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Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes blood clotting and bone health. This article discusses the benefits of Vitamin K2, how to get it into your diet and what you may be deficient in.
Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin found in foods like leafy green vegetables, eggs, and cheese. It has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. The recommended dosage for adults is 100mcg daily.
When it comes to eating a heart-healthy diet, full-fat cheeses, eggs, and cow liver may not be the first things that spring to mind. However, you may be shocked to learn that vitamin K2, which is abundant in these foods, has become one of the most investigated nutrients in the area of cardiovascular health in recent years.
What are some of the advantages of vitamin K2? While vitamin K1 is crucial in avoiding blood clots and bleeding problems, vitamin K2 has a distinct function.
K2 advantages include healthy digestion, development in newborns and children, fertility, cognitive function, and bone and dental health, according to a 2019 research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Unfortunately, many people’s diets are deficient in this category.
Vitamin K (both types: K1 and K2) is unusual in that it is not often used as a supplement. However, it seems to be much more helpful when K2 is taken organically through vitamin K sources.
Vitamin K2 is obtained from animal-derived foods such as grass-fed meats, raw/fermented cheeses, and eggs, instead of vitamin K1, which is predominantly found in plant foods such as leafy greens. In addition, beneficial microorganisms in your gut microbiome also generate it.
What Is Vitamin K2?
While vitamin K1 and K2 are the most well-known, the term “vitamin K” really refers to several distinct substances. For example, vitamin K1 is also called phylloquinone, while vitamin K2 is called menaquinone.
Vitamin K2’s responsibilities and health advantages were very recently identified compared to many other vitamins. So what are the benefits of vitamin K2? It has a variety of tasks in the body, the most significant of which is to use calcium and avoid artery calcification, which may lead to heart disease. In addition, according to new research, a shortage of this vitamin is linked to disorders, including osteoporosis.
If there’s one thing K2 is good at, it’s keeping calcium from accumulating in the wrong places, particularly in soft tissues. Low vitamin K2 levels may lead to plaque buildup in arteries, tartar formation on teeth, and tissue hardening, leading to arthritic symptoms, bursitis, decreased flexibility, stiffness, and discomfort.
According to studies published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, K2 has anti-inflammatory characteristics and may protect against cancer.
What is the difference between MK7 and vitamin K2? MK is an abbreviation for a category of menaquinones compounds known as K2. MK7 is a kind of menaquinone responsible for many of vitamin K2’s advantages. Many vitamin K2 research has focused on MK4, although other forms such as MK7 and MK8 also have distinct properties.
Vitamin K2 vs. Vitamin K1
- According to some data, humans obtain 10 times more vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) from their foods than vitamin K2 (menaquinone). Vitamin K1 insufficiency is very uncommon, possibly “almost nonexistent,” while K2 deficiency is more frequent.
- A rising amount of evidence suggests that vitamins K1 and K2 are not merely distinct versions of the same vitamin but work as different vitamins in their own right.
- Vitamin K1 is more plentiful in foods than vitamin K2, although less bioactive.
- In humans, vitamin K2 from animal diets is more active. This isn’t to say that plant foods high in K1 are bad for you; it simply means that they aren’t the most acceptable sources of bioavailable vitamin K2.
- When we ingest foods containing vitamin K1, it usually finds its way to the liver, transforming it and circulation. K2, on the other hand, is more readily transported to bones and other tissues.
- Vitamin K1 is essential for blood clotting. However, it isn’t as effective at maintaining bones and teeth as vitamin K2.
What is the purpose of vitamin K2? Here are some of the essential advantages and applications of this vitamin:
1. Assists in calcium regulation
Vitamin K2 regulates where calcium accumulates in the body, one of its most significant functions. Vitamin K2 helps regulate calcium usage in the skeleton, heart, teeth, and neurological system, notably in the bones, arteries, and teeth.
The “calcium paradox” refers to medical practitioners’ discovery that although calcium supplementation may lower the risk of osteoporosis, it also raises the risk of heart disease. What causes this to happen? Deficiency of vitamin K2!
