Vitamin K is a family of nutrients
Vitamin K is akin to vitamin B in that it is a family of nutrients rather than a single compound. Vitamin K1, for example, is a micronutrient found naturally in leafy green vegetables, while vitamin K2, a fat-soluble micronutrient often found in meats, cheeses, eggs, fermented dairy products and other fermented foods like natto.
K2 (also known as menaquinone) is the lesser known K vitamin, but it’s catching the attention of researchers and supplement users for its wide range of potential applications.
Vitamin K2 is available in supplement form
Just as there are several forms of vitamin K, there are also a few different forms of vitamin K2. The two main forms in supplement form are menaquinone-4 (MK-4) and menaquinone-7 (MK-7).
However, MK-4 is rare as a supplement because it has such a short viable life span. This means that your body has a limited amount of time to make use of the nutrient, and therefore you end up having to take multiple doses per day to make it worth it. Due to this reason, if you’re buying a K2 supplement, it's likely you’re buying MK-7.
K2 influences where calcium ends up in your body
The main role vitamin K plays in your body is promoting blood coagulation and clotting. While vitamin K1 is mostly involved in this aforementioned coagulation process, vitamin K2 actually influences where that calcium ultimately ends up in your body - it’s this influence over calcium that connects vitamin K2 to both cardiovascular and bone health.
Calcium is a mineral most often associated with bone health, as it is a primary component of your bone structure. But calcium is also found arteries and blood vessels, where it can have negative health effects at high quantities.
K2 supplements may be beneficial to those already taking bone health products
As we can see Vitamin K plays a role in supporting proper calcium levels throughout the body - without adequate levels of K2, this process is inefficient and can lead to issues. This has led many health professionals to recommend vitamin K2 supplements to those who are already taking bone health products like vitamin D, calcium and magnesium to help further support adequate calcium levels throughout your body.
It is difficult to get enough vitamin K2 from diet alone, the only vegetarian source is natto, and animal-derived foods have to be grass fed due to the K1 in the grass being converted to K2 when the grass is digested. We can actually do something similar, albeit inefficiently, by converting the K1 in green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli and cabbage into K2.
So if you're keen to get K2 from diet alone, natto is your best bet otherwise eating grass fed beef as well as a lot of green veg is essential. Alternatively opt for an easy and efficient vitamin K2 supplement.
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.