Discover the 7 Benefits of Vitamin K2.
Full-fat cheeses, eggs, and beef liver may not be the types of foods that come to mind when you think of eating a heart-healthy diet, but you’ll probably be surprised to learn that in recent years, one of The most researched nutrients in the field of cardiovascular health has been vitamin K2, which is found in these same foods.
What are the benefits of vitamin K2? While vitamin K1 has the important function of preventing blood clots and bleeding disorders, vitamin K2 works differently.
Vitamin K2 benefits include helping with nutrient assimilation, growth and development in infants and children, fertility, brain function, and dental health. Unfortunately, many people don’t get enough of it from their diet.
One thing that makes vitamin K unique (both types: K1 and K2) is that it is not usually taken in supplement form. Vitamin K2 appears to be much more beneficial when obtained naturally from vitamin K foods.
What foods are rich in K2? Unlike vitamin K1, which is found primarily in plant foods like green leafy vegetables, you get K2 from foods derived from animals.
Some of the healthiest vitamin K2 foods include grass-fed meats, raw/fermented cheeses, and eggs. It is also produced by the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome.
As we hear more about vitamin K1 and K2, many different compounds fall under the category of vitamin K. Vitamin K1 is also known as phylloquinone, while vitamin K2 is known as menaquinone.
Compared to many other vitamins, vitamin K2 was only recently discovered. What does vitamin K2 help with? It has many roles in the body, but the most important is helping with calcium metabolism and preventing calcification of the arteries, which can lead to heart disease.
If there’s one thing we need vitamin K2 for, it’s to prevent calcium from building up in the wrong locations, specifically in the soft tissues.
Low intake of vitamin K2 can contribute to plaque formation in the arteries, tartar formation on the teeth, and hardening of tissues that causes symptoms of arthritis, bursitis, reduced flexibility, stiffness, and pain.
Some evidence also suggests that K2 has anti-inflammatory properties and may offer some protection against cancer, according to research published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.
Vitamin K2 is a group of menaquinone compounds, abbreviated as “MK”. MK7 is a type of menaquinone that is responsible for many of the benefits attributed to vitamin K2.
MK7 has been the focus of many vitamin K2 studies, but other types like MK4 and MK8 also have unique abilities.
What is vitamin K2 for? Here are some of the main benefits associated with this vitamin:
•Helps regulate calcium usage
•Protects the cardiovascular system
•Supports bone and dental health
•Helps with nutrient assimilation
•Supports growth and development
•Improves hormonal balance
•Helps prevent kidney stones
One of the most important jobs that vitamin K2 has is to control where calcium accumulates in the body.
Vitamin K2 benefits the skeleton, heart, teeth, and nervous system by helping to regulate the use of calcium, especially in the bones, arteries, and teeth.
For example, K2 facilitates the use of calcium in the bones and prevents it from accumulating in dangerous places, such as the arteries.
Vitamin K2 is also essential for the function of various proteins, thus helping with growth and development.
K2 is involved in the maintenance of the structures of the arterial walls, the osteoarticular system, the teeth, and the regulation of cell growth.
Vitamin K2 is one of the best vitamins for men because it offers protection against heart-related problems, including atherosclerosis (stiffening of the arteries), which is the leading cause of death in many developed countries.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than half of deaths from heart disease occur in men.
A 2015 report published in the Physician’s Journal of Integrative Medicine explains that vitamin K2 is associated with the inhibition of arterial calcification and arterial stiffness.
An adequate intake of vitamin K2 has been shown to reduce the risk of vascular damage because it activates matrix GLA protein (MGP), which inhibits calcium deposits in the walls.
The Rotterdam Study, a very large study conducted in the Netherlands that followed more than 4,800 adult men, found that the highest intake of vitamin K2 was associated with the lowest odds of developing aortic calcification.
Men who consumed the most K2 were found to have a 52 percent lower risk of severe aortic calcification and a 41 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease.
Vitamin K2 even appears to have life-saving abilities: The men in the Rotterdam study with the highest K2 intake benefited from a 51 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease and a 26 percent lower risk of dying from any cause (total mortality).
Vitamin K2 benefits the skeletal system by taking in calcium and helping to pack it into bones and teeth so they are solid.
Several studies have investigated whether vitamin K2 may be useful in helping prevent or treat fractures, osteoporosis, and bone loss.
Certain clinical studies have found that K2 slows bone loss in adults and even helps increase bone mass.
K2 can increase the accumulation of osteocalcin in the extracellular matrix of osteoblasts within the bones, which means that it promotes bone mineralization.
