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Vitamin K2: A Lesser Known but Crucial Nutrient for Bone Health

Vitamin K2 is an underrated nutrient that doesn't get as much attention as other vitamins, such as C, D, A, or B. However, if you do some research, you will be surprised to know what vitamin K2 is capable of. This powerful nutrient plays a huge role in blood clotting, preventing heart disease, and several other essential processes in the body. And most importantly, vitamin K2 is one of the best vitamins for bones, just like calcium and vitamin D.

Want to know more about how vitamin K2 in bone health supplements can transform your health? Read along to find out!

What is Vitamin K2 and how can it Improve your Health?

Natural vitamin K2 belongs to the family of K vitamins, a group of fat-soluble vitamins required by the body to produce a protein called prothrombin. It is responsible for calcium metabolism, blood clotting, and several anti-oxidant activities in the body. Vitamin K comes in two main forms:

  • Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, is produced naturally in green/dark green leafy vegetables. It is one of the most crucial sources of vitamin K.
  • Vitamin K2 includes different forms of vitamin K, which together are referred to as menaquinones. It is found in small quantities in organ meat or fermented foods. It is also produced by the gut. The vitamin is further divided into subtypes, with MK-7 and MK-4 being the most significant ones.

What does Vitamin K2 do for Bone Health?

With age, bones get weaker, leading to an increased risk of fractures and cases of disability after the age of 50. However, as not a lot of people are familiar with how K2 benefits bone health, nobody bothers to include enough of the beneficial vitamin in their diet. Research states that poor intake of vitamin K2 is linked to low bone mass, fracture risks, and even osteoporosis.

Vitamin K2 plays a central role in the metabolism of calcium. It helps the body utilize the mineral to its full potential to build strong and healthy bones instead of depositing it in the arteries or the soft tissues.

Calcifications begin in early childhood, which is why it is a good idea to consume K2-rich foods and bone health supplements. It aids in the healthy development of the cardiovascular systems in children.

How does it Work?

Vitamin K2 in the form of MK-7 is essential for the calcium-binding proteins that play a major role in maintaining healthy structure for bones and teeth, along with regulating normal cell growth.

Vitamin K2 aids calcium absorption by activating various proteins found in the body. These proteins are: -

  • Matrix Gla Protein—K2 promotes beneficial bone calcification by activating matrix Gla protein and prevents harmful blood vessel calcification.
  • Osteocalcin: This protein binds calcium ions to the bone mineral matrix, giving the bones strength.

1. Increases the Intensity of Bone

Several human trials have proven that this vitamin for bones is highly beneficial in increasing bone density and preventing fractures in older adults, even in those already suffering from osteoporosis.

Bone density is mainly influenced by two types of bone cells, namely osteoblasts, and osteoclasts. Osteoblasts build new bones, while osteoclasts break down the old ones. A healthy bone will primarily depend on the efficiency with which these two cells work. With age, you lose the balance between these cells, resulting in faster bone breaking and slower bone rebuilding. All of these lead to the development of osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Healthy consumption and intake of the K2 vitamin will help restore this balance, which will further help promote bone rebuilding while reducing destruction. And this way, you can maintain your overall bone mineral density.

2. Prevents Fractures

As you age, your bones become weaker, almost doubling the risk of fractures. One-third of women and one-fifth of men worldwide are prone to suffer from fractures after 50. But with K2 supplementation combined with calcium, the risks reduce significantly.

However, when the body doesn't get an adequate quantity of vitamins, its management of calcium is disturbed. And this leads to a phenomenon called the calcium paradox. In this phenomenon, instead of reaching the bones or where it's required, calcium starts to deposit in the arteries of the heart, where there is no need for it.

Other Unknown Health Benefits of Vitamin K2

Vitamin K1 is majorly involved in blood coagulation activities. However, K2 is involved in a diverse range of body functions and benefits, like:

1. Prevents Heart Diseases

Vitamin K prevents calcium deposition around your heart's arteries, thus preventing the risk of heart disease.

The effects of the vitamin are made possible by activating a protein known as matrix Gla protein. It is an anti-calcific protein whose inactive form is associated with severe heart-related diseases and issues like insulin resistance, arterial stiffness, and vascular and valvular calcification.

According to some studies, people who consume the most K2 are less likely to suffer from or develop artery calcification and die from heart disease.

2. Helps Improve Dental Health

Even though there haven't been a lot of studies about it, researchers have speculated on the benefits of vitamin K2 for dental health. K2 prevents several dental diseases, including crooked teeth. According to studies done to define the role of K2, it is safe to assume that this vitamin can prove to be beneficial for teeth, as it is responsible for bone metabolism.

Also, vitamin K2 works in collaboration with calcium and vitamin D, which is great for antioxidant health and helps deal with tooth decay.

How to Get the Right Amount of Vitamin K2?

Several varieties of food items are rich in K2 and provide you with enough vitamins. These foods are:

  • Cheese
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Butter
  • Egg Yolk
  • Sauerkraut
  • Natto, a fermented soybean
  • Unpasteurized kombucha

However, you can also opt for K2 or plant-based bone health supplements, especially if you are a vegan or vegetarian. As there is a clear line of connection between bone health and vitamin K2, people suffering from osteoporosis or with weak bones can also take these bone supplements. Supplements enriched with this vitamin, along with vitamin D3 and astaxanthin, help lubricate the joints, reduce inflammation, and even alleviate joint pain. However, it is always better to consult your healthcare practitioner before starting with any bone health supplements.

Wrapping Up

Vitamin K2 deficiency is widely common, but not many people know about its benefits for bones because of a lack of awareness about this vitamin. However, now that you know vitamin K2 (MK7) promotes healthy bones, teeth, and cardiovascular health and provides several other health benefits, make sure to include it in your diet.

References

Akbari S, Rasouli-Ghahroudi AA. Vitamin K and Bone Metabolism: A Review of the Latest Evidence in Preclinical Studies. Biomed Res Int. 2018 Jun 27;2018:4629383. doi: 10.1155/2018/4629383. PMID: 30050932; PMCID: PMC6040265. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6040265/

Riaz IB, Riaz H, Riaz T, Rahman S, Amir M, Badshah MB, Kazi AN. Role of vitamin K2 in preventing the recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma after curative treatment: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC Gastroenterol. 2012 Nov 29;12:170. doi: 10.1186/1471-230X-12-170. PMID: 23191943; PMCID: PMC3574058. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3574058/

Elshaikh AO, Shah L, Joy Mathew C, Lee R, Jose MT, Cancarevic I. Influence of Vitamin K on Bone Mineral Density and Osteoporosis. Cureus. 2020 Oct 5;12(10):e10816. doi: 10.7759/cureus.10816. PMID: 33173624; PMCID: PMC7645307. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7645307/

Kozioł-Kozakowska A, Maresz K. The Impact of Vitamin K2 (Menaquionones) in Children's Health and Diseases: A Review of the Literature. Children (Basel). 2022 Jan 5;9(1):78. doi: 10.3390/children9010078. PMID: 35053702; PMCID: PMC8774117. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8774117/

Florencio-Silva R, Sasso GR, Sasso-Cerri E, Simões MJ, Cerri PS. Biology of Bone Tissue: Structure, Function, and Factors That Influence Bone Cells. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:421746. doi: 10.1155/2015/421746. Epub 2015 Jul 13. PMID: 26247020; PMCID: PMC4515490. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4515490/

Maresz K. Proper Calcium Use: Vitamin K2 as a Promoter of Bone and Cardiovascular Health. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2015 Feb;14(1):34-9. PMID: 26770129; PMCID: PMC4566462. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566462/

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