We have already written about vitamin K and its forms, effects and sources in the previous article here. Vitamin K2, known as menaquinone, has been recently increasingly mentioned in connection with cardiovascular health.
Article at a glanc:
- Vitamin K2 and healthy bones
- Vitamin K2 deficiency - a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases
- How to increase the intake of vitamin K2?
- Cardiovascular disease - an epidemic of modern society?
Vitamin K2 and healthy bones
Vitamin K2 is an important nutrient that regulates calcium storage in our body. Vitamin K2 transports calcium to the bones and teeth and so prevents calcium deposit in the arteries. This vitamin therefore helps to maintain sufficient strength of these hard tissues and reduces the risk of osteoporotic fractures.
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones, making them fragile and more likely to break. According to the European Journal of Rheumatology , this condition affects around 200 million people globally. According to the latest statistics from the International Osteoporosis Foundation, one in three women over 50 and one in five men suffer from an osteoporotic fracture.
Vitamin K2 deficiency - a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases
Another risk factor of vitamin K2 deficiency may be the accumulation of calcium in soft tissues, which can contribute to heart disease. Vascular calcification is also one of the factors by which doctors assess the risk of heart attack.
Based on numerous studies, the scientific community already agrees on the importance of vitamin K2 for building strong bones and maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.
Let us mention, for example, the well-known Rotterdam study from 2004 , which confirmed that long-term increased dietary intake of vitamin K2 (not vitamin K1) has a positive effect on cardiovascular health. This 10 years lasting study examined 4,807 people (men and women) over the age of 55. The results showed that the intake of food rich in vitamin K2 (at least 32 micrograms per day) reduces the risk of calcification of blood vessels and decreases the development of cardiovascular diseases by 50%.
Another study was published in 2016 by the Cureus Journal of Medical Science . The study focused on finding risk factors for cardiovascular disease and was based on regression analysis, examining publicly available data in 168 countries. This study also confirmed that vitamin K2 deficiency plays a fundamental role in the development of cardiovascular diseases. The results showed that vitamin K2 deficiency is as dangerous as smoking for the risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease.
Many studies have shown that sufficient intake of vitamin K2 is an important factor in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. This crucial vitamin is unfortunately deficient in our diet because of the modern way of eating.
How to increase the intake of vitamin K2?
Vitamin K2 can be synthesized by our body from the vegetable form of vitamin K1. This synthesis is unfortunately not sufficient. The production of vitamin K2 by the intestinal bacteria inhabiting our digestive tract is also limited. That is why we need to incorporate this nutrient into our diet.
One of the richest food sources of this vitamin is natto - a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans. Other sources include other fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi or pickles. We can also find vitamin K2 in animal products - for example in high-fat dairy products from grass-fed cows or in egg yolks.
If it’s difficult for us to get enough vitamin K2 from our diet, it will certainly be appropriate to use a quality K2 supplement.
Cardiovascular disease - an epidemic of modern society?
Cardiovascular diseases represent an epidemic of our modern society. Heart diseases have long been the most common cause of death in the Czech Republic and it’s estimated that approximately 30% of all deaths globally are caused by cardiovascular diseases.
Even though vitamin K2 plays such an important role in maintaining cardiovascular health, it is unfortunately still an underestimated nutrient.
Current recommendations from the health authorities are based exclusively on the adequate intake of vitamin K1 to regulate blood clotting. However, It would certainly be beneficial to include suggestions for the intake of vitamin K2 as well. Not only by health authorities, but also by nutritionists who should incorporate vitamin K2 rich foods in their dietary advice.
1 Sözen T, Özışık L, Başaran NÇ. An overview and management of osteoporosis. Eur J Rheumatol. 2017 Mar;4(1):46-56. doi: 10.5152/eurjrheum.2016.048. Epub 2016 Dec 30. PMID: 28293453; PMCID: PMC5335887.
2 Geleijnse JM, Vermeer C, Grobbee DE, Schurgers LJ, Knapen MH, van der Meer IM, Hofman A, Witteman JC. Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study. J Nutr. 2004 Nov;134(11):3100-5. doi: 10.1093/jn/134.11.3100. PMID: 15514282.
3 Cundiff DK, Agutter PS. Cardiovascular Disease Death Before Age 65 in 168 Countries Correlated Statistically with Biometrics, Socioeconomic Status, Tobacco, Gender, Exercise, Macronutrients, and Vitamin K. Cureus. 2016 Aug 24;8(8):e748. doi: 10.7759/cureus.748. PMID: 27688985; PMCID: PMC5036986.