Is Vitamin K2 Good For You?
The Japanese population throughout the ages have been blessed with longevity. They seem to have the secret to living longer. It has always been a belief that the system of exercise and a vegetable rich along with fish diet may have benefited the population with better health alongside their possible good genetics.
But what if the Japanese diet provides them with a different set of vitamins that may have improved their chances. Natto a staple of Japanese diet is high in Vitamin K2. Natto is fermented soy but it is considered part of the super food family. Examples of other super foods are olive oil, legumes, and yogurt. There are Harvard Medical School publications just devoted to discussing super foods and their health benefits. It is not a surprise that we may find one of the Japanese super foods getting major attention and pushing the vitamin industry to providing more variety than just the basic multivitamin. In this blog we plan to discuss not only the possible benefits of vitamin K2 but also its different forms as available in the vitamin industry.
What is Vitamin K2?
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin and is mostly known for its function in blood coagulation. Vitamin K was discovered in 1939 by Henrick Dam, who named the molecule vitamin K according to the Danish word for blood clotting coagulation.
Vitamin K occurs in our diet in two forms: vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) mostly found in green leafy vegetables and vitamin K2 (menaquinones) mainly found in animal foods, fermented dairy such as cheese, and natto (fermented soybeans see above discussion). Vitamin K2 includes a range of vitamin K forms and differs from vitamin K1 in its side-chain length and degree of saturation. Vitamin K2 is the most biologically active form of the two and has a longer half-life, days vs. hours, than vitamin K1.
While vitamin K1 is associated highly with clotting in the blood, vitamin K2 has been known to have other important benefits but lately the interest has been on its cardiovascular benefits.*
“Full-fat cheeses, eggs and beef liver might not be the types of foods that come to mind when you think about eating a heart-healthy diet. But you’d probably be surprised to know that in recent years, one of the most researched nutrients in the field of cardiovascular health has been vitamin K2, found in these very foods.”, states Dr. Josh Axe.
What foods are rich in Vitamin K2?
Here is a list of foods that provide vitamin K2. Levels of vitamin K2 in each food type depend on the quality of the products:
- Egg yolks
- Natto, fermented soy
- Cheese (varies based on cheese cultures)
- Dark chicken meat
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin K2?
Many believe that vitamin K2 can benefit us in many of the following ways:
- May improves bone and collagen levels in the face (youthfulness)*
- May reverses osteoporosis*
- May improves bone health along with vitamin D3*
- May reduces arterial plaques*
- May reduces kidney stones*
- May promotes teeth health*
- May reduces the risk of heart disease*
No study yet to date has tested such claims or proven vitamin K2 benefits. There are anecdotal studies and population studies, but they all fail to have a controlled evaluation of vitamin K2’s health benefits (see below).
What Is The Difference Between Vitamin K2, MK-4 and MK-7?
Vitamin K2 is also divided into several subtypes – the most popular side chains are MK-4 and MK-7. Let’s discuss the difference between MK-4 and MK-7 and create a strategy for adding Vitamin K2 to your diet. Also as stated above overall vitamin K2 has a much longer half-life days vs. hours than vitamin K1, hence its beneficial effects may be longer lasting. However, the unfortunate news is that K2 unlike K1 cannot be recycled and the bodies stores may be depleted quickly and hence K2 deficiency may occur quite quickly in days and hence the need for supplementation.
MK-4 is found in meat we consume. Chicken legs and thighs (dark meat) are some of the most popular MK-4 food items in Western hemisphere diets. Our bodies, however, have a hard time absorbing MK-4 through foods. The advantage of MK-4 variant is that it occurs naturally in nature.
Where is MK-7 Found?
MK-7 is man-made through the fermentation of soy products – think fermented vegetables popular in Asian and Indian cuisine. An example is gochujang, a savory and pungent fermented Korean condiment made with red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. If you’re thinking about learning to make gochujang at home: Traditionally, the fermentation process takes several years.
Also, MK-7 can be found in bacteria created in processing labs. The problem is that experts are undecided about the benefits of MK-7 due to a lack of studies.
MK-4 vs. MK-7?
Each vitamin (MK-4 & MK-7) has their own cons and pros, and the rest is “The Personal Preference”.
Pros of MK-4: In addition to the liver, the vitamin K found in the bone, brain, heart, testis, kidney, pancreas, and salivary glands is MK-4.MK-4, as the main vitamin K present in the brain, participates in the nervous system through its involvement in sphingolipid metabolism, a class of lipids widely present in brain cell membranes. Deterioration of sphingolipid metabolism causes cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Also, MK-4 has anti-inflammatory activity as well as offers protection against oxidative stress.
Cons of MK-4: MK-4 has a shorter half-life, and circulation removes the majority of vitamin K1and MK-4 within 24 hours of ingestion.
Pros of MK-7: While circulation removes majority MK-4 within 24 hours of ingestion, but MK-7 last for longer period and doesn’t appear to be completely removed from circulation after 72-96 hr. Therefore, MK-7 offers some benefits over MK-4 in terms of lower dosing and single daily dosing instead of multiple doses.
Cons of MK-7: MK-7 has lesser or no presence in tissue. MK-7 has none or negligible presence in brain tissue.
In general all the K2 variants in the body appear to be transformed to MK-4 as the final active product., MK-7 has longer half-life and more bioavailability but marketed much more (expensive) and lesser presence in tissues which is very important. That means your body better absorbs MK7 and it stays in your body for a longer period than MK-4, while MK-4 has shorter half-life but has much more presence than MK-7 in tissues of critical organs.
