Vitamin K2: Vitamin D’s wingman and metabolic powerhouse

They’re essential helmsmen of our vessel: Vitamins K2 and D have a symbiotic partnership in our body; it’s K2, in particular, that has inviolable importance for calcium metabolism in all tissues. A deficiency increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Vitamin K2 (menaquinone)

Having previously detailed the discovery of the vitamin K group and interesting facts about vitamin K1, we turn now to vitamin K2.

A powerhouse at the wheel, Vitamin K2 steers the essential functions of blood clotting and bone maintenance. It activates the two proteins osteocalcin and MGP (Matrix Gla Protein), which are primarily responsible for calcium utilization in the blood. With the help of vitamin K2, calcium gets where it belongs and is needed. Vitamin K2 prevents the calcium in the blood from settling as plaque deposits in the arterial walls, thus keeping our circulation system clean.

How Vitamin K2 Works

Vitamin K2 comes in numerous subtypes, all of which differ somewhat in their origin and biochemical behavior. Indispensible to humans are the forms vitamin K2 through MK4 and MK7.

While vitamin K1 activates clotting factors in the liver first and foremost, vitamin K2 is crucial for calcium metabolism in all body tissues. The need for an adequate supply of vitamin K2 has now been proven in an ever-growing research log.

Vitamin K2 and vitamin D: Partners in this mission

An optimal supply of vitamin K2 is also key when vitamin D is on deck. In simple terms, vitamin D alone transports calcium from the intestines into the blood, but can only incorporate it into our skeletal structure (including our teeth) with the help of sufficient vitamin K2.

A deficiency of vitamin K2 leads to some haphazard steering: Without K2, the aleatory deposition of calcium in the body (for example, in blood-vessel walls and internal organs) prevents it from being incorporated into the tissues where it is needed (our bones and teeth).

In 2010, a meta-analysis was published in the British Medical Journal that found an inarguably increased risk of heart attack when calcium was supplemented without the addition of vitamin K2.

Conversely, a 2004 Rotterdam study associated a high intake of vitamin K2 with significantly less cardiovascular disease.

And vitamin K2 can actively undo damage, breaking down existing calcium deposits in blood vessels.

K2 is produced by bacteria

Unlike vitamin K1, K2 is produced by bacteria. For example, if you have a full-spectrum diet, you ingest K2 when you eat organic meat, because the animal’s intestinal bacteria produce K2 when digesting green plants.

But since our current diet is typically doused in antibiotics, we’re at increased risk to run deficient in vitamin K2, which in turn causes rising rates of heart attack and stroke.

A second source of K2 is the Japanese dish natto, which is made from soybeans fermented with Bacilus subtilis (hay bacillus) and a common foodsource of K2 for Japanese people.

Sources
  1. Orthoknowledge: Vitamin K more versatile than previously thought
  2. Gabriele Schünke, Dirk Kuhlmann, Werner Lau: Workbook Orthomolecular Medicine: Components of our Food for Prophylaxis and in Therapy, Paperback, 1997, p.40
  3. Steven Plaza & Davis Lamson: Vitamin K2 in Bone Metabolism and Osteoporosis (Altern Med Rev 2005;10(1):24-35)
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