Enhancing the life saving benefits of vitamin K
Studies have expanded the understanding of vitamin K. It has long been known 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. (4)
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.
Broad-spectrum vitamin K:
Research has revealed that vitamin K is important not only for blood clotting but also for bone and cardiovascular health. It has 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. Read more below.
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. (5) 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. (6)
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. (6)
Supplementation is a more efficient and practical way of increasing vitamin K intake.
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.
- Maresz K. Proper Calcium Use: Vitamin K2 as a Promoter of Bone and Cardiovascular Health. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2015 Feb;14(1):34-9.
- 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.