of vitamin K from food may have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who get less of the vitamin, a new study suggests.


Researchers found that among more than 38,000 Dutch adults they followed for a decade, those who got the most vitamin K in their diets were about 20 percent less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes during the study period.

The findings appear to be the first to show a relationship between vitamin K and diabetes risk, and do not prove that the vitamin is the reason for the lower risk, write the researchers, led by Dr. Joline W.J. Beulens of the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Instead, they add, the results should fuel further research into whether vitamin K does play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

It’s estimated that more than 23 million, or nearly 11 percent, of U.S. adults have type 2 diabetes. The most important risk factors for type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, family history of diabetes and race — with black, Hispanic and Native Americans at higher risk than whites in the U.S. The extent to which specific nutrients in the diet might affect diabetes risk remains unclear.

Vitamin K exists in two natural forms: vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, found largely in green leafy vegetables, as well as some vegetable oils, such as canola and soybean oils; and vitamin K2, or menaquinone, which people get mainly through meat, cheese and eggs.