Vitamin K is a group of fat soluble vitamins. Without going into intricate detail, vitamin K is broken into three groups: K1, K2, K3. Vitamin K1 is most commonly known for its role in blood clotting. It is found in dark leafy greens and is usually easy to get from food sources in our diet. Until recently, vitamin K1 and K2 were thought to be different forms of the same vitamin. Current research has shown though that vitamin K2 performs several other key functions in the body that go beyond the blood clotting function of vitamin K1. Protecting the body from heart disease and forming strong bones are just a couple key roles vitamin K2 has been linked to. Essentially, vitamin K2 works to draw calcium to the parts of the body that need it the most, such as your teeth and your bones, and to make sure that it does not build up in places that it shouldn’t, such as your arteries. Unfortunately, vitamin K2 is not as easily found in our diets as K1. With such an important role though, it’s important to learn where it can be found in foods and in supplement form. In whole foods, vitamin K2 can be found in natto (fermented soy), cheese, egg yolk, butter, chicken liver and breast, and ground beef. For more information about vitamin K2 from food sources, please click here. It’s important to note that vitamin K2 can be further broken down into two groups: MK-4 (menaquinone-4) and MK-7 (menaquinone-7). In supplement form MK-7 is the form of vitamin K2 to look for. MK-4 is actually synthetic in supplement form and not recommended. Vitamin K3 is a also a synthetic form of vitamin K and one that is not recommended.
Since my last post discussed the importance of vitamin D, I feel the need to share with you why if you supplement with vitamin D, then you should not forget about vitamin K2. As I previously mentioned, vitamin D supplementation should be monitored by your doctor. This is important because each individual’s therapeutic dose will differ. Also, since supplemental vitamin D reacts differently in the body than the vitamin D that is produced by your body from sunlight, supplemental vitamin D can build to toxic levels in the body, if not monitored. However, this is where the importance of vitamin K2 comes into play. Vitamin K2 deficiency is what causes the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity. These symptoms include calcification that can harden the arteries. Supplementing with vitamin K2 (MK-7) is thus recommended when supplementing with vitamin D3 for this reason. I recommend reading more about this here.