The vitamin K2 it is one of the great unknowns within vitamin supplements or foods with vitamins. The Western diet it is not characterized precisely by the great variety of foods, especially if we compare it with the Arab world or Asian culture.
That is why many times we leave aside this vitamin and we may have deficiencies that we must correct as soon as possible. In this article we do a review of what is vitamin K and where we can find it through the foods.
What is vitamin K?
Vitamin K was researched and discovered in the 30s and was quickly considered as a essential nutrient linked to blood clotting.
At the time, the first magazine to echo was in Germany, which defined it as “Koagulationsvitamin”. Hence its name from vitamin k.
Later research also knew how to connect chronic diseases and dental with the lack of this vitamin, and was related to Western food, especially when the vegetable consumption.
Currently, there are two main forms of vitamin K, K1 and K2.
Known as phylloquinone. We get it from plant foods, especially leafy vegetables.
Known as menaquinone. It is obtained in a greater variety of foods, both in vegetables and in animal products.
Within vitamin K2, a subdivision of several branches is established, the most important as an essential nutrient being subvitamin MK4 and MK7.
How do vitamins K1 and K2 work?
Today it is known that, in general, vitamins K1 and K2 are intimately related to blood clotting, cardiovascular health and calcium absorption.
The scientific community it does not yet know whether or not there is a relationship between vitamins K1 and K2 to classify them within the same group or to separate them.
Main benefits of vitamin K2
Prevention of cardiovascular diseases
The calcium It is a very important mineral to avoid the appearance of cardiovascular diseases in our body. [See study]
Calcium deficiency causes not only bone problems but also heart disease.
The importance of the vitamin K2 It is an important element to ensure the fixation of calcium in the arteries. [See study]
As we have mentioned before, the effects on the prevention of cardiovascular diseases they are not currently linked to vitamin K1 consumption.
Hence its differentiation.
The scientific community agrees that more studies are needed to link the prevention of heart disease to vitamin K2.
Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
Although we have already advanced some important things of the calcium absorption and vitamin K2, there is still an important part to tell you.
Osteoporosis is currently a serious problem in older people, and a very high risk of suffering serious fractures even with small falls.
Although the Western diet is not exactly low in calcium (milk, yogurts, vegetables, etc.), it can be the vitamin incorporation linked to the correct absorption of this mineral.
Vitamin D plays a very important role in this, but vitamin K2 does too, as it is related to calcium metabolism.
The activity of this vitamin on calcium absorption is based on the activity of 2 proteins:
- Osteocalcin protein
- GLA matrix protein
Other studies conducted in Western and Asian countries have found the same relationship. However, the results need more research to find common ground.
Vitamin K2 and oral health
As already proven in the 30s about the “essential nutrient” (vitamin K2) and dental health, today it is still thought that this nutrient is related to dental health.
However, since its discovery, no related studies have been conducted.
Researchers have speculated that the lack of vitamin K2 can affect dental health. However, no human studies have proven this directly.
The only relationship that exists today is the verification that it is intimately linked with the bone health, hence the extrapolation to dental health.
May help fight some types of cancer
Adequate nutrition that meets all nutritional needs is linked to a lower ratio of serious diseases, including some types of cancer.
Many studies and clinical trials have been conducted to verify the relationship of different vitamins and the evolution of this disease.
In the case of vitamin K2, there are 2 studies that relate its intake to the reduction of the recurrence of liver cancer, lengthening the survival time. [See study]
In men, there is a very complex study of 11,000 men that linked vitamin K2 intake to 63% less prostate cancer. [See study]
However, the same effects were not found, as we have discussed above, with vitamin K1.
To establish stronger relationships between different types of cancer and the intake of this nutrient, more long-term studies are needed.
What foods provide me with vitamin K2?
Vitamin K differs between type 1 and type 2. The K1 is much more common than K2.
Our organism has the ability to power transform K1 into K2 depending on our needs, since it is up to 10 times more likely to get K1 in food compared to K2.
On the other hand, this transformation not very efficient, so we can’t expect to survive solely by ingesting vitamin K1.
Many organisms and bacteria found in our gut are capable of producing vitamin K2. Hence, it is very important not to affect the bacterial flora and fiber consumption.
Prebiotic foods are also essential in our diet.
Vitamin K2 can be found in fermented products and animal meat.
Dairy products (yogurts, cheese and milk, among others), egg yolk and animal viscera. In general, given its solubility in lipids (fats) it usually appears in foods with fat.
- Animal: vitamin MK-4 subtype
- Fermented products (natto, sauerkraut, miso): subtype MK-5 and MK-14
Likewise, if we do not consume enough vitamin K (especially K2), there are vitamin supplements that contain it, and that can help us at different stages of our lives.
Collaboration between vitamins is also essential, and the response of these nutrients has been shown to be greater when combined with others, especially with vitamin D. [Source of information]