Vitamin K2 was one of the topics quite a long time underappreciated. But in the last time this powerful nutrient is receiving relatively big attention as it plays an essential role in many aspects of our health.
There was not much information nor studies about all “K group” vitamines so they were considered as one, even vitamin K represents different types of fat soluble vitamins - named K1, K2 and K3. Each of them come to the body from different sources and have different biological roles. While K1 is primarily used for blood coagulation, K2 has a small role in it. Before going into the details, let's summarize the huge importance of vitamin K2 in our organism.
K2 deficiency could be a factor in several chronic diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases. Optimal levels in the body can be crucial for prevention of osteoporosis and probably the treatment of this bone disease is no longer possible without K2 supplementation as it has big importance in calcium metabolism in the body. Actually it moves calcium to the places where we need it - into teeth and bones and on the other hand it removes calcium from arteries. Arterial calcification and arterial stiffening is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Also it is of interest to investigate potential link between cognitive impairment and vitamin K and relationship between vitamin K and Alzheimer's prevention. Some researchers expect it as an emerging nutrient in brain function.
Each of the primary forms of vitamin K have different contributions to human health - so which one should I choose?
Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) - is found primarily in plant foods, most prevalent in green leafy vegetables, so it is quite easy to get it from dietary foods. In our body plays a key role in helping the blood clot, preventing excessive bleeding.
Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) - protecting our healthy bones and veins, is mainly found in certain animal sources (for example high-fat dairy products from grass-fed cows or egg yolks) and also in fermented foods, which most people don't eat much of.
When looking for a supplement, you should choose MK-7 form, as it shows the highest activity in humans due better bioavailability and longer half-life compared to other homologs. In general Menaquinones are further classified according to the length of their side chain. These are designated MK‑4 - MK-14, representing the number of isoprenoid residues in that chain. Only MK-4 and MK-7 are considered good for bone health. The difference is MK4 has a shorter half life in the body than MK7 so to be most effective MK4 ideally needs to be taken in divided doses 2-3 times a day, whereas MK7 can be taken once a day.
Vitamin K3 (menadione) is a synthetic, artificially produced form of vitamin K and can not be used in dietary supplements for humans as it can be harmful. In particular, it can impair the function of glutathione (one of the strongest antioxidants), resulting in oxidative damage to cell membranes.
Vitamin K2 - for healthy bones and arteries
Vitamin K2 allows calcium to be used by our bone-building cells to increase bone density, which means stronger bones that are less likely to fracture or break. In a similar pathway, this vitamin redirects calcium from soft tissues and arteries to your bones, by activating a protein that removes calcium from blood vessels. Higher vitamin K2 intake has been shown to be linked to decreased heart disease risk, as a result.
Vitamin K2 works closely together with vitamin D3 to maintain control over calcium levels in the body. That is why it is suggested to supplement them together as each function is more effective.
Vitamin K2 - new promise in the prevention and treatment of numerous of diseases civilization?
It is also involved in the regulation of cellular functions. This nutrient prevents unnecessary cell death and it is involved in functions leading to their proper division and growth, in order to prevent cancer growth. Also there are research reporting to induce apoptosis in many types of cancer cells and the possibility of using this nutrient for cancer therapy.
Vitamin K2 - its potential impact to a cell metabolism
There’s also another link with vitamin K2 and heart health, because some studies demonstrate that higher intakes of this nutrient can help to restore the ability of mitochondria to manufacture ATP inside cells. Research conducted with a group of trained athletes and cyclists who were given a vitamin K2 supplement for 8 weeks. According to the results of this study,it could play a key role in energy production and could alter cardiovascular responses. It could be such an important support, especially for energy-intensive muscles such as skeletal and cardiac muscle. Also other studies conducted in the last decade in Central Europeans have already shown that posible great impact of high intake of vitamin K2 not only for bone health but also for cardiovascular health.
How do I know if I am deficient in Vitamin k2 and what is the ideal daily intake?
Vitamin K2 deficiency can cause slower bone regeneration and insufficient incorporation of calcium into bones and teeth. These hard tissues are then not strong and durable enough, they break easily and the risk of osteoporotic fracture increases. Also there is a risk of aortic calcification which can lead to heart diseases.
It is very important to look after our diet. The typical Western diet contains minimal amounts of vitamin K2. If we are not big consumers of fermented Natto and we also lack other sources of vitamin K2 in our diet, we should use it as an alternative form of vitamin K.
Currently, there is no known toxicity associated with high doses of vitamin K1 or vitamin K2. In concrete, for K2 there is no official Daily Value, but experts recommend 90 to 120 micrograms (mcg) per day to maintain all crucial processes in the metabolism.