Most people have never heard of vitamin K2.
This vitamin is rare in the Western diet and has not received much general attention.
However, this powerful nutrient plays an important role in many aspects of your health.
In fact, vitamin K2 can be the missing link between diet and several chronic diseases.
What is vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a vitamin that is found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. The name of vitamin K comes from the German word “Koagulationsvitamin”.
Various forms of vitamin K are used as medicines throughout the world.
Vitamin K1 is usually the preferred form of vitamin K because it is less toxic, works faster, is stronger and works better under certain conditions.
Vitamin K is most commonly used for problems with blood clotting. For example, vitamin K is used to reverse the effects of “thinning blood” medications if too much is given.
It is also used to prevent clotting problems in newborns who do not have enough vitamin K. Vitamin K is also used to treat and prevent vitamin K deficiency, a disorder in which the body does not have enough vitamin K.
A better understanding of the role of vitamin K in the body in addition to blood clotting led some researchers to suggest that the recommended amounts for the intake of vitamin K in the diet are increased.
They explained that there was insufficient scientific evidence to increase the recommended amount of vitamin K
There are two main forms of vitamin K:
- Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone): found in plant foods such as green leafy vegetables.
- Vitamin K2 (menaquinone): found in animal feeds and fermented foods.
Vitamin K2 can be divided into several different subtypes, the most important being MK-4 and MK-7.
How do vitamins K1 and K2 work?
Now you know much more about vitamin K, including the different forms, problems with absorption, how much you need and what foods contain it.
But what can vitamin K really do for your health? Let’s look at the benefits now.
1. Improve the health of your bones.
You probably know that calcium is one of the most important nutrients for the health of your bones. However, bones cannot use calcium without a binder called “osteocalcin”.
Osteocalcin, in turn, needs vitamin K2 to be activated. This means that vitamin K2 is also a requirement for healthy bones. Also interesting is a study that was conducted in women after the menopause.
It turned out that vitamin K2 helps prevent bone fractures. Another study found that the reduction breaks due to the use of vitamin K2 can reach 80%.
It should also be noted that calcium that does not bind to bones can eventually build up in your blood vessels. This can lead to cardiovascular diseases.
So vitamin K2 helps protect bones and cardiovascular health by its action on osteocalcin.
2. Reduce your risk of heart disease.
As mentioned earlier, vitamin K2 can prevent the build-up of calcium in your blood vessels. In return, this may lead to a reduction in the risk of heart disease to 9%.
Furthermore, it has been found that taking drugs that block the effects of vitamin K can lead to faster calcium build-up.
Taking large amounts of vitamin K2 can reduce your chances of dying from heart disease by as much as 57%.
Another study found that supplementation with vitamin K1 can also help to prevent cardiovascular disease, this time by slowing the rate of arterial calcification in the heart itself.
Taking supplements can also help to reverse this condition.
3. Strengthen your teeth.
Like your bones, your teeth need calcium to be strong. This means that they too need the effect of osteocalcin.
So if you do not get enough vitamin K in your diet, this prevents osteocalcin from effectively binding calcium in the teeth.
That means that your teeth can be weak. Weak teeth are more prone to forming holes, breaking, and so on. If your teeth are weakened, you may also feel pain, as well as in your gums.
By getting more vitamin K in your diet, you can provide your body with what it needs to keep your teeth strong.
4. Reduce the amount of inflammation in your body.
This study showed that vitamin K is involved in inflammatory biomarkers.
It seems likely up to now on the basis of the research that the action involves a decrease in the expression of certain genes.
When you do not get enough vitamin K, the cytokine-bound genes increase in their expression, which in turn increases the cytokine levels in your body. This in turn leads to inflammation and bone loss.
One thing that is important to know about this process is that supplementation with vitamin K2 can only prevent the increase in cytokine levels, not reduce once they have been increased.
For that reason you must take vitamin K as a preventative measure. It will not necessarily work as well as a treatment for increased inflammation.
However, there are other mechanisms by which vitamin K also reduces inflammation, such as reducing calcification.
It is therefore best to try your vitamin K intake before the inflammation starts – but taking it once you have problems with inflammation can still be useful.
5. Combating autoimmune diseases.
Research has shown that vitamin K can be useful in the prevention of autoimmune diseases.
In one animal study, rats were affected by experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal disease corresponding to multiple sclerosis (MS).
The study results were promising and the researchers indicated that vitamin K2 is a useful and well-tolerated treatment for MS patients.
Meanwhile, other research has shown that vitamin K2 can also be useful for patients with arthritis (25).
6. Fight a number of different forms of cancer.
Many studies have shown that vitamin K is an important nutrient when it comes to combating cancer.
The daily intake of vitamin K2 supplements can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by as much as 63%.It has also been observed (27, 28) that taking vitamin K2 supplements can help to destroy lung cancer cells.
The effects of vitamin K2 on liver cancer have also been studied. It has been established that liver cancer patients taking vitamin K2 supplements can increase their survival rate.
Vitamin K2 helps prevent cancer cells from coming back. Especially the long-term benefits for liver cancer patients seem promising.
One study found that taking vitamin K2 supplements every day for a period of three years resulted in a significantly lower risk of liver cancer.
Another study showed that taking vitamin K can completely reduce cancer for different types of cancer.
This study sheds some light on the mechanism by which vitamin K appears to show its anti-cancer effects.
It appears that vitamin K is essential for the role of a gene called Gas6. Gas6 can remove cancer cells. If vitamin K is absent, this gene cannot do its job.
How to get the Vitamin K2 you need
Several commonly available foods are rich sources of vitamin K1, but vitamin K2 is less common.
Your body can become vitamin K1 to K2. This is convenient because the amount of vitamin K1 in a typical diet is ten times as high as that of vitamin K2.
The current evidence, however, indicates that the conversion process is inefficient. The result is that you can benefit much more from eating vitamin K2 directly.
Vitamin K2 is also produced by intestinal bacteria in your colon. There are indications that broad-spectrum antibiotics contribute to K2 deficiency.
Yet the average intake of this important nutrient is incredibly low in the modern diet.
Vitamin K2 is found in certain animal and fermented foods, where most people do not eat much.
The rich animal sources include fat-rich dairy products from cows fed with grass, egg yolk and liver and other organ meats.
Vitamin K is fat-soluble, which means that low-fat skimmed animal products do not contain much of it.
Animal foods contain the MK-4 subtype, while fermented foods such as sauerkraut, natto and miso pack more of the longer subtypes, MK-5 to MK-14.
If these foods are far away from you, taking supplements is a valid alternative. An excellent selection of K2 supplements can be found on Amazon.
The benefits of supplementation with K2 can be increased, even in combination with vitamin D supplement, because these two vitamins have synergistic effects.
Although this needs to be studied in more detail, the current research into vitamin K2 and health is promising.
It can even have life-saving consequences for many people.
Vitamin K is a group of nutrients that is divided into vitamins K1 and K2.
Vitamin K1 is involved in blood clotting and vitamin K2 benefits the bones and the health of the heart. However, more studies are needed into the role of vitamin K subtypes.
Some scientists are convinced that vitamin K2 supplements should be used regularly by people at risk for heart disease. Others point out that more studies are needed before solid recommendations can be made.
However, it is clear that vitamin K plays an essential role in body function.
To maintain good health, make sure that you are receiving sufficient amounts of vitamins K1 and K2 through your diet.