Vitamin K2 and Cardiovascular Health
Recent studies at the National Institute of Health (NIH) are trying to shed light on the association of vitamin K and cardiovascular health. Most cardiac events such as heart attacks occur due to vascular calcification and closure of the blood supply of the heart muscle. There is currently no effective treatment available for vascular calcification, and treatment is targeted to relieve symptoms such as heart surgery of various modalities to open the clogged heart arteries.
Therefore, understanding underlying mechanisms driving these processes is urgently needed to lower the burden of vascular calcification and associated health-care costs. Vitamin K in all forms is well known to help with vitamin K-dependent proteins which are also known as coagulation factors prothrombin and factor X. However, other vitamin K-dependent proteins have also been identified. Matrix gal protein (MGP) is a small extracellular matrix protein, synthesized in smooth muscle cells, that binds Ca2+ ions in the vascular wall and functions as a potent inhibitor of vascular calcification . Vitamin K deficiency results in the synthesis of under-carboxylated, biologically inactive MGP proteins, which results in a direct risk factor for vascular calcification and cardiovascular disease(CVD) .
Original Japanese studies mostly relied on dietary intake measures of vitamin K2, and natto intake to study the relationship with chronic diseases and CVD. These studies indicated that a high vitamin K2 intake is associated with improved cardiovascular health. However, self-reported dietary intake is imprecise and inherent to limitations to estimate nutrient intakes. Due to lack of proper blood tests available in the past true levels of vitamin K and its variants were difficult to obtain. With more modern testing methods and better design studies the true benefits of vitamin K2 and overall family of vitamin K shall come to light. Overall, observational studies indicate that vitamin K2 has a potential role in cardiovascular health particularly in prevention and avoidance of arterial calcification and plaque formation.
Supplementing Vitamin K2
If some of the foods mentioned above do not fit into your diet, we strongly recommend adding a vitamin K2 (MK-4) supplement to your daily routine. Do you struggle with swallowing vitamins? No worries here.
Frunutta Vitamin K2 (MK-4) tablets dissolve under the tongue, but they can also be chewed or swallowed.
If you are currently taking any anti-coagulant drugs (e.g. Warfarin, coumadin, heparin) or if you are pregnant, nursing, taking any other medications, or have any medical condition, consult your healthcare provider or your physician before taking any Vitamin K products.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This information is only for educational purposes and is not medical advice or intended as a recommendation of any specific products. Consult your health care provider for more information. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
- "Longevity." Wikipedia, 14 Mar. 2003.
"Japan Holds the Secret to Living Longer, and They Can Prove It." Trafalgar, 12 June 2020.
- "10 Reasons Why The Japanese Live Longer Than Any Other People On Earth." Pulptastic, 23 July 2015.
- Link, Rachael. "Natto: The Fermented Soy Superfood." Dr. Axe, 29 Aug. 2018.
- McManus, Katherine. "10 Superfoods to Boost a Healthy Diet." Harvard Health, 13 Apr. 2020.
- "Vitamin K2 (MK-4) 500 Mcg." Frunutta.
- "Henrik Dam." Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Booth, Sarah and Ala Rajabi. Determinants of vitamin K status in humans. National Library of Medicine, 2008.
- Menaquinone-7. PubChem, 2005.
- Levy, Jillian. "Vitamin K2 Foods Benefit Cardiovascular Health." Dr. Axe, 15 Oct. 2019.
- Axe, Josh. "About Dr. Josh Axe." Dr. Axe, 9 Mar. 2021.
- "Collagen." Wikipedia, 5 Sept. 2001.
- "Osteoporosis - Symptoms and Causes." Mayo Clinic, 19 June 2019.
- "Vitamin D3 Supplements: Lanolin Vs Lichen." Frunutta , 8 Oct. 2021.
- Pope, Sarah. "Which Vitamin K2 Supplement is Best: MK-4 or MK-7?" The Healthy Home Economist, 24 Aug. 2021.
- "Should You Take Calcium Supplements?" Frunutta, 8 Sept. 2021.
- Sato, Toshiro, et al. Comparison of Menaquinone-4 and Menaquinone-7 Bioavailability in Healthy Women. Nutrition Journal, 2012.
- "What Forms of Vitamins Are Best Absorbed." Frunutta , 30 Sept. 2021.
- "Coronary Angioplasty and Stents." Mayo Clinic, 15 Nov. 2019.
Prothrombin Time Test and INR (PT/INR): MedlinePlus Medical Test. Medline Plus, 2021.
- Factor X Deficiency. GARD, 22 Jan. 2019.
- "Definition of EXTRACELLULAR." Dictionary by Merriam-Webster.
- Luo, G., et al. Spontaneous Calcification of Arteries and Cartilage in Mice Lacking Matrix GLA Protein. PubMed, 1997.
- Cranenberg, Ellen, et al. Characterisation and Potential Diagnostic Value of Circulating Matrix Gla Protein (MGP) Species. 2010.
- Van Ballegooijen, A., and J. Beulens. The Role of Vitamin K Status in Cardiovascular Health: Evidence from Observational and Clinical Studies. 2017, US National Library of Medicine.
- Nagata, Chisato, et al. Dietary Soy and Natto Intake and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in Japanese Adults: The Takayama Study. PubMed, 2017.
- "Warfarin." Drugs.com.
Your shopping cart is empty.