Enhancing the Life Saving Benefits of Vitamin KPrint
By Lisa Stanton
Recent studies have expanded our understanding of vitamin K. We’ve long known it to be essential for bone density along with heart health.1-3 More ways have been discovered to optimize vitamin K’s benefits. This has enabled researchers to create a more biologically-active vitamin K formula.
Vitamin K in Food
Scientists have identified different forms and amounts of vitamin K that are found in foods. This work provides crucial insights into the types of vitamin K we should be consuming.
It also reveals limitations in relying on food to supply the types and levels of vitamin K associated with peak bone and cardiovascular health.
Forms of Vitamin K
Vitamin K in food comes in two general forms:
- Vitamin K1 (or phylloquinone), found primarily in leafy green vegetables.
- Vitamin K2, found in natto or fermented soy, and in animal products such as eggs, meat, milk, and cheese.6
Vitamin K2 has several subtypes denoted by a number, such as MK-4, MK-6, and MK-7. MK stands for menaquinones, which are forms of vitamin K that vary in their organic structure.
MK-7 is a long-acting form of vitamin K that has been available as a dietary supplement for many years. MK-9 has only recently become available in supplement form.
Limits to Dietary Intake of Vitamin K
Studies show that there are problems in relying on diet to supply all these forms of vitamin K. Vitamin K1 in foods has low bioavailability.8 This means that even if you eat a large amount of leafy green vegetables, you may not absorb adequate amounts of vitamin K1.
Vitamin K2 is found in highest concentrations in many foods that people try to limit, such as foods high in saturated fat.9 One would have to consume massive amounts of cheese to achieve the optimal K2 levels that are supported by human clinical trials. And low-fat versions of these foods often have much less vitamin K2 content, or even none at all.9
Supplementation is a more efficient and practical way of increasing vitamin K intake. But what are the optimal doses of the various types of vitamin K that we should be consuming daily?
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Broad-Spectrum Vitamin K
- Vitamin K is an essential vitamin found in two general forms, K1 and K2.
- Research has revealed that vitamin K is important not only for blood clotting but also for bone and cardiovascular health.
- Research has also helped clarify the ideal doses of vitamin K1 and K2 needed to optimize bone and heart health.
Due to poor bioavailability and high fat content of foods containing the most vitamin K, obtaining adequate vitamin K in the diet is problematic.
Vitamin K’s Role in Bones and Blood Vessels
The effect of vitamin K on the production of blood clotting factors crucial for normal clotting has been well understood. But research has just recently revealed its impact on bones and blood vessels.
Several proteins have been discovered in both bone and blood vessels that are vitamin K-dependent. This means that they require adequate levels of vitamin K to function.2,3
Vitamin K is essential for producing active osteocalcin, a bone hormone involved in new bone formation and often used as a biochemical marker of overall skeletal health.
Vitamin K supports the deposition of calcium in bone. In blood vessels vitamin K has the opposite effect of helping to prevent excess calcium deposition. Calcification in arteries is common in older age and is associated with arterial stiffening, atherosclerotic plaque, and increased risk for heart and kidney disease.3
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that is being recognized for more health benefits than just aiding blood clotting. Scientific research demonstrates that adequate intake of vitamin K is crucial for optimal bone, heart valve, and blood vessel health. New studies reveal the importance of new forms of vitamin K that are associated with reduced risk of age-related outcomes.
Using this knowledge, scientists have created a broad-spectrum vitamin K formula, with beneficial MK-6 and MK-9 compounds, along with K1, MK-4, and MK-7.
- Akbari S, Rasouli-Ghahroudi AA. Vitamin K and Bone Metabolism: A Review of the Latest Evidence in Preclinical Studies. Biomed Res Int. 2018;2018:4629383.
- Villa JKD, Diaz MAN, Pizziolo VR, et al. Effect of vitamin K in bone metabolism and vascular calcification: A review of mechanisms of action and evidences. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Dec 12;57(18):3959-70.
