Sometimes referred to as ‘the forgotten vitamin', this article answers your most common questions about Vitamin K2.
It can be hard to keep up with all the nutrients and vitamins our bodies need for various functions. We know we need our Vitamin C, our Omega-3’s and our proteins, but sadly most people have never heard of an essential nutrient that could just be the missing link between diet and many killer diseases. Often overlooked, Vitamin K2 is often never heard of until a mother has her first child and the nurse comes in to give a Vitamin K injection. Vitamin K2 is important in all life stages, not just for newborns or pregnant moms.
What is Vitamin K2?
There are several forms of Vitamin K, which is a fat soluble vitamin that is important for blood clotting and contributes to a healthy heart, bones and immune system.
Vitamin K1 - found naturally in leafy greens, it is used by the liver for proper blood clotting.
Vitamin K2 - is a more absorbable form of Vitamin K, usually found in fermented foods and supplements. It is used by soft tissues in the body and is helpful for bones, heart tissue and more.
Vitamin K3 - is a synthetic form of Vitamin K, is typically what is injected into newborns.
Vitamin K2 is found in fermented raw grass fed dairy and in other fermented foods. This is due to K2 being a product of the fermentation and that it is created by certain bacteria. Generally, these foods contain a lower amount of K2 (compared to the K1 in leafy greens), but being the more absorbable form of vitamin K, K2 is much more is absorbed. Studies have shown great health and cardiovascular benefits from K2 and hardly any effect from K1. K1 is needed for proper blood clotting and is used by the liver, while K2 greatly benefits the bones and controls the body's utilization of calcium. Animal studies have shown that K1 converts to K2, however this is not the case in humans. We need food or supplemental sources - like Prairie Naturals Vitamin K2 - for good health.
How much vitamin K2 should I take for osteoporosis?
We know less about the role of vitamin K in bone health than we do about calcium and vitamin D, but research tells us that not getting enough vitamin K from the diet may lead to weaker bones and an increased risk of fractures. If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, you should take a daily supplement providing 50 to 100 mcg (not mg) of this vitamin. Studies have shown that those with lower vitamin K intake had a 30% higher risk of hip fracture than those with higher intakes of at least 100 mcg per day. Those who’s K2 intake met the 100 mcg per day had 65% lower risk of hip fracture than those with minimal K2 intake.
At present, research into vitamin K2 supplements for bone health have shown the following benefits:
- Slows down the rate of bone weakening after menopause
- Increases bone strength and may decrease the number of fractures in women with osteoporosis
- May boost the effectiveness of osteoporosis medications
Is vitamin K2 safe during pregnancy?
K2 supplementation has been shown to improve bone health for expecting mothers and to reduce the risk of bone-related pain. Research has indicated that K2 is particularly important during pregnancy for both mother and child. K2 deficiency during pregnancy can be harmful to the unborn child during the development of the child’s skeletal system. This continues once the child is born if the levels of vitamin K are low in breast milk.
In extreme cases, lower vitamin K levels during pregnancy can result in pregnancy-associated osteoporosis. This causes severe pain and at times, vertebral fractures. The situation can be improved by K2 supplementation. Controlled studies done in Japan have shown that women who were given 20 mg of K2 for about a week prior to giving birth, had more K2 in their blood compared to women who did not supplement their intake. K2 levels were elevated in umbilical cord blood which indicated increased transfer between mother and child. As a result, none of the K2-treated mothers showed signs of vitamin K deficiency at birth, compared to 90% of the newborns whose mothers were not given K2 supplementation.
Which foods contain vitamin K2?
Although it can be difficult at times, It is always best to try to get enough vitamins and minerals from your diet. Vitamin K2 is found in meat, eggs and dairy foods, especially fermented products like cheese and yoghurt. Vitamin K2 levels are particularly high in a Japanese fermented soybean product known as natto. Saurkraut and kimchi can also contain vitamin K2, but typically in lower amounts around 10-15 mcg per cup.
Food sources of K2:
- Natto (best source)
- Grass fed butter (raw)
- Grass fed cheese (raw)
- Egg Yolks
- Chicken livers
- Grass fed Beef
Vitamin K2 supplements
Studies have shown that vitamin K2 supplements are safe for most people (people taking certain blood-thinning drugs, including warfarin, should not use vitamin K supplements), and can help improve the bone health of postmenopausal women. If you are considering taking a vitamin K2 supplement, it is recommended that you discuss this with your healthcare provider.
If you found this article interesting and are looking at adding a K2 supplement to your diet, you may be interested in our current promotion with Prairie Naturals, You can always depend on the quality and value of Prairie Naturals.