While there is strong evidence that vitamin K2 has benefits for bone health, overall, research has been somewhat conflicting on whether it can prevent or reverse osteoporosis.
At this time, health authorities still say that there is not enough evidence available to use vitamin K2 to treat osteoporosis, although studies suggest that consuming more is a smart preventive measure.
K2 also helps maintain the structure of the teeth and jaws. Many traditional cultures included foods with vitamin K2 in their diets because they believed it could help prevent cavities, tooth decay, and plaque formation.
Vitamin K2 can help improve the use of other fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A and vitamin D.
This is why you may hear vitamin K2 called an “activator.”
It also gives proteins the ability to bind calcium and helps with the use of minerals, such as phosphorus.
Fat-soluble vitamins, including A and D, are important for growth and development because they stimulate growth factors and promote the absorption of essential minerals.
Vitamin K2 also plays a role in development because it prevents the calcification of bones and teeth until they reach their full potential.
This means that bones, teeth, and tooth structure can continue to grow and have a chance to fully mature before they harden, as noted in research published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism mentioned above.
Within our bones, vitamin K2 can be used to produce the hormone osteocalcin, which has positive metabolic and hormonal effects.
Fat-soluble vitamins are important for the production of reproductive/sexual hormones, including estrogen and testosterone.
Due to its hormone-balancing effects, women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may benefit from getting more vitamin K2 in their diets.
K2 can also help promote blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity, which can reduce the risk of metabolic problems like diabetes and obesity.
Some research suggests that K2 helps regulate glucose metabolism by modulating osteocalcin and/or pro-inflammatory pathways.
Vitamin K2 may benefit the kidneys by helping prevent calcium buildup from forming in the wrong places, the underlying cause of kidney stones.
You can also do the same thing with other organs, including the gallbladder.
You may also be interested in reading: Plums – 9 Benefits for Cardiovascular Health and More
The best foods with vitamin K2 include:
•Fermented cheeses (soft and hard cheeses that have been aged, such as raw cheddar, blue cheese, goat cheese, etc.)
•Liver (such as goose, chicken, or beef liver)
•Dark meat poultry and chicken breast
•Fermented, full-fat yogurt, kefir, or amasi
•grass fed beef
•Natto (made from fermented soybeans)
Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin found naturally in animal foods that also contain fat, specifically saturated fat and cholesterol. For example, fat, cheese, organ meats, eggs, and meat from animals that eat green grasses are good sources of vitamin K2.
Animals can make vitamin K2 within their bodies by converting vitamin K1, which is found in green plant foods.
The more vitamin K1 an animal consumes from its diet, the higher the level of K2 that will be stored in the tissues. This is why “grass-fed” and “pasture-raised” animal products are superior to products that come from animals raised on factory farms.
Going back to the fact that vitamin K2 comes in various forms (MK7, MK4, MK8, and MK9, for example), MK4 is found in the highest concentration in animal foods, while the other types are found in most foods. fermented foods.
A growing body of research now shows that vitamins K1 and K2 are not only different forms of the same vitamin, they work like different vitamins together due to the way they are used in the body.
Vitamin K1 is more abundant in food but less bioactive than vitamin K2. When we eat foods with K1, the vitamin K1 usually makes its way to the liver and then into the bloodstream once converted.
K2, on the other hand, is more easily distributed to bones and other tissues. Vitamin K1 is very important for supporting blood clotting, but not as good for protecting bones and teeth as K2.
There is some evidence that people tend to get about 10 times more vitamin K1 from their diets than vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is mainly found in green vegetables, while K2 is mainly found in animal products or fermented foods.
When it comes to how the human body uses vitamin K, vitamin K and vitamin A have certain things in common. Just as the active form of vitamin A (retinol) has unique benefits and is considered superior to the inactive form of vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin K is the same.
Vitamin K2 from animal foods is more active in humans than in the plant form, vitamin K1. This does not mean that foods that provide K1 are unhealthy, such as broccoli or spinach, just that they are not the best dietary sources of bioavailable vitamin K.
Animals help transform vitamin K1 into K2, so humans don’t have to do this. This is why we benefit from getting K2 directly from animal-derived foods.
How much vitamin K2 should you take in a day? The minimum daily requirement for K2 in adults is between 90-120 micrograms per day. I recommend aiming for 150 to 400 micrograms a day, ideally from foods with vitamin K2 rather than supplements.
People with a higher risk of heart disease or bone loss may benefit from getting a dose on the higher end of the spectrum (200 micrograms or more), while those looking to maintain their health may get slightly less.
