Vitamin K2 may not be the most talked-about or in-vogue nutrient, but its importance shouldn’t be underestimated. It plays a significant role in our body, from ensuring our blood clots when necessary to keeping our bones healthy and preventing heart disease.
This article will explain what K2 is, the benefits of increasing your levels, and how to get more K2 in your diet.
In this article:
Vitamin K2, or menaquinone, is a subtype of the vitamin K family. Vitamin K2 is vital for our overall health – its roles include:
Blood Clotting: Vitamin K2 assists in the synthesis of several proteins that are necessary for blood clotting. These proteins help maintain a delicate balance within the body, preventing excessive bleeding and thrombosis, where blood clots form within blood vessels (Gast et al., 2009).
Bone Health: Vitamin K2 collaborates with vitamin D to ensure calcium is correctly deposited in our bones and teeth, preventing bone conditions like osteoporosis and enhancing overall bone strength and health (Knapen et al., 2007).
Cardiovascular Health: K2 helps reduce the risk of heart diseases by preventing calcification within the arteries, a significant contributing factor to heart diseases and a healthier cardiovascular system (Geleijnse et al., 2004).
On top of these vital functions, increasing your levels of Vitamin K2 could lead to the following:
Better bone health: Studies have shown a strong association between vitamin K2 and improved bone mineral density. It's known to reduce the risk of fractures, particularly in postmenopausal women, who are at a higher risk of osteoporosis (Knapen et al., 2013).
Improved heart health: Adequate vitamin K2 intake has been associated with lower arterial calcification and aorta stiffness, improving cardiovascular health (Vossen et al., 2020).
Support your cognitive health: Emerging research suggests a potential role of vitamin K in supporting cognitive function. More extensive studies are needed in this area, but the research is promising. (Presse et al., 2013).
To explain this, imagine your body is like a construction site, where calcium is the bricks and vitamin D is the delivery truck that brings the bricks to the site. The bricks can't get to the site without the delivery truck. So the building - in this case, your bones - can't be built. That's why having enough vitamin D is crucial: it helps your body absorb the necessary calcium.
Now, here's where vitamin K2 comes in. Think of it as the site manager who tells the delivery truck where to drop off the bricks. With a good site manager, the bricks go exactly where they should - building strong bones and teeth. But without a site manager, the delivery truck might dump the bricks anywhere. In your body, that means calcium could end up in places it shouldn't be, like your arteries and soft tissues, which could lead to health problems.
Calcium is in many plant-based foods – but to benefit from it, it’s important to ensure you get enough Vitamin D and K2.
Firstly, it’s important to note that vitamin K deficiency is rare but can lead to health problems like prolonged clotting times, easy bruising, and osteoporosis. The recommended daily intake of vitamin K (both K1 and K2) for adults is about 90-120 micrograms, but this can vary depending on age, sex, and overall health (Schurgers et al., 2008).
Adopting a plant-based lifestyle doesn't mean you have to miss out on vital nutrients such as vitamin K2. While it's mainly found in animal products, there are several plant-based sources of K2:
Natto: High in vitamin K2, this traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans can significantly boost your vitamin K2 intake.
Sauerkraut and Kimchi: These popular fermented foods, staples in German and Korean cuisines, respectively, are also good sources of vitamin K2.
Green Laver and Nori: Green laver (also known as sea lettuce) and nori (a type of seaweed used in Japanese cuisine) can be excellent additions to a plant-based diet. Studies have shown that they contain vitamin K2 (Takenaka et al., 2001), helping to enhance your body's vitamin K2 levels.
If you’re not a fan of fermented foods, it's crucial to ensure you're supplementing with K2. Vivo Life has made it easy with Vitamin D3 and K2. Our Vitamin D3 and K2 supplement provides a high dose of these essential vitamins. It's in a liquid form for absorbability and convenience. When you become a Vivo Life subscriber, each dose will cost you just £0.13 per serving.
Get your Vitamin D3 + K2 supplement
Booth, S. L., Martini, L., Peterson, J. W., Saltzman, E., Dallal, G. E. & Wood, R. J. (2017) Dietary phylloquinone depletion and repletion in older women. The Journal of Nutrition, 133(8), pp.2565–2569.
EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (2015) Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for vitamin K. EFSA Journal, 13(7), p. 4185.
Gast, G. C., de Roos, N. M., Sluijs, I., Bots, M. L., Beulens, J. W., Geleijnse, J. M., Witteman, J. C., Grobbee, D. E., Peeters, P. H. & van der Schouw, Y. T. (2009) A high menaquinone intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease. Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases, 19(7), pp. 504-510.
Geleijnse, J. M., Vermeer, C., Grobbee, D. E., Schurgers, L. J., Knapen, M. H., van der Meer, I. M., Hofman, A. & Witteman, J. C. (2004) Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study. The Journal of Nutrition, 134(11), pp.3100-3105.
Knapen, M. H., Schurgers, L. J. & Vermeer, C. (2007) Vitamin K2 supplementation improves hip bone geometry and bone strength indices in postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis International, 18(7), pp. 963-972.
Knapen, M. H., Drummen, N. E., Smit, E., Vermeer, C. & Theuwissen, E. (2013) Three-year low-dose menaquinone-7 supplementation helps decrease bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis International, 24(9), pp. 2499-2507.
Presse, N., Shatenstein, B., Kergoat, M. J. & Ferland, G. (2013) Low Vitamin K Intakes in Community-Dwelling Elders at an Early Stage of Alzheimer's Disease. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(12), pp. 2095-2099.
Schurgers, L. J., Teunissen, K. J., Hamulyák, K., Knapen, M. H., Vik, H. & Vermeer, C. (2007) Vitamin K–containing dietary supplements: comparison of synthetic vitamin K1 and natto-derived menaquinone-7. Blood, 109(8), pp. 3279-3283.
Schurgers, L. J., Cranenburg, E. C. & Vermeer, C. (2008) Matrix Gla-protein: The calcification inhibitor in need of vitamin K. Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 100(04), pp. 593-603.
Shea, M. K., Booth, S. L., Massaro, J. M., Jacques, P. F., D'Agostino Sr, R. B., Dawson-Hughes, B., Ordovas, J. M., O'Donnell, C. J., Kathiresan, S., Keaney Jr, J. F., Vasan, R. S. & Benjamin, E. J. (2008) Vitamin K and vitamin D status: associations with inflammatory markers in the Framingham Offspring Study. The American journal of epidemiology, 167(3), pp.313-320.
Takenaka, S., Sugiyama, S., Ebara, S., Miyamoto, E., Abe, K., Tamura, Y., Watanabe, F. & Tsuyama, S. (2001) Feeding dried purple laver (nori) to vitamin B12-deficient rats significantly improves vitamin B12 status. British Journal of Nutrition, 85(6), pp. 699-703.
Vossen, L. M., Schurgers, L. J., van Varik, B. J., Kietselaer, B. L., Vermeer, C., Meeder, J. G., Rahel, B. M., van Cauteren, Y. J., Hoffland, G. A., Rennenberg, R. J. & Reesink, K. D. (2020) Menaquinone-7 Supplementation to Reduce Vascular Calcification in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease: Rationale and Study Protocol (VitaK-CAC Trial). Nutrients, 7(11), p. 890.