K2 acts in tandem with vitamin D3 to suppress osteoclasts, the cells that cause bone resorption.
The link between vitamin D and calcium is significant because vitamin D aids in the movement of calcium from the intestines into the circulation as it digests. Unfortunately, at that time, vitamin D has served its purpose. Following that, vitamin K2 must activate osteocalcin, one of its dependent proteins. According to research, it then removes calcium from the circulation and stores it in bones and teeth.
It’s critical to obtain adequate calcium, vitamin D3, and vitamin K for the most significant overall health advantages. You may need to take a vitamin D3 supplement, as well as other accessories, depending on your age, health, and diet.
Vitamin K2, in addition to osteocalcin, is required for the activity of various proteins, which is why it aids in growth and development. It’s involved in preserving artery walls, the osteoarticular system, teeth, and cell development control, for example.
2. Cardiovascular System Protection
Vitamin K2 is one of the finest vitamins for men since it protects against heart issues, including atherosclerosis (artery hardening), one of the leading causes of mortality in many industrialized nations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men account for more than half of all heart disease fatalities.
According to a 2015 research published in the Integrative Medicine Clinician’s Journal,
Vitamin K2 has been linked to a reduction in arterial calcification and stiffness. In addition, vitamin K2 has been proven to reduce the risk of vascular injury by activating matrix GLA protein (MGP), which prevents calcium deposits on the walls of blood vessels.
The Rotterdam Research, a significant study conducted in the Netherlands that followed over 4,800 adult males, discovered that the essential vitamin K2 consumption was linked to a lower risk of aortic calcification. According to the findings, men who ingested the most K2 had a 52 percent reduced chance of severe aortic calcification and a 41 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease.
Men who consumed the most K2 had a 51 percent reduced chance of dying from heart disease and a 26 percent lower risk of dying from any cause in the research (total mortality).
This vitamin was linked to a 12% increase in maximum cardiac output in a 2017 research, and treatment seemed to enhance cardiovascular function in sick individuals. This appears to be accomplished via restoring mitochondrial activity and having a “key role in mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate synthesis” (ATP).
3. Beneficial to Bone and Dental Health
Vitamin K has long been recognized as crucial for blood clotting, but only lately have human research shown how it may also help with bone health and protect against vascular illnesses.
“K2 may be a valuable adjuvant for the treatment of osteoporosis, together with vitamin D and calcium,” according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.
Another meta-analysis from 2015 backs up the idea that “vitamin K2 has a role in the preservation and improvement of vertebral bone mineral density, as well as the prevention of fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.”
K2 helps the skeletal system by absorbing calcium and assisting in its incorporation into bones and teeth, making them firm and robust. Vitamin K2 has been studied in animal and human research to see whether it might help prevent or cure fractures, osteoporosis, and bone loss.
K2 has been shown in clinical tests to decrease bone loss in adults, aid build bone mass, and lower the incidence of hip fractures and vertebral fractures in older women.
K2 enhances bone mineralization by increasing osteocalcin accumulation in the extracellular matrix of osteoblasts within bones. In addition, there is further evidence to support the effects of vitamin k2 on the development of other mesenchymal stem cells into osteoblasts, according to a 2018 review.
It also aids in the preservation of the teeth and jaws’ structure. Many traditional civilizations incorporated K2 items in their diets in the hopes of preventing cavities, tooth decay, and plaque production. Weston A. Price, a dentist, discovered in the 1930s that primitive tribes with K2-rich diets maintained solid and healthy teeth despite never being introduced to western dental care.
It turns out that enough K2 intake during pregnancy is also beneficial to fetal development and bone health. Limited osteocalcin protein activation (which requires vitamin K2) during fetal development results in the undergrowth of the bottom part of the face bone and jaw shape. According to some experts, this is why so many youngsters in today’s culture need braces.
4. Can Help Prevent Cancer
According to several studies, those who consume a lot of K2 in their diet had a decreased chance of acquiring certain malignancies. Vitamin K2, for example, may aid in preventing leukemia, prostate, lung, and liver cancers.
