Fortunately, there are a handful of natural compounds that help negate the deadly effects of excess sugar. Vitamin K is one such agent, as it is shown to lower the risk of developing diabetes in an elderly cohort by more than 50 percent. Researchers publishing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have determined that individuals with the highest circulating levels of vitamin K1 have a total diabetes risk reduction of 51 percent as compared to those with the lowest levels.
A team of Spanish scientists noted "The results of this study show that dietary phylloquinone intake is associated with reduced risk of type-2 diabetes, which extends the potential roles of vitamin K in human health." The researchers noted that vitamin K deficiencies are prevalent in western diets due to a lack of leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, and broccoli that provide vitamin K1, the most common isomer of the vitamin. Vitamin K2 (from fermented foods and natto) is much less common in the typical diet and can be synthesized in the gut by microflora.
Researchers reviewed data on 1,069 men and women with an average age of 67 that were part of the Prevention with the Mediterranean Diet trial in Spain. None of the participants had diabetes at the start of the study. 131 had developed the disease after five and a half years. The team determined that those with the highest levels of vitamin K1 at the study's outset experienced the lowest risk for developing Type II diabetes.
The team concluded "An increase in the amount of phylloquinone intake during the follow-up was associated with a 51 percent lower risk of diabetes in elderly subjects at high cardiovascular risk after a median follow-up of 5.5 years." Though still to be determined, the researchers postulated that the risk reduction was due in large part to the metabolism of osteocalcin, a protein involved in bone mineralization and moving calcium from the blood into the bone. Nutrition experts recommend supplementing with a full spectrum form of vitamin K (1000 to 2200 mcg per day) to prevent diabetes and heart disease as we age.