- Wen L, Chen J, Duan L, et al. Vitamin Kdependent proteins involved in bone and cardiovascular health (Review). Mol Med Rep. 2018 Jul;18(1):3-15.
- Geleijnse JM, Vermeer C, Grobbee DE, et al. Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study. J Nutr. 2004 Nov;134(11):3100-5.
- Hao G, Zhang B, Gu M, et al. Vitamin K intake and the risk of fractures: A meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Apr;96(17):e6725.
- Maresz K. Proper Calcium Use: Vitamin K2 as a Promoter of Bone and Cardiovascular Health. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2015 Feb;14(1):34-9.
- Gast GC, de Roos NM, Sluijs I, et al. A high menaquinone intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Sep;19(7):504-10.
- Gijsbers BL, Jie KS, Vermeer C. Effect of food composition on vitamin K absorption in human volunteers. Br J Nutr. 1996 Aug;76(2):223-9.
- Fu X, Harshman SG, Shen X, et al. Multiple Vitamin K Forms Exist in Dairy Foods. Curr Dev Nutr. 2017Jun;1(6):e000638.
- Brandenburg VM, Reinartz S, Kaesler N, et al. Slower Progress of Aortic Valve Calcification With Vitamin K Supplementation: Results From a Prospective Interventional Proof-of-Concept Study. Circulation. 2017 May 23;135(21):2081-3.
- Available at: https://www.cardiosmart.org/heartvalvedisease. Accessed March 8, 2019.
- Available at: https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2626/2. Accessed March 8, 2019.
- Koitaya N, Ezaki J, Nishimuta M, et al. Effect of low dose vitamin K2 (MK-4) supplementation on bio-indices in postmenopausal Japanese women. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2009 Feb;55(1):15-21.
- Koitaya N, Sekiguchi M, Tousen Y, et al. Low-dose vitamin K2 (MK-4) supplementation for 12 months improves bone metabolism and prevents forearm bone loss in postmenopausal Japanese women. J Bone Miner Metab. 2014 Mar;32(2):142-50.
- Available at: https://www.nof.org/preventing-fractures/general-facts/what-women-need-to-know/. Accessed March 8, 2019.
- Knapen MH, Braam LA, Drummen NE, et al. Menaquinone-7 supplementation improves arterial stiffness in healthy postmenopausal women. A double-blind randomised clinical trial. Thromb Haemost. 2015May;113(5):1135-44.
- Knapen MH, Drummen NE, Smit E, et al. Three-year low-dose menaquinone-7 supplementation helps decrease bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women. Osteoporos Int. 2013 Sep;24(9):2499-507.
- Beulens JW, Bots ML, Atsma F, et al. High dietary menaquinone intake is associated with reduced coronary calcification. Atherosclerosis. 2009 Apr;203(2):489-93.
- Kumar R, Binkley N, Vella A. Effect of phylloquinone supplementation on glucose homeostasis in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Dec;92(6):1528-32.
- Nakamura E, Aoki M, Watanabe F, et al. Low-dose menaquinone-4 improves gamma-carboxylation of osteocalcin in young males: a non-placebo-controlled dose-response study. Nutr J. 2014 Aug 27;13:85.
- Rasekhi H, Karandish M, Jalali MT, et al. The effect of vitamin K1 supplementation on sensitivity and insulin resistance via osteocalcin in prediabetic women: a double-blind randomized controlled clinical trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 Aug;69(8):891-5.
- Theuwissen E, Cranenburg EC, Knapen MH, et al. Low-dose menaquinone-7 supplementation improved extra-hepatic vitamin K status, but had no effect on thrombin generation in healthy subjects. Br J Nutr. 2012 Nov 14;108(9):1652-7.
- Cockayne S, Adamson J, Lanham-New S, et al. Vitamin K and the prevention of fractures: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arch Intern Med. 2006 Jun 26;166(12):1256-61.