Like all other nutrients required by the body, vitamin K is also an essential nutrient that our body needs. However, not everyone is aware of the importance of this vitamin.
Vitamin K is primarily composed of two main vitamins – vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K is important for the clotting of blood.
Therefore, if you happen to scratch yourself or injure any part of the body, vitamin K helps stops the bleeding. Vitamin K1 is found to play an active role in this process.
Vitamin K2, however, is not given much importance because its benefits are not known to many. Let’s examine what vitamin K2 is and why it is important for the body.
What Exactly Is Vitamin K2?
Vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone, is a fat-soluble vitamin that is part of vitamin K, along with vitamin K1. MK4 and MK7 are both forms of the natural vitamin K2.1
While vitamin K1 is present in plant-based sources like green leafy vegetables, vitamin K2 is present in animal-based and fermented foods. Vitamin K2 is also produced by the bacteria present in the human gut. It can also be created from vitamin K1.
Vitamin K2 may be one of those nutrients that we don’t get enough of but is important for the body’s optimal health. Let’s examine some of the health benefits of vitamin K2.
Health Benefits Of Vitamin K2
Most of us are unaware of the health benefits that vitamin K2 can offer. Some of these benefits are listed below.
1. It May Help Improve Bone Health
Calcium is an important mineral required by the body. Vitamin K2 activates a number of proteins that are responsible for the distribution calcium throughout the body.
In particular, vitamin K2 activates a protein called osteocalcin that is responsible for the distribution of calcium in the bones and teeth. Therefore, a deficiency of this nutrient may cause a decline in the bone mineral density and can make the bones more prone to injuries and fractures.
2. It May Prevent Heart Diseases
Vitamin K2 activates another protein called matrix Gla protein (MGP). By doing so, it aids the process of removing calcium from the soft tissues like arteries and veins, where calcium is not required.
This clears the heart of any block caused by excess calcium distribution. If vitamin K2 is absent or present in inadequate amounts in the body, it may cause the arteries to harden. Therefore, with enough K2 in the body, arteries remain clear keeping the heart healthy.
3. It May Help Fight Cancer
Although there is not much evidence about vitamin K2 and its role in fighting cancer or cancer-related issues, some early studies report that vitamin K2 may be able to fight cancer.
Some researchers have reported that a diet higher in vitamin K2 nutrient may be able to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer like liver cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer.2 However, more studies are required to substantiate that it may help reduce the risk of developing the deadly disease.
Therefore, vitamin K2 is an important nutrient that should be provided to the body for optimal health. Good nutrition is one way to ensure that your body gets enough of the nutrient.
How To Get Enough Vitamin K2?
For maintaining your body’s health, it is important to have both vitamin K1 and vitamin K2, or, in general, vitamin K. The recommended intake of vitamin K for adult men over the age of 19 years is 120 micrograms whereas, for women of the same age, it is 90 micrograms.3
A diet high in vitamin-K rich foods can ensure that your body gets enough of the nutrient. The most common dietary sources of vitamin K that most Americans include in their diet are spinach, broccoli, iceberg lettuce, and fats and oils particularly soybean and canola oil.
Vitamin K2 may not be present in significant amounts in these mentioned sources. Some of the best sources of vitamin K2 include the following:
- Fermented foods like natto (fermented soybeans)
However, severe deficiency of the nutrient may require you to use supplements. This should not be taken without consulting the doctor. The natural forms of vitamin K2 – MK4 and MK7 – are available in the form of supplements and research suggests that 45 milligrams per day is safe for use by humans.4
Therefore, vitamin K2 which can be obtained from certain food sources is important for the normal functioning of the body. However, it is important to consume vitamin K-rich sources so both types of the nutrient, K1 and K2, are present in the body in adequate amounts.