What does Vitamin K2 do?
Posted on September 10 2020
Vitamin K2 is the unsung hero of the vitamin world. While vitamin K2 might not have the same high-profile reputation as the more well-known supplements such as vitamin C or vitamin B12, that doesn’t mean it isn’t essential in providing important benefits for your health and wellbeing. Vitamin K2 is a powerful nutrient that plays an important role in many aspects of your health and there is a chance you are not getting your daily recommended amount through diet alone. Therefore, it’s important to get clued up on vitamin K2 and its numerous health benefits to understand whether you need more of it.
What is Vitamin K2 and why do we need it?
Vitamin K, also known as menaquinone, is a fat-soluble vitamin that is an essential nutrient for blood coagulation (blood clotting), maintaining healthy bones by regulating calcium and improving heart health. It comes in two forms, vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. While K1 will also help to regulate blood clotting, vitamin K2 is even more essential in helping to regulate calcium. It does this by putting and keeping calcium in the places you want it, i.e. bones and teeth and pulls it out of places you don’t want calcium found, such as your arteries, your joints, and your kidneys.1 Therefore, maintaining healthy levels of K2 is especially important for those suffering with kidney stones, osteoporosis, or coronary heart disease.
What foods contain vitamin K2?
You may be able to maintain your vitamin K2 levels through a healthy and varied diet, however, it is more commonly found in more exotic foods that may not feature in everyone’s diets on a daily basis. While good natural food sources of vitamin K1 are common and can be found in vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, and broccoli, vitamin K2 is a bit trickier.2 High levels of vitamin K2 have been found in foods such as:
- Goose liver pate
- Natto (a fermented soybean commonly found in Japan)
Interestingly, the regions where these foods are most commonly consumed, such as Japan and the Dordogne region in France, which is famous for its production of foie gras, have some of the lowest rates of coronary heart disease in the world. However, while a diet filled with foie gras may provide you with an increased intake of vitamin K2, we certainly would not recommend!
Who would benefit most from increasing their intake of vitamin K2?
Vitamin D has several roles in our bodies, but its main role is to help us keep our calcium levels up. It helps our intestine to absorb calcium from the foods we eat, thus increasing the overall amount of calcium in our bodies.3 This is why vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 are a match made in heaven. Vitamin K2 acts as the calcium’s navigator within the body, telling the calcium where to go whilst effectively pulling out the excess calcium. This helps to avoid any build up within the joints or arteries.4
What to remember
Although vitamin K2 is the unsung hero of the vitamin and supplement world, it is essential in regulating your calcium intake. It also helps with blood clotting and maintaining a healthy heart as well as boosting energy levels. Maintaining levels of vitamin K2 through diet may be challenging which is why supplement intake of vitamin K2 is more common. Getting enough vitamin K2 by supplementing your diet will help prevent any problems high levels of calcium in the body could lead to and will go a long way in boosting your overall health.
1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc, 2011, National Academies Press (US)
2 Vitamin K supplementation and progression of coronary artery calcium in older men and women, April 22nd 2009, PubMed.gov
3 Low Vitamin D Levels, and Low Blood Vitamin D, July 19th 2019, New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)
4 A high menaquinone intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease, January 28th, 2008, PubMed.gov