You’ve probably heard of vitamin K. If you’re interested in wellness, you may even know that vitamin K falls under the category of vitamins that are stored in the body and are fat-soluble. However, it may come as a surprise to you to learn that it’s not just a form of vitamin K.
There are two basic forms of vitamin K, and both forms have very different functions for the body. When most people talk about vitamin K, they think of vitamin K1, which is known for its role in blood clotting. Most of us have no idea about vitamin K2, and this is an important topic. Many health professionals confuse the two vitamins; so if the K2 is new to you, you are not alone.
Vitamin K2 is very important for the body
Let’s make a reminder about vitamin K1 first. Vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone; It is found in green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, and spinach and makes up most of the vitamin K. As I mentioned earlier, vitamin K1 is very important because of the role it plays in blood clotting. There are multiple proteins that rely on vitamin K1 to aid the blood clotting process that occurs during injuries, so in case of vitamin K1 deficiency we are at risk of not clotting the blood. Fortunately, vitamin K1 deficiencies are rare, as it is found in significant amounts in the average diet.
Although vitamin K1 can be easily obtained from the diet, it is not easily absorbed. On the other hand, vitamin K2 (or menaquinones) is much easier to absorb by the human body, but is more rare in a typical western diet.
Vitamin K1 is not deficient because it is easy to obtain from the foods we consume, but most of us do do, even though only small amounts of vitamin K2 are produced in our gut microbiomes. Vitamin K2 is an essential nutrient as it helps the body use calcium. Calcium acts as a directing agent; it directs it to where it should be like our teeth and bones and keeps it away from problem areas like our soft tissues and arteries. Adequate vitamin K2 intake has been associated with a reduced risk of cancer, improved brain health, and increased insulin sensitivity.
From which foods can we get vitamin K2
Where can we find vitamin K2 in our diet? This is the hardest part of the equation. For anyone who regularly consumes natto (the Japanese fermented soybean dish also pictured above), they probably don’t need to worry about getting enough vitamin K2 as it’s full of the vitamin, but for most of us (and the majority, myself included), our K2 consumption quite low.
With the exception of Natto, vitamin K2 is found almost exclusively in animal products such as liver and cheese, so vegans and vegetarians in particular are deficient in vitamin K2. But even if you’re eating substantial amounts of animal foods, more and more research is showing that most of us are extremely low on the vitamin K2 scale, and deficiencies are becoming more common worldwide. The most important reason for this is that even if we are consuming foods containing vitamin K2, you still need to consume a significant amount to meet basic nutritional requirements.
Therefore, you can take a vitamin K2 supplement as one of the recommended daily supplements for almost everyone, including children. As we see that the cases of vitamin K2 deficiency are increasing in the world, we also see that bone and heart health are adversely affected. I believe most people should take K2 supplements in the form of MK-7 as it has been clinically shown to be more effective than vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 as MK-4. As always, I recommend talking to your doctor before trying a new supplement.
Dyt. Serkan Sıtkı Şahin