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You may have gone most of your life hearing about vitamin K, only realizing in the last few years that there are actually two main types of the vitamin: K1 and K2.
Vitamin K is generally associated with coagulation, but over the last decade or so key differences have been revealed about the roles the subtypes play in our health.
In fact, vitamin K is considered an emerging group of vitamins required for human health.
At least that’s the conclusion of one group of researchers who say these vitamins, one in particular, may be useful for several chronic conditions featuring a common denominator afflicting North America’s aging population.
Mainly, K1 is important for helping blood clot to prevent hemorrhaging — but K2 has been found to have very important roles in bone, vascular, joint and cognitive health.
If you aren’t already supplementing K2, as researchers suggest, especially for bone and heart health, let me share more on the importance of this valuable nutrient and how K2 can impact what scientists now say is a key contributor to aging…
Many experts believe calcification should be viewed as a contributor to the pathological aging process. That’s because calcification decreases the function of various tissues or organs, leading to the functional decline of organs, the systems affected and ultimately health in general.
- The pineal gland copiously secretes melatonin in childhood to direct our circadian rhythm. But it begins to decline in function during puberty, already due to significant calcification.
- Pineal calcification is seen in nearly all adults leading to reduced melatonin secretion which has also been suggested to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Arterial blood vessels are lifelong active tissues, and arterial calcification has been observed in conditions with high atherogenic levels, such as diabetes, oxidative stress, and chronic kidney disease (CKD). It’s commonly seen in the aging population, with 96 percent of observed aortic and coronary artery calcification seen in people over the age of 70.
Emerging evidence from animal and clinical studies has associated low K2 levels with calcification and an elevated risk of heart problems.
Bone health and calcium wrangling
Evidence supports K2 in the maintenance of bone health, including:
- increasing bone strength and density
- increasing bone mineral content
- inhibiting bone resorption
- decreasing fracture risk
- reducing urinary calcium loss
- lowering serum alkaline phosphatase levels
This would suggest that vitamin K2 reduces bone calcium mobilization (calcium loss from bones), increases bone calcium deposition, and strengthens bone construction.
At the same time, vitamin K2 limits the occurrence of calcification in other organs due to reduced bone calcium loss.
Per a review of vitamin K in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, the United States and Canada do not have recommendations for the use of vitamin K2 for osteoporosis. However, K2 is recommended as the standard of care in Japan where many studies on its effects on bone health as well as its efficiency in managing calcium in the body have taken place.
The Japanese diet is rich in the particularly powerful form of K2 known as MK-7, where it is found in fermented soy products and traditional dishes, like natto.
Ninety‐nine percent of bodily calcium is stored in bone, largely regulated by vitamin K2, with the remaining 1 percent circulating in the blood, muscle and other tissues.
But if vitamin K2 levels are low, it can disrupt the binding between calcium and osteocalcin (OC), a protein that helps with bone mineralization. This not only leads to the loss of calcium from bones, but it allows more rogue calcium to circulate to places where it can cause calcification.
Research has shown vitamin K2 can effectively stabilize mobile calcium, reduce artery calcium levels, inhibit calcium deposition in the blood vessel walls and more…
In a study of 4807 subjects free from myocardial infarction at baseline and followed for 7 years, those with the highest tertile intake of menaquinone (vitamin K2) compared to the lowest, resulted in a significant risk reduction in coronary heart disease.
Mitochondria are found in our cells and are considered mini power plants that regulate cellular energy metabolism. Vitamin K2 is an important player in the mitochondrial quality-control loop and repair of mitochondrial dysfunction.
Accumulating evidence suggests that vitamin K2 inhibits inflammatory responses and repairs mitochondrial damage induced by oxidative stress.
Because oxidative and neuroinflammatory mechanisms of cellular damage are associated with many neurological disorders, including neurodegenerative conditions, vitamin K2 can also afford some support here.
An increasing body of evidence suggests the possible role of K2 supplementation as a neuroprotective strategy in the maintenance of nerve integrity and normal brain function, including cognition.
It’s already well known in the scientific field that vitamin K2 is a necessary factor for the biosynthesis and metabolism of sphingolipids, an important class of lipids, which exist in high concentrations in brain cell membranes and function in brain cell events, including signaling between neurotransmitters.
Sources of vitamin K2
The vitamin K group has been associated with green leafy vegetables. But that’s where you will only find vitamin K1.
Vitamin K2 is found in butter, egg yolks, lard and animal products. The MK-7 subtype is found in fermented foods and some cheeses, like gouda and Jarlsberg. But any web search will reveal that natto is the highest source.
It’s important to know where to find it because current recommendations lump vitamin K into one group. Researchers, as recently as 2020, in the journal Nutrients, have called for a separate recommended daily intake for vitamin K2.
In their argument they state, “Almost 1000 years of northern Japanese cuisine has included ‘natto’, the world’s richest food source of VK2. A VK2-rich diet has existed for approximately 30 generations without any adverse side effects.”
But considering that the FDA tries to steer us towards pharmaceuticals and away from nutrition, it’s not all that surprising that they haven’t addressed that request.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!
The biological responses of vitamin K2: A comprehensive review — Food Science & Nutrition
Vitamins K1 and K2: The Emerging Group of Vitamins Required for Human Health — Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
Growing Evidence of a Proven Mechanism Shows Vitamin K2 Can Impact Health Conditions Beyond Bone and Cardiovascular — Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal