Imagine a vitamin that has the potential to optimize heart, bone and oral health. One would think this essential vitamin is a part of everyone’s diet, right? Few people have heard of, or fully understand, the health benefits of vitamin K2. Therefore, they may not be eating foods rich in this nutrient.
Vitamin K1 vs. K2
Most people have heard of vitamin K but don’t realize that there are two related but distinct forms of this vitamin, K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 is found in many foods, especially greens but also in meats, dairy and some fruits. Some bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract also make K1 that we then absorb. Vitamin K2, however, is not found in very many foods. The main sources of vitamin K2 are pasture raised animal products, some cheeses such as gouda, edam, brie and jarlsberg, and certain fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and natto (a Japanese food made up of fermented soy). There may also be some contribution from gut bacteria to create K2, but the science is inconclusive. Animal products, however, also contain large amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat, and should only be eaten in moderation.
The Discovery of Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 was originally discovered by a dentist, Dr. Weston Price, who studied the relationship between nutrition and dental health in various cultures in the 1930s. Dr. Price discovered that some groups without the benefit of modern conveniences such as toothbrushes and toothpaste still had a lack of cavities as well as sturdy jaws, healthy cheeks and teeth, without the need for braces. Dr. Weston attributed the findings to some element in their diet, which has now been identified as vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 Deficiency
Whereas vitamin K1 deficiency in adults is rare, suboptimal Vitamin K2 levels have been found to be common, especially in people over the age of 40. In addition to assisting vitamin K1 in activating blood clotting factors, vitamin K2 activates a protein called matrix gla proten (MGP) that directs calcium into the bones and teeth rather than blood vessels and other soft tissues. In 2004, a large study – published in the Journal of Nutrition – placed 4,807 people into three categories based on their estimated vitamin K2 intake from their diet. Compared to the group with the lowest intake, the subjects in the high intake group had a 50 percent risk reduction of heart disease as well as 25 percent reduced rate of death from all causes. (1) Another study, published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, demonstrated a 9 percent reduction in heart disease for every 10 micrograms of vitamin K2 intake among a sample size of 16,057 women. (2) Vitamin K1 had no effect.
Vitamin K2 + Vitamin D + Calcium
Vitamin K2 along with vitamin D helps bone building cells called osteoblasts make a vital bone building protein called osteocalcin. K2 also helps transform the osteocalcin into a form which is able to capture calcium (in a form called hydroxyapatite) and harden the bones. Most studies concerning vitamin K2 and osteoporosis have shown to support bone quality and reduction in fracture risk especially in conjunction with vitamin D.
Very few multivitamins on store shelves contain vitamin K2. Vitamin Packs’ multivitamin contains the MK-7 (menaquinone-7) form of vitamin K2 which is one of the most potent and long-acting forms of this essential vitamin.
Vitamin K2 supplementation should only be taken under a physician’s careful guidance in all patients, especially those the blood thinner Warfarin (Coumadin) as it can block the effects of this blood thinner. Otherwise, it has no known toxicity even in high doses.
To learn more about Vitamin Packs’ Foundational multivitamin with 60 mcg of vitamin K2, visit our Knowledge Center.
- J Nutr.2004 Nov;134(11):3100-Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study.
- Gast GC, De roos NM, Sluijs I, et al. A high menaquinone intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009;19(7):504-10.