Most people have never heard of Vitamin K2.
This vitamin is rare in Western diets and has not received much attention from the mainstream.
However, this powerful nutrient plays a role necessary on many aspects of health.
In fact, vitamin K2 may be just the "missing link" between diet and some deadly diseases.
What is Vitamin K?
Vitamin K was discovered in 1929 as an essential nutrient in blood clotting.
The original discovery was published in a German scientific journal, where it was called Koagulationsvitamin . The "K" is therefore also present .
It was also discovered by the legendary dentist who traveled the world in the early 20th century to study the relationship between diet and disease in different populations.
He found that the non-industrial diet had a high level of unidentified nutrients, which seemed to provide protection against tooth decay and chronic disease.
He mentioned this mysterious nutrient with the name Activator X, but now it is said to be Vitamin K2.
There are two main types of Vitamin K: K1 (phylloquinone) is found in plants as green vegetables, while Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is found in animal foods and fermented foods .
Vitamin K2 can be divided into different subtypes, but the most important ones are MK-4 and MK-7.
Bottom Line: Vitamin K was originally discovered as a nutrient related to blood clotting. There are two types of vitamins K, K1 (plant) and K2 (animal food).
How does Vitamin K1 and K2 work?
Calcium is an extremely important mineral.
It is not only a construction material for bones and teeth but also plays an important role in all biological processes .
The main function of vitamin K is to modify proteins to give them the ability to bind calcium. In this way, it "activates" the protein binding properties of the protein.
However, the roles of vitamins K1 and K2 are quite different and many feel that they should be categorized into completely separate nutrients.
Vitamin K1 is mainly used in the liver to activate blood-binding calcium-binding proteins, while K2 is used to activate regulatory proteins where calcium ends in the body .
Bottom Line: The main function of vitamin K is to activate the calcium binding properties of proteins. K1 is primarily involved in blood clotting, while K2 helps regulate where calcium ceases to function in the body.
Vitamin K2 may help prevent heart disease
Calcium accumulates in the arteries around the heart as one very big for heart disease .
For this reason, anything that can reduce calcium buildup can help prevent heart disease.
This is where vitamin K2 is thought to be useful, by helping prevent calcium from being introduced into arteries .
In the Rotterdam study, those with the highest levels of vitamin K2 were less likely to suffer from arterial calcification to 52%, and were at risk of dying from heart disease. 57% lower in the period of 7-10 years .
Another study of 16,057 women showed that those with the highest vitamin K2 had a much lower risk of heart disease. For every 10 micrograms K2 they use every day, the risk of heart disease drops to 9% .
Remember, vitamin K1 has no effect in either study.
However, keep in mind that these studies are called observational studies, which cannot prove any cause and effect at all.
Unfortunately few has been implemented using the K1 form and seems to be ineffective .
We are desperately needing some long-term controlled trials on K2 and heart disease. There is a fairly reliable biological mechanism for its efficacy and strong correlations found in observational studies.
The importance of this is not exaggerated at all. Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in the world. It killed 14 million people in 2012 .
Bottom Line: High vitamin K2 supplementation is closely related to reducing the risk of heart disease. Vitamin K1 does not seem to be as helpful.
It can help improve bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis ("spongy" bone) is a common problem in Western countries. It is especially common in older women and increases the risk of fractures.
As mentioned above, vitamin K2 plays a central role in calcium metabolism, the main mineral found in bone.
Vitamin K2 activates calcium binding activity of two so-called proteins and help to build and maintain bones .
Interestingly, there is also a lot of evidence from trials that control that K2 has great benefits for bone health.
A three-year trial in 244 menopausal women showed that people taking vitamin K2 supplements had a decrease in bone mineral density due to much slower aging .
Long-term studies on Japanese women have shown similar benefits, although they have used very high doses. Of the 13 trials, only one did not show significant improvement.
Seven of these trials also reported fractures and found that vitamin K2 reduced vertebral fractures by 60%, 77% hip fractures and all non-spinal fractures 81% .
Similar to these findings, Japan officially recommends that people supplement vitamin K to prevent and treat osteoporosis .
However, some researchers are not convinced. Two large evaluation studies concluded that there was not enough evidence to recommend vitamin K supplementation for this purpose .
Bottom Line: Vitamin K2 plays an essential role in metabolic processes in bones and studies show it can help prevent osteoporosis and fractures.
Improve oral health
Researchers have speculated that vitamin K2 may affect oral health. However, no research has been conducted directly on humans.
Based on animal studies and the role of vitamin K2 in bone metabolism, it is assumed that it also affects oral health as well.
One of the main oral health control proteins is osteocalcin, which is also the type the protein Very important for bone metabolism and activated by vitamin K2 .
Osteocalcin causes a mechanism to stimulate the development of new enamel, which is the tissue that is calcified below the enamel layer .
Vitamins A and D are also thought to play an important role here, they work with vitamin K2 .
Bottom Line: It is believed that vitamin K2 plays an important role in oral health, but there is no research on humans as a basis for this.
Helps fight cancer
Cancer is a common cause of death in Western countries.
Although modern medicine has found many treatments, new cases of cancer still appear. Therefore, finding effective prevention strategies is extremely important.
Interestingly, some studies have been done on vitamin K2 and some types of cancer.
Two clinical trials showed that vitamin K2 reduced the recurrence of liver cancer and increased survival time .
An observational study of 11,000 men also found that high levels of vitamin K2 were associated with a 63% reduction in the risk of prostate cancer. Vitamin K1 does not work .
Hopefully we will have some better research on this issue in the near future.
Bottom Line: Vitamin K2 has been discovered to increase survival in patients with liver cancer. Men who consumed a lot of K2 had a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
How to get enough vitamin K2?
People can convert a portion of vitamin K1 to K2 in the body. This is useful because the amount of vitamin K1 in a typical diet is ten times higher than vitamin K2.
However, current evidence indicates that the transition is ineffective because we benefit more from eating vitamin K2 directly.
Vitamin K2 is also produced by intestinal bacteria in the large intestine, and there is some evidence that broad-spectrum antibiotics can contribute to K2 deficiency .
Unfortunately, the average intake of this important nutrient is very low in the modern diet.
Vitamin K2 is mainly found in some animal foods and fermented foods, which most people don't eat much.
Good sources of vitamin K2 from animals include these milk product fat from Cow eats grass , liver and other organs as well as egg yolk .
Vitamin K is soluble in fat, meaning low fat content and animal products do not contain much vitamin K.
Animal foods contain the MK-4 subtype, while fermented foods such as German sauerkraut, natto and miso contain longer subgroups from MK-5 to MK-14 .
If you can't find those foods, functional foods are a valid alternative.
The benefit of supplementing K2 can be further enhanced when combined with vitamin D supplementation, because these two vitamins work synergistically .
I myself eat a lot of natural cow's milk products and egg , but I added K2 every morning.
Although this needs further research, the current research situation on vitamin K2 and health is extremely promising.
It may mean saving lives for many people.