5. Protects against the effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Supplementing with vitamin K2 has been proven to slow down bone mineral density loss and lower the quantity of RANKL, an inflammatory molecule, in the blood of people with rheumatoid arthritis.
This shows that K2 might be an effective rheumatoid arthritis dietary supplement.
6. Helps to restore hormonal balance
K2 may be utilized to make osteocalcin hormone in our bones, which has beneficial metabolic and hormonal benefits.
Fat-soluble vitamins are necessary for generating reproductive/sex hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. According to recent research, women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and postmenopausal women may benefit from increasing K2 in their diets because of its hormonal-balancing properties.
K2 may also aid in blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity, lowering the risk of metabolic diseases including diabetes and obesity. In addition, K2 may assist control glucose metabolism by influencing osteocalcin and proinflammatory pathways.
7. Assists in Kidney Health
K2 may aid the kidneys by preventing calcium buildup in the incorrect areas, which is the fundamental cause of kidney stones. However, it may also have the same effect on other organs, such as the gallbladder.
In addition, a shortage of K2 and vitamin D has been linked to an increased risk of renal disease in studies.
What foods contain a lot of vitamin K2? Vitamin K1 is usually found in plants, but vitamin K2 is primarily found in animal products or fermented meals.
Because K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin, it may be found in animal meals containing fat, particularly saturated fat and cholesterol.
Animals assist in converting vitamin K1 to vitamin K2. However, humans lack the enzyme required to do so effectively. This is why receiving K2 from animal-derived foods is beneficial — and why adhering to grass-fed animal products gives the greatest K2.
The following are the top 20 vitamin K2 foods (in percentages based on a daily value of 120 micrograms):
- 1 ounce of natto has 313 micrograms (261 percent DV)
- 1 slice of beef liver has 72 micrograms (60 percent DV)
- Chicken, particularly the black meat: 51 mcg per 3 oz (43 percent DV)
- 1 spoonful of goose liver pate equals 48 micrograms (40 percent DV)
- Gouda, Pecorino Romano, Gruyere, and other hard cheeses: 25 micrograms per ounce (20 percent DV)
- 22 micrograms per slice of Jarlsberg cheese (19 percent DV)
- Soft cheeses include: 17 micrograms per ounce (14 percent DV)
- 10 micrograms per ounce of blue cheese (9 percent DV)
- 3 oz. ground beef: 8 micrograms (7 percent DV)
- 7 micrograms per cup of goose flesh (6 percent DV)
- 5.8 micrograms of egg yolk, particularly from grass-fed hens (5 percent DV)
- Organ meat/beef kidneys: 5 micrograms per 3 ounces (4 percent DV)
- 3 oz. duck breast: 4.7 micrograms (4 percent DV)
- 3.7 micrograms per ounce of sharp cheddar cheese (3 percent DV)
- 1 ounce of the raw or pan-fried chicken liver: 3.6 micrograms (3 percent DV)
- Milk (whole): 3.2 micrograms per cup (3 percent DV)
- 3 ounces Canadian bacon/cured ham: 3 micrograms (2 percent DV)
- 1 tablespoon grass-fed butter: 3 micrograms (2 percent DV)
- 2 tablespoons sour cream: 2.7 micrograms (2 percent DV)
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese: 2.7 micrograms (2 percent DV)
The greater the quantity of K2 stored in the tissues, the more vitamin K1 an animal takes from its food. This is why animal products from “grass-fed” and “pasture-raised” animals are better than factory-farmed animals.
Returning to the fact that vitamin K2 is available in various forms, MK7 is found in the greatest concentration in animal meals, while the other varieties are usually found in fermented foods. The synthetic version of K2 is MK4.
K2 might be difficult to come by for vegans unless they eat a lot of natto. However, this fermented soy snack with a “stinky sock” flavor is an acquired taste and the sole vegan source of K2. Fortunately, it’s also the most abundant (and the food used to make the type of K2 supplement I recommend).
How much vitamin K2 do you need daily?
Adults need 90–120 mcg of K2 per day as a minimum.
