Everything you need to know about vitamin K2 and its importance
Everyone talks about vitamin C, vitamin D, but only a few are mindful of vitamin K and its importance to our health. Vitamin K is essential for the body but is massively underestimated.
Learn the truth about vitamins K1 and K2, the functions of this vitamin and why it was never talked about in the past. You will also get to know why Vitamin K2 is the only active form of Vitamin K to watch out for.
Vitamin K2 – It starts with Weston A. Price and the mysterious “Factor X”
About 100 years ago, a dentist named Dr. Weston Price was disturbed by the serious health problems in Western civilization. So he decided to travel and mingle among the last remaining indigenous people on earth.
What he saw there left him speechless. The native people who still lived naturally, moved around a lot in nature, in the fresh air and were exposed often to the sun, were surprisingly much healthier than people living in the West.
Weston Price saw that the indigenous peoples had strong bones, teeth and jaws; no caries/cavity! Plus, they had stable joints even though they barely ate dairy products.
He analyzed their nutrition, their way of life and concluded that there was a so-called “factor X” in their diet that helped them to have strong bones even without milk.
Price sensed that this factor X should be contained in animal products from animals that still lived in a species-appropriate and natural way. And that this factor X does not appear in our factory farming meat.
Of course, he was laughed at for this factor X, but now, 100 years later, we know that it is actually vitamin K.
Stimulating the metabolism, eating our modern diet is very different from that of our ancestors; vitamin K2 is also less common.
Vitamin K2 – Functions in the body
Let us first come to the duties of vitamin K2 in the human body. How important is it really?
Vitamin K stands out from the range of vitamins (A to E) because of its name. In fact, the K stands for coagulation and describes the first important function of vitamin K:
If a blood vessel in the body is injured, it must be repaired again. In the event of a wound, vitamin K uses a coagulation cascade so that the blood clots around the wound and the wound closes. The blood platelets help with this process. Those who lack vitamin K face an increased risk of internal and external bleeding and considerable blood loss.
The hereditary disease hemophilia is related to blood clotting, which is why those affected run the risk of bleeding to death even with small to moderate cuts.
As you may know from my previous article about vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D is involved in the absorption of calcium from the diet, or, if there is too little calcium in the diet, from the bones. As a rule, however, the calcium from the food is sufficient so that vitamin D absorbs the calcium from the food into the blood.
However, in order to be able to store the calcium in the bones, vitamin K2 is required. It activates an enzyme called gamma-glutamyl carboxylase, which binds the calcium, builds it into the bone and activates cells that carry out this bone build-up (osteoblasts).
That signifies not enough K2, no really strong bones! This is the reason why primitive people have such strong bones. They are enough in the sun and are guaranteed not to have a vitamin D deficiency. Also, the animals they consume naturally contain enough vitamin K. If the body is supported with all the building blocks it needs, it also delivers. In this case, strong bones.
Unfortunately, this is no longer the case with us today, because almost everyone suffers from vitamin D deficiency and a similar number from vitamin K deficiency.
Vitamin K2 is important for the formation of sex hormones, especially to increase testosterone, both in males and females. Yes, dear ladies, we also have some testosterone in our blood that needs vitamin K2. No K2 means impaired sex hormone production.
With vascular calcification and arteriosclerosis, a mixture of calcium, fat and cholesterol is deposited on the vessel walls. What has the calcium to do here? You know that vitamin D absorbs calcium into the blood, but if there is a vitamin K deficiency, the calcium cannot be distributed from the blood. This results in an increased risk of arteriosclerosis and vascular calcification.
Enough vitamin K can counteract this and has a preventive effect against vascular calcification.
We now know that vitamin K deficiency leads to poor insulin sensitivity. That means the body responds less well to insulin. This has something to do with the bones, but it is now also known that vitamin K is an important transmitter of electrons, also in the mitochondria. Not only plants need vitamin K for the electrons, but we do too. And that seems to have an impact on insulin sensitivity.
Note: Mitochondria are small power plants in your body cells. They produce the energy that we need for everyday processes such as thinking, feeling and moving.
