Vitamin K2 Overview and 3 reasons why you probably should add K2 to your diet.
Before I get into the reasons why someone's diet should be high in Vitamin K2, I would first like to discuss what Vitamin K and Vitamin K2 are. Vitamin K is one of the few fat-soluble vitamins (as is Vitamin D) that is essential in the body's role for blood clotting and is of utmost importance for the the body to build strong bones and prevent heart disease. What is the difference between vitamin K2 and Vitamin K1? Vitamin K1 is derived from plants while Vitamin K2 is derived from bacteria or fermentation of products like soy (natto). Vitamin K2 is the superior form of Vitamin K, as it has a longer half life (it stays in the body longer) and is much more bio-available or more readily absorbed from the gut into the body.
Which Form is Best? There are currently 3 forms of Vitamin K. There is Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and is derived from plant sources, e.g, foods such as spinach, then there is Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) which is produced by bacteria by fermentation. Finally, there is Vitamin K3 (menadione), which is the synthetic form of Vitamin K and is very hard to find due to its potentially toxic effects. According to my research and to my own experience, Vitamin K2 seems to be the most promising form of the K's. You can take a substantial amount without it being toxic, and has a much longer half life than its brother, Vitamin K1.
What are the Best Food sources for VitaminK2? Fermented foods are the only foods that contain Vitamin K2. A very good source of vitamin K2 is natto, which can be ordered at just about any online health store. Natto can be taken via a capsule or you can simply eat it. Many find this food to be an excellent tasting delicacy, however it is usually an acquired taste. Because vitamin K2 is not readily available in most diets, it's highly likely that the most convenient method of vitamin K2 consumption would be via supplementation.
Cost of Vitamin K2: Supplementing with Vitmain K2 is generally inexpensive. I use Life Extension Super-K, as it has a good dose of both vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2. At most online stores, this product runs just under $20 for 90 soft-gels, which I take every other day (that makes 1 bottle a 4 month supply). You can also get your share of Vitamin K2 by eating foods that are naturally high in K2, such as natto which is typically very inexpensive costing just a few bucks for a meal.
Why Take Vitamin K2?
Though most people consume sufficient levels of vitamin K in their diets, many are also deficient due to a poor diet, drugs, medications, or they have low levels due to a number of diseases i.e. Chron's disease. By supplementing with Vitamin K2 you can help your body stay healthy by keeping the following three health concerns in check. It has also been shown that Vitamin K2 may increase the expression of certain genes that promote health.
1. Keep Your Bones strong and help prevent or maintain Osteoporosis: Next to Vitamin D, Vitamin K is one of the most important vitamins geared for improving and maintaining bone density. It serves as sort of a "glue" for keeping the minerals in the bone's osteoblasts (the bone making cells of the body). This being the case, it may be smart to supplement with Vitamin K2 early on in life or eat foods high in Vitamin K2 to help prevent the onset of bone loss, which inevitably occurs around the age of 40. If someone already has osteoporosis or low bone density, it would likely be a good idea to also supplement or eat foods high in Vitamin K2 to keep the disease from progressing and to possibly prevent fracture . Of course, you should always consult with your Dr. before supplementing with any product or supplement and Vitamin K2 is no exception despite being extremely safe in most cases.
2. Preventing Arterial plagues and heart problems: Because Vitamin K helps the body send calcium where it needs to go, namely to the bone matrix, it helps keep blood calcium from building up on the arterial walls and in the heart. Arterial plaque is one of the main causes of heart disease. As we age (typically after we stop growing), the body no longer does as good of a job sending calcium where it belongs, so calcium ends up dangerously accumulating in places where it doesn't belong such as the arteries. With this being said, if you are on a calcium supplement, it's probably a good idea to also supplement with Vitamin K2 to help prevent said calcium from causing damage to the heart and arterial walls. It is also a good idea to make sure your blood vitamin D serum levels are normal as insufficient levels of vitamin D can also cause serious issues with calcium deposits.
3. Preventing Cancer: Though there is not sufficient evidence that suggests Vitamin K2 prevents liver cancer, there are plenty of studies that have shown that people who regularly take vitamin K2 have a lower incidence of liver cancer. While nobody knows why there is a lower incidence of cancer in those who take Vitamin K2, it is theorized by scientists that vitamin K2 may suppress cancer cells. With that being the case, it's reasonable to assume that vitamin K2 might also prevent other cancers. Either way, a healthy body is a body that will do a much better job warding off many types of cancers versus an unhealthy body. With vitamin K being essential for overall health, it's a good idea to make sure your body is receiving a sufficient amount of this vital nutrient.
Conclusion: While the whole story of vitamin K has yet to fully unravel, there are things we do know, e.g.,.Vitamin K is important for overall health and that vitamin K2 is the superior form of the vitamin that is extremely safe in most cases (i.e. you are not on certain medications, i.e..Warfarin ), so check with your Dr. before supplementing with any over the counter supplement. Vitamin K2 has been said to be the "missing link " in preventing bone loss with age and has been shown to help the body appropriately deal with calcium consumption.