When people think about vitamin K, they usually think about its key role in blood clotting. You probably don’t know the other health benefits of Vitamin K2. Even though it does play an important role in the cardiovascular system, its benefits go far beyond the health of your blood. It is important to learn the differences between the different types of vitamin K and what they do. How can you get more vitamin K in your diet?
What Is Vitamin K2 versus K1?
First, there are different types of vitamin K, with the most common examples being vitamin K2 and vitamin K 1. Vitamin K was discovered in the early 1900s after an experiment went wrong. A group of research animals bled to death following a restrictive diet that removed cholesterol and unknowingly, also vitamin K. Without vitamin K, their blood could not clot.
Danish researcher Henrik Dam published his findings in a German research journal where the chemical was translated as Koagulationsvitamin and then became known as “Vitamin K”.
Scientist Edward Doisy did follow-up research to determine the structure of Vitamin K and in 1943, Dam and Doisy shared the Nobel Prize for their efforts.
This led to more research on vitamin K that uncovered multiple types. The first is called vitamin K1. This is also called phylloquinone, and it is frequently found in leafy green vegetables. This form of vitamin K is responsible for the vast majority of vitamin K people consume in their diets.
The other type of vitamin K is called vitamin K2. It is frequently found in fermented foods, and animal products, and is even produced by bacteria that live in your gut. There are several subcategories of vitamin K2. These are usually called MKs and range from MK4 to MK7 and even MK13. Overall, vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 make up the vast majority of vitamin K that people consume.
What Are the Health Benefits of Vitamin K2?
Even though most of the vitamin K that people consume comes from vitamin K1, there are numerous health benefits to consuming vitamin K2 as well. A few examples of the major health benefits of vitamin K2 include:
The Role of Vitamin K2 in Blood Clotting
One of the most important roles of vitamin K in the human body is blood clotting. This role includes vitamin K2. It is true that excessive blood clotting can be a bad thing; however, it is important to strike a healthy balance. If the blood does not clot when it is supposed to, it is possible for people to bleed to death. Without enough vitamin K, even a paper cut can lead to significant medical complications.
For example, there are a lot of people who take a medication called warfarin to prevent the blood from clotting too quickly. If you are taking blood thinners, talk to your doctor before starting to increase your vitamin K2 thru diet or a supplement since there may be an impact on the effectiveness of your blood thinner.
Vitamin K2 plays a significant role in blood clotting. Furthermore, medical studies have shown that the impact of vitamin K2 on blood clotting is significantly more powerful than the impact of vitamin K1. As a result, it is important for people to monitor their food intake to make sure they are getting enough vitamin K, including vitamin K2. This is particularly important for people who take blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin. People need to meet with their doctors regularly to make sure they are getting enough vitamin K and that their blood is behaving as it should.
Vitamin K2 Can Prevent Bone Fractures
In addition, medical researchers believe that vitamin K2 plays a significant role in the prevention of bone fractures. There are a number of vitamins and minerals that are responsible for bone health. Most people think about calcium and vitamin D when it comes to the health of their bones. At the same time, Vitamin K is also important.
For example, Vitamin K is responsible for activating numerous proteins that are required for the growth and development of new bone tissue. Furthermore, multiple studies have been produced showing that low levels of vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 can increase the risk of bone fractures.
On the other hand, when the study breaks up vitamin K1 and vitamin K2, research has shown that vitamin K2 is significantly more important. For example, the MK4 subtype of vitamin K2 appears to be particularly important in protecting the health of the bones. Ultimately, Vitamin K is critical for the overall health of the bone structure. It is important for everyone to make sure they consume enough vitamin K2 and their diets to make sure their bones are healthy. This is particularly important as they get older, as the density of bone tissue can decline with age, making people more susceptible to bone fractures.
Vitamin K2 Is Important for Cardiovascular Health
Finally, vitamin K2 also appears to play a critical role in the overall health of your heart. Vitamin K is responsible for activating a specific protein that prevents calcium from depositing in the arteries. If calcium is allowed to deposit in the arteries, it can lead to blood clots, restricting blood flow to important parts of the body.
Numerous medical studies have been produced showing that vitamin K2 is better at reducing calcium deposits in the cardiovascular system than vitamin K1. Therefore, it is important for people to pay close attention to how much vitamin K they are consuming. Specifically, studies have shown that MK7 form of vitamin K2 appears to be particularly beneficial in protecting the health of the heart. Some people have even taken supplements to help them protect their cardiovascular systems.
Many of these benefits are relatively new, so there are still a lot of ongoing studies. Even though it is important for people to ensure they consume enough vitamin K2 to protect their hearts, it is just as important for people to make sure they exercise regularly to prevent the development of chronic medical complications. It will be interesting to see what further research reveals.
These are just a few of the many benefits of consuming vitamin K2 regularly. It is critical for people to watch their diets closely to make sure they get enough vitamin K2.
Is There Good Medical Research on Vitamin K2?
A lot of the research surrounding vitamin K2 is still relatively new. Therefore, a lot of medical professionals are still producing research studies on vitamin K2. At the same time, there is already a lot of research data showing just how beneficial it is for people to consume vitamin K2 on a regular basis. For example, a few important studies people may want to look at include:
- A medical study was produced showing that people who take vitamin K2 supplements, specifically MK7, might be able to reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular complications.
- Some observational studies have been produced showing that vitamin K2 is better than vitamin K1 at helping people protect their blood vessels from calcium deposition.
- Medical studies have also been produced to showing that lower levels of vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 could increase someone’s risk of developing a serious bone fracture.
- Medical studies have also shown that eating a single serving of natto that contains a lot of vitamin K2 could significantly change the way someone’s blood clots for up to four days.
These are just a few of the many medical studies that have been published so far taking a look at the impact of vitamin K2 on different parts of the body. It will be interesting to see what future medical studies show.
How To Get More Vitamin K2 in Your Diet
Clearly, there are a lot of potential benefits that come with consuming vitamin K2. At the same time, foods that contain lots of vitamin K1 do not necessarily contain lots of vitamin K2. Therefore, it is important to take a closer look at how someone might be able to get more vitamin K2 in their diets.
Those who are looking for greater levels of vitamin K2 MK4 should try to stick with animals and dairy products. For example, lots of organ meats, including kidneys and liver, contain lots of vitamin K2 MK4. This subtype can also be found in relatively high levels in cheese, eggs, butter, and chicken. Read our full article about foods high in vitamin K2 here.
Anyone who is looking for greater levels of vitamin K2 MK7 should try to target fermented foods. For example, kimchi, which is a Korean dish that is made from fermented cabbage, contains very high levels of vitamin K2 MK7. Natto, which is a Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans, also contains very high levels of vitamin K2 MK7.
It is also possible that the body may convert some types of vitamin K into other types when they are required.