Like vitamin D, vitamin K is an essential growth factor for many cells in the body. And I don’t just mean bone-building cells like osteoblasts, but e.g. also cells that produce sex hormones, nerve cells and muscle cells.
In many places in the body, most of which we do not yet know, vitamin K is required to activate biochemical signaling pathways in the cell. A sufficient vitamin K2 level is, therefore, imperative here.
I could praise Vitamin K for a while longer, but let’s leave it at that. Are you worried about a vitamin K deficiency? Let’s talk about it.
Vitamin K deficiency – Is it common?
Unfortunately, I do not know that for sure. Recent studies uncovered all possible nutrients and nutrient deficiencies, including the terrifying result of a 35% vitamin D deficiency in America. But vitamin K was not part of the consumption study, so no one knows how common vitamin K deficiency is in the population.
They openly say that Vitamin K is very seldom in adults, but I personally expect a vitamin K to be somewhat more present. Why do I say this? Because a vitamin K deficiency occurs very often in people with gastrointestinal issues.
These conditions range from mild food intolerances to more severe ailments, such as IBS. 50 million Americans suffer from lactose intolerance, which promotes vitamin K deficiency. Liver diseases also trigger a lack of K vitamin.
I, furthermore, come to this conclusion because cardiovascular diseases are so common and vitamin K2 foods are not so popular in the average population:
Vitamin K2 – What forms exists and where to encounter it?
We differentiate between vitamin K1 and vitamin K2:
Vitamin K1 – Phylloquinone
Vitamin K1 can be found in every green plant because it works in every plant cell that generates or uses energy. There it has the function of an electron carrier. The greener a plant, the more vitamin K it contains.
Therefore, the following plants are the best sources of vitamins K1 and K2:
Kale, broccoli, spinach, chard, lamb’s lettuce, purslane, chives, parsley, nettle, dandelion and wheatgrass.
Superfood smoothies work too. Particular oils and healthy fats also contain some vitamin K, but this is not relevant because it does not offer as much as the types of lettuce and vegetables mentioned above.
Unfortunately, vitamin K1 is clearly inferior to K2 in terms of effects. It is similar to food with omega-3 fatty acids: animal omega-3 fatty acids are significantly more valuable to the body than plant-based ones. So, vitamin K should preferably come from animal sources.
Animal K2 (menaquinone) is significantly more valuable to the body than vitamin K1. Vitamin K1 also contributes to blood clotting and a few other functions but is significantly more inefficient than vitamin K2.
This is why I think vitamin K1 should actually be removed from this vitamin equation and solely K2 should be left there. Simply to avoid confusion. For example, 100 g of kale contains many times the recommended daily dose of vitamin K, but it is “only” vitamin K1. It does not work as well as animal K2 and should, therefore, not be rated as high and valuable.
What does that mean to you? Of course, continue to eat lots of vegetables and greens, because that’s very important. However, when it comes to vitamin K, watch out for animal K2.
Vitamin K2 – Menaquinone
Strictly speaking, animals do not produce vitamin K2, but bacteria does. From microorganisms of the species E. coli, Bacteroides and Bacillus.
Because in bacteria, as in plants, vitamin K2 is an electron carrier. And, as has now been confirmed, also in human cells.
Bacteria use the same vitamin K as we do, so the sources of vitamin K are the most valuable, where the vitamin K is of bacterial and non-vegetable origin.
I should, in particular, mention ruminants here. Ruminants have developed an incredibly efficient system with ruminal (rumen) bacteria.
The bacteria provide a wide range of nutrients and vitamins for them, including vitamin K. Naturally, ruminants absorb vitamin K, use it in the body and store it.
If you now eat a steak, the steak contains vitamin K. Animal vitamin K2, which was actually produced by the bacteria. And here comes the important part: The ruminants or animals must be kept in a species-appropriate manner, i.e. must be given grass to eat.
