Vitamin K2 has benefits all over the body. The fat-soluble nutrient positively affects your teeth, skin, brain, bones, and heart health.
In this article, you’ll discover how this vitamin can help with cancer, kidney health, diabetes, and much more!
- Vitamin K2 supports fertility, bone, skin, brain, kidney, dental, neurological, and cardiovascular health.
- It reduces the risk of cancer, diabetes, PCOS, Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, and bleeding.
- The recommended daily dose is 120 mcg for men and 90 mcg for women.
What is Vitamin K2?
Vitamin K2, also called menaquinone, is a fat-soluble vitamin from animal sources.
Other good sources are fermented foods like natto and sauerkraut.
The bacteria in the gut also produce some vitamin K2, which comes from vitamin K1.
Vitamin K2 is the more biologically active form.
It is drawing a name for itself as a treatment for different diseases, such as diabetes1, apart from its recognized role in blood clotting.
It helps your body absorb calcium and is vital for bone, brain, and heart health.
What Is the Difference Between Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2?
Vitamin K1 and K2 vary2 in structure, bioavailability, absorption rate, and tissue distribution.
Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, is the primary form of vitamin K. However, the body has a hard time absorbing it.
Vitamin K2, specifically menaquinone-7, is ten times more absorbable3 than vitamin K1.
The two are also stored differently.
Vitamin K1 is stored in the liver, pancreas, and heart, while vitamin K2 is stored in the brain and kidneys.
Food sources of vitamin K1 are primarily plants.
When ingested, vitamin K1 can be converted into vitamin K2 by bacteria in the gut.
Since vitamin K is fat-soluble, you will need a fat source for vitamin K1 to be absorbed by the body.
What is Menaquinone-7?
Menaquinone-7, or MK-7, is a form of vitamin K2 that helps fight cardiovascular disease, inflammation, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and peripheral neuropathy4.
Menaquinone-4, or MK-4, is another form use for vitamin supplementation. According to studies5, MK-7 is the more effective form.
How Much Vitamin K2 per Day?
The adequate intakes6 for vitamin K2 in adults 19 years and above are:
- Male: 120 mcg
- Female: 90 mcg
- Pregnant: 90 mcg
- Lactating: 90 mcg
Reach out for natural sources of vitamin K2 and speak to a healthcare professional before supplementing the nutrient.
What Happens When You Take Vitamin K2?
Vitamin K2 activates the calcium-binding actions of two proteins that are crucial for health benefits:
- Osteocalcin: It transports calcium and minerals to the bones and teeth. Osteocalcin is mainly responsible for the vitamin K2 benefits of dental health and osteoporosis prevention.
- Matrix GLA: The non-bone and teeth-related benefits of vitamin K2 are mainly associated with the matrix GLA protein (MGP) action. It needs vitamin K2 for activation.
This activation process is called carboxylation. The non-carboxylated MGP, known to form due to vitamin K deficiency, is associated with cardiovascular disease. It also affects the kidneys and lungs.
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin K2?
Here are 15 significant vitamin K2 benefits backed by science.
1. Helps Stop Bleeding
Vitamin K is widely known for its role in blood clotting7.
It helps synthesize proteins necessary for clotting, helping to stop bleeding. Prothrombin is one of the crucial proteins that vitamin K creates to support blood clotting.
If bleeding occurs in any part of the body, vitamin K works to stop it.
2. Reduces Cancer Risk
Evidence8 shows that vitamin K2 can help suppress cancer cells.
Help reduce the risk, recurrence, and regression of certain types of cancer.
3. Regulates Blood Sugar
Research12 shows that taking vitamin K2 supplements helps raise insulin sensitivity.
As a result, the nutrient helps regulate blood sugar more efficiently and helps reverse insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
4. Prevents Kidney Deterioration
According to new studies13, patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are low in vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 supplementation is safe and effective in improving the markers of deficiency.
However, talk to a medical professional before starting a supplementation regime.
5. Supports the Nervous System
Vitamin K helps synthesize and regulate sphingolipids14.
Sphingolipids are a vital part of your brain cell membranes. They are also crucial players in regulating the aging process and preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Hence, the researchers suggest that vitamin K is a relevant nutrient for cognition.
6. Boosts Brain Health
You have around 85 billion15 neurons or cells in your brain.
