Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin K2
What is Vitamin K2?
f there's one underrated vitamin that deserves more attention, it is vitamin K2! Sometimes called the "missing link", Vitamin K supports healthy blood clotting, strong bones and teeth, cardiovascular health, and more.
You may think vitamin K is a single vitamin, but it's a group of fat-soluble nutrients with similar chemical structures. Vitamin K1 is found predominantly in green leafy vegetables and vitamin K2 occurs mainly in animal products, cheese, and certain fermented foods (1).
Vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone, is the most important and active form in the body.
Active K2 exists in several analogs, known as menaquinones (MKs). They range from MK-4 to MK-13; however, research has shown vitamin K2 MK-7 lasts longer in the body and the best bioavailability when compared to other forms (2). That's why the MK-7 form is commonly found in nutritional supplements – including ours!
How Vitamin K2 works
Vhere are several vitamin K2-dependant enzymes in the body, making it essential for a variety of metabolic functions!
While there is a lot we don't understand about vitamin K2, we know it controls calcium metabolism by activation proteins through a process called carboxylation. Vitamin K-dependent carboxylase enzymes attach carbon dioxide molecules to proteins, activating and allowing them to bind to calcium. This calcium-binding process ensures calcium gets deposited in bones and teeth and inhibits the dangerous calcification of blood vessels, tissues, and organs (3).
Vitamin K is also necessary to activate a protein called prothrombin, responsible for stopping internal and superficial bleeding. By binding to calcium at the site of an injury, prothrombin initiates a "coagulation cascade" to form a clot.
Vitamin K2 Sources
Dietary vitamin K2 is found in:
- Pastured butter
- Pastured egg yolks
- Organ meats
- Grass-fed beef and chicken
It comes as no surprise that chronically low vitamin K2 intake is quite common in the West where fermented foods, pastured meat, and organ meats are not dietary staples.
A portion of vitamin K1 is also synthesized into K2 by trillions of bacteria in your digestive tract – known as the gut microbiome (4). However, this process is inefficient and unreliable, particularly in those with poor gut health and who frequently use antibiotics.
Risk Factors for K2 Deficiency
The risk of K2 deficiency is increased by:
- Vegans and vegetarians diets
- Digestive conditions and poor fat absorption
- Low-fat diets
- Antibiotic use
- Taking cholesterol blocking medication
You may be low in vitamin K2 if you struggle with increased bruising, poor blood clotting, brittle bones, or markers of cardiovascular disease.
Benefits of Vitamin K2
Let's dig into the proven health benefits of vitamin K2.
Vitamin K was first discovered for its role in blood coagulation or clotting almost 100 years ago. Without sufficient vitamin K, you'd bleed profusely from a simple cut!
However, supplementing may interfere with certain blood thinners, so speak to your doctor if you're taking this medication.
Although its role is frequently neglected, Vitamin K2 is essential for healthy bone density!
K2 plays a vital role in activating the osteocalcin protein produced by bone cells or osteoblasts (5). Osteocalcin binds to calcium in the blood and deposits it in bone tissue, encouraging healthy bone density and reducing the risk of fracture. Interestingly, MK-7 has been shown to activate or carboxylate osteocalcin more completely than other forms of K2.
A 2013 study on post-menopausal women looked at the impact of 180mcg of vitamin K2 MK-7 on age-related bone loss over three years. Daily MK-7 improved neck and spine bone mineral density, helping to prevent bone loss (6).
Calcium Metabolism and Cardiovascular Health
Vitamin K2 is needed to activate the Matrix GLA Protein (MGP) that binds to calcium in the blood and prevents calcium deposits from forming in blood vessels and arteries (7).
Insufficient K2 and inactive MGP increases blood vessel calcification, atherosclerosis, and high blood pressure. A 2019 meta-analysis found that higher levels of inactive MGP were associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (8).
A population-based study, known as the Rotterdam Study, found that greater K2 intake reduced aortic calcification, lowering heart disease risk and mortality (9).
Making Vitamin K2 part of your daily diet
With VitaRx's personalized daily vitamin kits you are able to create a custom daily packet which allows you to take all the vitamins you want and need on a daily basis. These kits include only what you want to have in them and nothing that you don't. Every month you will receive box with 30 new kits for that month. Making adding healthy supplements, minerals and vitamins to your daily diet easier and more convenient than every before. Oh and its really affordable too!