Is it beneficial to take vitamin K supplements? If you take a supplement that contains vitamin K, it is most likely vitamin K1 but not K2. While some newer vitamin K2 supplements are now available, some research suggests that in supplement form, K2 doesn’t offer as many benefits.
If you are taking a vitamin K2 supplement, take it with a little dietary fat (such as eggs or coconut oil). Some people claim that it is best to take K2 in the morning because this allows you to better absorb the vitamin throughout the day.
Remember that vitamin K works with other fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A and D, so the best way to get these nutrients is to eat foods that provide many different vitamins, such as eggs and raw, full-fat dairy products.
What happens if you get too little vitamin K? Symptoms of vitamin K2 deficiency can include:
•Heart-related problems like arterial calcification and high blood pressure
•Tooth decay and other dental problems linked to tooth decay
•Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, such as bloody stools, indigestion, and diarrhea
•Poor blood sugar balance and increased risk of blood sugar problems and diabetes
•Increased chance of morning sickness in pregnant women
•Spider veins / varicose veins
Among adults living in industrialized countries, vitamin K deficiency is considered rare. However, newborns and infants are much more susceptible to vitamin K2 deficiency due to the way their digestive systems cannot produce K2.
Adults are at higher risk of developing vitamin K2 deficiency if they have any of these health conditions:
•Diseases that affect the digestive tract, including types of inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease
•Malnutrition, due to caloric restriction or poverty
Use of medications that block the absorption of vitamin K2, which may include antacids, blood thinners, antibiotics, aspirin, cancer treatment medications, anti-seizure medications, medications for high cholesterol, cholesterol-lowering medications, and certain medications for osteoporosis inhibit the conversion of K2, which can lower levels
•Prolonged vomiting and/or diarrhea
To naturally add more K2 to your diet, try making some of these fat-soluble vitamin-rich vitamin K2 recipes:
•eggs with asparagus
•Chicken Liver Pate
•Cheesy Dark Meat Chicken and Rice Casserole
•Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese
•Goat cheese and artichoke sauce
For decades, vitamin K was known to be important for blood clotting, but only recently have studies been discovered showing that vitamin K2 can also help treat bone and vascular diseases.
In 1928, a researcher named Carl Peter Henrik Dam from the Institute of Biochemistry at the University of Copenhagen first identified vitamin K.
He found that when chickens were fed a diet free of cholesterol and fat, they developed bleeding disorders that did not improve when vitamins A, C, and D were added to the diet.
The chickens only recovered when given green vegetables and liver, leading to the conclusion that these foods contained a special nutrient that helped regulate blood clotting.
This new vitamin was named “vitamin K” after “Coagulation” or coagulation, as it is now spelled. After decades of more work, Dam and another researcher named Doisy were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering the chemical structure of vitamin K.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that researchers discovered much more about the precise biochemical properties of vitamin K, including vitamin K’s interaction with at least 14 different types of protein, plus calcium and other minerals.
Today, K2 is being investigated primarily for its ability to prevent vascular and bone diseases. It is now known that certain medications, including antagonists such as phenprocoumon and warfarin, can interfere with the actions of vitamin K2 in the body.
In the years to come, we should see much more research on how K2 affects blood flow (hemostasis), calcium metabolism, cell growth control, apoptosis, signal transduction, and bone matrix.
Can Too Much Vitamin K2 Be Toxic? While it’s rare to experience side effects from taking high amounts of K2 from food, you may develop symptoms if you take high doses of vitamin K supplements.
However, for most people, even high doses of vitamin K2, such as 15 milligrams three times a day, be generally safe.
If you are someone who takes the drug Coumadin, a potential side effect associated with taking too much vitamin K increases your risk of heart-related problems.
Too much vitamin K can also contribute to complications in people with blood clotting disorders.
While food is the best way to increase your K2 intake, look for a supplement that specifically lists vitamin K2 (menaquinone) if you plan to take supplements.
Because vitamin K supplements can interact with many medications, talk to your doctor if you plan to take a vitamin K supplement and are taking daily medications.
Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps with calcium metabolism, bone and dental health, heart health, and hormone balance.
Vitamin K1 is mainly found in green vegetables, while vitamin K2 is mainly found in animal products or fermented foods.
The benefits of getting more vitamin K2 from your diet include helping to reduce the risk of calcification of the arteries, atherosclerosis, cavities, tooth decay, kidney stones, and hormonal imbalances.
Vitamin K2 appears to be much more beneficial when obtained naturally from vitamin K foods rather than supplements. I recommend consuming raw fermented cheese and other whole milk products to get vitamin K2. Eggs, liver, and dark meats are other good foods with vitamin K2.
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