As you grow older and go through life, many things can happen to your neurons, including death.
Vitamin K216 and vitamin K1 stop the accumulation of free radicals and cell death.
This way, it prevents oxidative damage17, which causes brain injuries.
7. Fights Alzheimer’s
Currently, no cure for Alzheimer’s18 has been discovered.
According to a study19, Vitamin K2 can treat Alzheimer’s disease since it protects brain cells against damage and degeneration.
8. Improves Cardiovascular Health
This recent review20 points out the increasing evidence supporting vitamin K2 and its cardio-protective effects.
These include calcification homeostasis, slowing down arterial stiffness, diabetes, and heart failure.
9. Prevents Bone Loss
Vitamin K2 is known to be effective and safe in treating bone loss21.
It helps with the structural integrity of a protein in the bone matrix called osteocalcin.
Another study22 used randomized trials to show that phytonadione and menaquinone-4 supplementation helps reduce bone loss and fracture.
Japanese health authorities have approved and used Vitamin K2 as an effective treatment for osteoporosis23 since 1995.
10. Fights Depression and Anxiety
A study24 on rats who suffered from depression, anxiety, and memory loss was conducted in 2016.
The results show that the treatment of vitamin K2 is effective in preventing the development of depression and anxiety.
11. Helps With PCOS
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) causes women to have too much androgen.
Increased dehydroepiandrosterone levels (DHEAS) and high testosterone levels are also prevalent25.
A randomized controlled trial26 was conducted to determine the effects of vitamin D, vitamin K, and calcium supplementation.
The co-supplementation effectively reduced serum-free testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels.
12. Supports Male Fertility
The effects of vitamin K in other organs like the testis are not well-documented.
However, according to this study27, MK-4-fed rats had considerably high testosterone levels in their testis and plasma.
MK-4 can even prevent the degrading testosterone levels in older adults.
13. Prevents Varicose Veins
Matrix GLA protein28, or MGP, is a protein that depends on vitamin K.
A French study29 shows high MGP levels in the varicose veins can help remodel the venous wall.
14. Supports Skin
Vascular calcification can reduce blood flow and contribute to various cardiovascular issues. Since the skin has a network of blood vessels, MGP helps maintain vascular health in the skin.
The skin contains various connective tissues, including collagen and elastin, contributing to its strength and elasticity. MGP helps maintain calcium balance in these tissues, ensuring their proper structure and function.
People with pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE) have low levels of MGP30 and mineralized elastic fibers, the tissue under the skin. The results are premature wrinkles.
Researchers suggest vitamin K can help with aging skin in people with PXE.
15. Boosts Dental Health
Apart from bones, osteocalcin is also present in teeth31.
This protein is activated by vitamin K2 and could contribute to dental health.
Menaquinone-432, in particular, can improve the maturation of dental pulp stem cells into osteoblasts.
This action can, in turn, improve the regenerative capability of bone.
Dental pulp stem cells33, or DPSCs, are gaining attention in regenerative medicine due to their role in osteogenesis.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Should you take vitamin K2 everyday?
Vitamin K2 is safe to take every day.
Should I take D3 and K2 at the same time?
Take vitamin K2 and D3 together for a synergistic effect. However, consult a healthcare professional before supplementing.
Who should not take vitamin K2?
You can’t take vitamin K234 if you have hereditary hypoprothrombinemia, renal impairment, anticoagulation (heparins), or hypersensitivity to vitamin K2.
What are the symptoms of vitamin K2 deficiency?
The symptoms of vitamin K2 deficiency35 are bleeding, bruising, vomiting of blood, blood in the urine or stool, black or tarry stool, and liver disorders.
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2 Halder, M., Petsophonsakul, P., Akbulut, A. C., Pavlic, A., Bohan, F., Anderson, E., Maresz, K., Kramann, R., & Schurgers, L. (2019). Vitamin K: Double Bonds beyond Coagulation Insights into Differences between Vitamin K1 and K2 in Health and Disease. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 20(4). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20040896
3 Halder, M., Petsophonsakul, P., Akbulut, A. C., Pavlic, A., Bohan, F., Anderson, E., Maresz, K., Kramann, R., & Schurgers, L. (2019). Vitamin K: Double Bonds beyond Coagulation Insights into Differences between Vitamin K1 and K2 in Health and Disease. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 20(4). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20040896
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