Have you heard of vitamin K2? Most people have heard of vitamin K1, the vitamin injection given to newborn babies to help their clotting factors. However, many people simply are not aware of the benefits of vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is essential for a healthy heart and healthy bones and most of us do not get enough of it in our diet.
I'm going to tell you why everyone of us should be supplementing with K2.
At a glance:
- Vitamin K is a group of fat soluble vitamins, essential for clotting, heart health and bone health
- Menaquinone, K2, helps maintain healthy heart and bone function
- MK-7 is the most bioavailable form and the most studied form
- Supplementation is recommended as most people do not consume enough through their diet
- Supplementing in conjunction with Vitamin D is beneficial
- The recommended dose is 180 mcg daily
What you need to know about Vitamin K2
1. Two Types of Vitamin K – what do they do?
K vitamins are a group of a fat-soluble vitamins and there are 2 common forms:
- Vitamin K1, phylloquinone, is found in green leafy veggies and is essential for healthy blood clotting
- Vitamin K2, menaquinone, is found in animal foods and fermented foods and has been proven to have dramatic health benefits. There are 2 types of vitamin K2, MK-4 and MK-7. MK-7 is the most bioavailable and bioactive, and also has been the most studied form.
2. Where is Vitamin K2 found?
Beneficial bacteria in the gut produce Vitamin K2, but it is thought that not enough is absorbed into the blood stream to have an impact. As far as dietary sources, the best source by far is the traditional Japanese food Natto, fermented soybean, which is uniquely high in menoquinone-7 (MK-7). K2 is also found in dairy and meat from grass-fed cows, however you would need to consume over 2kg of meat per day to get your daily intake of K2! As most people do not consume enough K2 in their diet, supplementing with K2, menaquinone-7, is recommended.
3. Vitamin K2 is a team player
Healthy bones require three essential nutrients to thrive:
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin K2
Absorption of calcium into the bone is critical for building and maintaining a healthy skeleton. And vitamin D3 is essential to increase absorption of calcium from the intestine into the bloodstream.(1) But the final piece of the puzzle is vitamin K2, which is critical to ensure that the calcium in the bloodstream reaches the bone and is absorbed into the bone matrix. Without each of one these in adequate amounts, bone mass can be impacted.
4. Vitamin K2 makes healthy bones
Vitamin K2 is essential in the activation of osteocalcin, the protein hormone found in bone and dentin.(2) Osteocalcin binds to calcium allowing it into the bone matrix, improving bone mass and skeletal health. Higher blood levels of activated osteocalcin have been associated with a decreased risk of fracture. (3) K2 has been shown to increase activated osteocalcin and improve bone mineral density in healthy postmenopausal women. (4)
For a long time, it has been common practice to advocate adequate calcium intake as essential for bone health. However, studies have shown that calcium alone, either dietary or supplemental, may not improve bone health(5), and in fact, supplementing with calcium can be harmful. If too much calcium is consumed, excess circulating calcium cannot be metabolised by the body and may be deposited into the arteries as calcium deposits, leading to atherosclerosis.(6) It is now thought supplementing with K2 has a greater effect on bone health than calcium.
5. Vitamin K2 is essential for heart health
Vitamin K2 helps to prevent arterial stiffness, which is a common factor in coronary artery disease and heart failure.(7) Research suggests that vitamin K2 decreases arterial calcification, thereby preventing cardiovascular disease. (8)
6. Vitamin K2 helps maintain healthy teeth
Dentin is the calcified tissue underneath the enamel of your teeth. Dentin is unique because unlike enamel, which is formed in the womb, dentin continues to form throughout life. Tooth decay occurs when acid slowly eats through the enamel and begins to attack the dentin. Vitamin K2 helps to strength teeth, through the activation of osteocalcin the protein found in dentin.
7. Who needs vitamin K2?
Unless Natto is part of your daily diet (which for most Westerners is not), almost everyone can benefit from supplementing with vitamin K2, to improve bone and heart health. The following conditions may indicate a higher need for vitamin K2 supplementation:
- Family history of heart disease or osteoporosis
- Taking cholesterol drugs
- Eating a poor or restricted diet
- Diseases or gut issues that interfere with nutrient absorption
8. How much vitamin K2 do you need?
The daily recommended dose for healthy adults is 180mcg of menoquinone-7, MK7.(9) Higher doses may be recommended for certain conditions, but medical supervision is required.
9. Who should NOT take vitamin K2?
Caution needs to be taken in pregnancy and breastfeeding, and also when taking anticoagulant medication e.g. warfarin. If you fall into one of these categories, please consult your medical practitioner for individual advice.
With so many health benefits, it's easy to see why vitamin K2 is a staple in my daily routine. I hope you consider it as part of your health regime too.
** The advice on this site is not intended to replace that of your medical practitioner. Please seek advice before starting any supplementations.