3 Major Benefits of Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 has been studied for the last 80+ years and known to be a critical nutrient. Most of the research has focused on vitamin K1 and its effects associated with blood coagulation. New studies are looking at another subtype called vitamin K2 and its effect in synergy with Vitamin D3 on various health factors. Vitamin K2 appears to be a very important nutrient for healthy bones, joints and cardiovascular function.
Vitamin K was originally discovered in 1929 by the Danish scientist Henrik Dam. Dam investigated the role of cholesterol as an essential nutrient by feeding chickens a cholesterol-deficient diet.
After a few weeks the animals developed bleeding disorders that could not be restored by adding purified cholesterol to their diet. They discovered another nutrient that coupled with cholesterol in order to create the coagulation response. The new vitamin was named K as it was discovered in Germany as Koagulations vitamin.
Three Main Forms of Vitamin K:
K1: Phylloquinone, phytonadione
K3: Menadione – Synthetic variant
Vitamin K has Unique Benefits:
Vitamin K1 is necessary for blood coagulation and is produced by green leafy vegetables. The best sources include kale, spinach & collard greens. This form of vitamin K is required for the formation of anticoagulant factors protein C & S.
Vitamin K2 is necessary to convert a critical bone-building protein called osteocalcin. Osteocalcin is a necessary protein that helps maintain calcium homeostasis in bone tissue. It works with osteoblast cells to build healthy bone tissue. Inadequate K2 inhibits osteocalcin production and reduces calcium flow into bone tissue. This leads to reduced bone mass and a weakened bone matrix (1).
D3 and K2 for Healthy Calcium Metabolism:
Vitamin D3 is another critical nutrient that plays an essential role in calcium uptake into skeletal bone tissue. Several studies have shown a synergistic effect of vitamin K2 and D3 (2). These studies show that this combination enhanced osteocalcin accumulation in bone cells greater than any one of these nutrients alone. This increased osteocalcin formation significantly improved bone mineral density (3).
Vitamin K and vitamin D work to increase a substance called Matrix GLA protein (MGP). This protein protects the blood vessels from calcification by congregating around the elastic fibers of the arterial lining and guarding against calcium crystal deposition. Some researchers believe that MGP is the most powerful inhibitor of soft tissue calcification presently known.
Cardiovascular and Joint Health:
Vitamin K and Vitamin D also play a very important role in cardiovascular and joint health. When soft tissues such as the arterioles are damaged due to oxidative stress the body responds with an inflammatory process. This process results in a deposition of calcium into the damaged tissues. This creates plaque buildup in arterioles and degenerative bone spurs in joints.
Animal studies have shown that vitamin K2 not only prevents arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis but actually has the potential to reverse arterial calcification by activating MGP (4). The Rotterdam study in 2004 demonstrated that people with the highest intake of vitamin K2 had a 50% lower risk of death from heart disease than people with the lowest rates of K2 (5).
Vitamin K2 and Your Gut Flora:
Vitamin K2 production within the body is dependent upon a healthy gut flora and the consumption of fermented foods. The vast majority of our society is deficient in vitamin K2 due to lack of fermented food consumption and the epidemic of gut dysbiosis. This is only potentiated by the overuse of anti-biotics and consumption of industrial sterilization products and processed foods.
The best sources of vitamin K2 are found in the fermented soy product natto and raw cheese from a 100% grass-fed cow or goat. Saurkraut and kimchi can also contain vitamin K2, but typically in lower amounts around 10-15 mcg per cup.
Raw cheese has the ideal ratio of vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 along with other nutrients that make it the perfect food for healthy bones, joints and cardiovascular function. Raw, grass-fed cheese can be an excellent part of one’s diet as long as they do not have food sensitivities to dairy and are able to digest and absorb the nutrients.
You can find high quality grass-fed cheese through US Wellness Meats here
Best Way to Supplement Vitamin K2:
I recommend supplementing with probiotics for a healthy gut microflora that can naturally produce vitamin K2. A healthy gut microbiome is foundational to good health and one of the first places to start with all conditions. A healthy gut microbiome and the consumption of grass-fed dairy, fermented veggies and pasture-raised egg yolk will provide a good amount of bioavailable K2.
If you are not sun bathing on a regular basis and are in need of a vitamin D3 supplement than I recommend using vitamin K2 with D3 supplementation. This is very important as these two work in synergy. When they are out of balance it could lead to health problems.
I will often have my clients use a concentrated form of Vitamin K2 in combination with D3. This combination addresses both major deficiencies and these are nutrients that are body needs each day so this is a great lifestyle based supplement. I like to see D3 levels between 70-90 ng/ml. I use the following formula:
To Boost D3/K2 Levels: 2,000 IU and 36-400 mcg for every 25 lbs of body weight
This typically will add 15-20 IU to your blood D3 levels each month. If your levels are 20 – do this for 3 months to get you to 80 (be sure to test to make sure)
For D3 Maintenance: 1,000 IU and 18 mcg of K2 for every 25 lbs of body weight