- Some experts suggest consuming 150 to 400 micrograms of K2 each day, preferably from meals rather than pills.
- Overall, it’s best to customize your dose based on your present health. For example, people at a greater risk of heart disease or bone loss (such as older women) may benefit from a larger dosage (200 micrograms or more).
- Those aiming to maintain their health may receive a little less, mainly through supplements, such as 100 micrograms.
Is it a good idea to use vitamin K supplements?
If you take a vitamin K supplement, you’re probably getting vitamin K1 rather than K2.
While some newer K2 supplements are on the market, the kind of supplement matters a lot.
- MK4, a synthetic K2 with a short half-life in many vitamin K products, is a synthetic K2. This means you’ll need to take it many times throughout the day to obtain the maximum effect.
- To compensate for the compound’s half-life, MK4 serving sizes are sometimes thousands of micrograms. MK7 produced from natto, on the other hand, has a substantially longer half-life and may be given in more manageable dosages, such as those stated above.
Because vitamin K interacts with other fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A and D, the best way to get these nutrients is to consume foods that include a variety of vitamins, such as eggs and raw, full-fat dairy products.
Calcium should also be a vitamin you try to consume a lot of when increasing your K2 consumption, especially for people at risk of osteoporosis.
Symptoms of Deficiency
What happens if you don’t receive enough vitamin K in your diet?
Vitamin K2 shortage may cause the following symptoms:
- Problems with blood vessels and the heart, such as arterial calcification and high blood pressure
- Bone metabolism problems may increase the risk of bone loss and hip fractures.
- Gallstones and kidney stones
- Tooth decay causes cavities and other dental problems.
- Irritable bowel disease symptoms include bloody stools, indigestion, and diarrhea.
- High risk of blood sugar problems and diabetes due to poor blood sugar balance
- Problems with metabolism
- Pregnant people are more likely to have morning sickness.
- Varicose veins/spider veins
This vitamin deficit is thought to be uncommon among people in developed countries. However, owing to their digestive systems’ inability to synthesize K2, newborn newborns and infants are far more vulnerable to insufficiency.
Adults who have any of the following health problems are more likely to develop vitamin K2 deficiency:
- Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease impact the digestive system.
- Malnutrition may occur as a result of calorie restriction or poverty.
- Alcoholism/excessive alcohol consumption
- Antacids, blood thinners, antibiotics, aspirin, cancer treatment medications, seizure medication, and high cholesterol treatments — cholesterol-lowering statin drugs and some osteoporosis drugs hinder the conversion of K2, which may significantly reduce levels.
- Vomiting and diarrhea over an extended period
Side Effects and Risks
Is it possible to get too much vitamin K2? While it’s challenging to receive significant levels of vitamin K2 from food alone and encounter adverse effects or toxicity, you can get symptoms if you consume high dosages of vitamin K supplements.
Even large dosages of this vitamin, such as 15 milligrams three times a day, have been proven safe for most individuals.
Are there any medication interactions to be concerned about? If you use the blood thinner Coumadin, a possible adverse effect connected with taking too much vitamin K is an increased risk of heart issues.
Too much vitamin K might cause issues in persons who have blood clotting problems.
If you’re going to supplement, look for one that expressly mentions menaquinone. Because vitamin K supplements may interact with various drugs, consult your doctor if you intend to use one and are currently on any daily medications.
- Vitamin K2 (also known as menaquinone) is a fat-soluble vitamin that aids calcium metabolism, bone and tooth health, heart health, and hormone balance, among other things.
- Vitamin K1 (the less bioavailable form) is usually found in green vegetables, while vitamin K2 (the more bioavailable form) is mainly found in animal products or fermented meals.
- Vitamin K2 has several health benefits, including lowering the risk of artery calcification, atherosclerosis, cavities, tooth decay, renal difficulties, and hormone imbalances.
- Vitamin K2 seems much more effective when absorbed naturally through high-vitamin K2 foods rather than as a supplement. The best method to acquire enough is to eat raw, fermented cheeses and other full-fat dairy products. Other healthy sources include eggs, liver, and dark meats.
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