The grass contains vitamin K1 (vegetable), and the bacteria then transform vitamin K1 into the more valuable vitamin K2. Btw, wheatgrass contains lots of essential nutrients, and amongst all of them also a good dose of vitamin K.
This is also the reason why we can only find vitamin K2 in organic animal products. Meat or other animal products from factory farming contain hardly any significant amounts, because these animals do not eat grass, but soy, corn and other starch feed, which contains little vitamin K1.
The best vitamin K2 foods are:
Natto (1000 µg / 100 g)
Farm-raised meat (15 µg / 100 g)
Free-range eggs (160 µg / 100 g)
Organic milk products (50 µg / 100 g)
Vegetable-based probiotic foods (content varies widely, depending on the source:
Sauerkraut (up to 80 µg / 100 g)
Kimchi (up to 44 µg / 100 g))
Kombucha also contains some K2 vitamins. However, I cannot stipulate an exact amount as opinions here differ.
Organic farming is incredibly important here because it allows relevant amounts of vitamin K2.
Incidentally, the world’s best vitamin K2 food is natto – through the Bacillus subtilis fermented soybeans. A tablespoon of Natto covers the weekly vitamin K2 requirement, but there is one disadvantage: Natto tastes not so appealing for everyone.
Why nobody used to talk about vitamin K
The most important vitamin K2 foods are organic animal products and fermented foods. Both are food groups that were widespread until 100 years ago.
At that time there was no factory farming, which is a phenomenon that has only developed over the past 100 years (especially since antibiotics have been available).
Until about 100 years ago, probiotic foods were much more common than today. At that time, it was mandatory to make food more durable because there were no refrigerators and not everyone had a cool basement.
Yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers – everyone used to prepare this themselves and thus always covered their basic needs for K2 without any problems.
How important is real sauerkraut, kombucha or organic meat today? Unfortunately, all of these vitamin K2 foods tend to be niche products.
Vitamin K2 – Meet the occurrence and daily requirement
The next logical question is how much vitamin K2 from which animal foods is needed to meet the daily requirement. Here we come to the problem of daily needs:
The daily recommendation for vitamin K given is just enough; 164 mcg for women, and 182 mcg for men. This supplies the body just enough to activate blood clotting.
In addition, the FDA does not differentiate between vitamin K1 and K2. In fact, the body needs around 200-300 µg of vitamin K daily, preferably in the form of K2.
Another problem that affects daily needs is that every animal product contains different amounts of vitamin K2.
The meat or butter of two cows that stand on neighboring pastures can have a significantly different vitamin K2 content.
That’s why there are only very, very rough vitamin K2 values for various foods. The menaquinone content is too varied and, therefore, cannot be generalized.
In my opinion, vitamin K2 and vitamin D are the most sensible dietary supplements, because almost everyone is affected by a deficiency of these vitamins and the effects in the body can be clearly felt after a short time.
Even very pronounced. There are few supplements that I recommend to almost everyone. The combination of vitamin D + K2 is one of them.
What should you look for in a good vitamin K2 product?
What you should pay attention to when supplementing vitamin K2 is the dosage, the production and the manufacturer: Can he guarantee that the product is of the highest quality?
There are now many low-cost providers on the Internet, not all of which are fully transparent and with whom you cannot always be sure whether it also contains what is on the packaging.
I highly recommend dietary supplementation with vitamin K2, as this achieves the best results in the long run. You don’t have to worry about side effects, just as you don’t have to worry about high costs. In addition, a pack usually lasts for a very long time.
What I can also recommend: Combine K2 with vitamin D and magnesium. These three nutrients work together in the body and complement each other ideally.
There is a very good combination product for vitamin D3 + K2, which I would like to recommend to you:
Now that we have covered the topic of vitamin K and its importance, I hope that you will keep an extra eye on a healthy diet.
Eat lots of leafy greens, fruit, good protein sources such as organic eggs. Don’t forget about your omega 3 and consume fish from wild catch, linseed and probiotic foods. This is how you cover the widest range of nutrients.
Let me know your experience with vitamin K, and how you keep your daily supply up to date?
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