I’m often intrigued by why we designate specific names to things, so I thought it was fascinating to learn that Vitamin K was named because of its role in blood clotting and was uncovered in Germany. Coagulation in German is Koagulation.
Similar to Vitamin D or B, Vitamin K is not a single entity. Vitamin K is not homogenous; rather, it is an umbrella term used to describe a group of analogous molecules. Two variants of Vitamin K that are found in nature are Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2. Synthetically produced Vitamin K can come in the forms K3, K4, and K5. We only mention these here for completeness. Vitamin K3 was taken off the shelves because it could be hazardous if used in large quantities.
We will investigate both Vitamin K1 and K2 and decide if either is beneficial to add to a supplement regimen.
Phylloquinone, commonly known as Vitamin K1, can be a complicated concept due to its chemical designation. My eyes start to cross, attempting to spell it. Vitamin K1 can be sourced in plants, particularly in leafy vegetables, since it is necessary for photosynthesis.
Vitamin K1 is the most common type of Vitamin K found in foods, existing in a ratio of 10:1 compared to Vitamin K2. It is important to be aware that being supplied with Vitamin K from dietary sources is tough, as the Vitamin is strongly linked to chloroplasts (which are utilized during photosynthesis). I will continue to remind everyone of this fact as much as I can.
Supplementary Vitamin K is readily taken up in its liberated form. The National Institutes of Health reference a research effort that compared the uptake of Vitamin K from spinach to that of a tablet. Studies showed that when equivalent doses of spinach were consumed, only about 4 to 17 percent of it was absorbed. That’s a pretty low number and a big range. When Vitamin K1 is taken as a supplement, it is absorbed by the body in more than 80% of cases.
No specific guidelines for Vitamin K consumption have been established due to an absence of data. Instead, an Adequate Intake level has been established.
Based on the guidelines, a majority of people who are reading this should have an intake of 90 micrograms or more of something each day.
The recommended amounts suggested by Adequate Intake levels are considered to be small amounts to fulfill one’s essential needs. It is plausible that individuals gain a slight edge. I do not suggest huge amounts, but it is possible minimum levels of these figures are desirable.
Second, absorption from food is low and erratic. Rather than just having one helping of Vitamin K-rich foods, it’s wise to have many varied servings so that you can be certain of obtaining your daily Vitamin K needs. This is due to the fact that it is hard to absorb Vitamin K from food sources.
A significant amount of us is not consuming a sufficient amount of Vitamin K, which can cause health problems in parts of our body that rely on this nutrient.
If we estimate that 10% of Vitamin K can be taken in from food, we need to consume more than nine hundred micrograms of kale, spinach, collards, etc., etc. This is a very large amount of the said vegetables, especially for those of us who do not typically include them in our diets on a regular basis. Taking a vitamin K supplement, either on its own or as part of a multivitamin, may be recommended if one does not consume a lot of dark, leafy vegetables in their diet.
Foods That Have Vitamin K1
Phylloquinone, also known as Vitamin K1, is a component that can be found in any plant that utilizes photosynthesis. Green, leafy vegetables contain the highest known phylloquinone concentrations. Vitamin K1 food sources include:
- Swiss Chard
- Brussel sprouts
Generally, the amount of phylloquinone contained in plants with dark foliage is larger than those with lighter leaves (e.g. iceberg lettuce).
Plant oils are also a good source of Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone):
- Canola or rapeseed.
Furthermore, various spreads and dressings made out of soybean, canola, cottonseed, and olive are tremendous nutrition-wise, containing phylloquinone.
Dr. Sarah Booth, the director of the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, has conducted a thorough report on the top sources of Vitamin K1.
Vitamin K2 is called menaquinone. Almost all Vitamin K2 is created by bacteria changing Vitamin K1 into it. Vitamin K2 is mainly found in animal-based foods such as eggs, dairy, and meat or in fermented foods like cheese or yogurt. The only issue is that the amount of Vitamin K2 in these foods is minimal in comparison to the Vitamin K1 content of more regular foods.
Vitamin K2 is not a solitary substance but comprises various elements. You may have encountered these in conversation… MK-4 and MK-7 are two varieties. This type of Vitamin K is represented by the notation MK-n, with the letter M stands for menaquinone, K for Vitamin K, and n indicating the length of the molecule’s “tail.” The bigger the figure, the longer the extension and the bigger the molecule.
Vitamin K2 is found in a variety of forms, ranging from MK-2 up to MK-13. The primary focus of our research is on the MK-4 and MK-7 varieties, as they possess the most substantial body of evidence backing their use.
MK-4 stands out due to its ability to be produced by various nonbacterial organisms. Microorganisms are the ones who are responsible for transforming MK-4 and smaller into bigger MK-5 and greater molecules. Microbes present in the intestines help to metabolize Vitamin K1 into Vitamin K2, and those taking high doses of antibiotics can be lacking in Vitamin K. Therefore, it is essential to utilize a high-quality probiotic!
Vitamin K2 is present in food items. However, the quantity is limited. Natto, a fermented soybean dish from Japan, is the only source of a significant amount of Vitamin K2.
Are some types of Vitamin K2 superior to other forms of K2? Results from various studies indicate that MK-4 is beneficial for certain purposes, while MK-7 appears to be beneficial for different applications. It is unclear which is more favorable between the two options as there is not sufficient proof. If you decide to pick either MK-4 or MK-7 as opposed to any of the other forms of Vitamin K2, you will be in an excellent position. I choose MK-7 as it has an extended half-life, meaning its effects remain in the body for a longer period of time.
Foods High in Vitamin K2
Vitamin K1 is typically sourced from plants, whereas Vitamin K2 is mainly generated by bacteria.
Vitamin K2 MK-4 Food Sources
The MK-4 form of Vitamin K2 principally comes from grass-fed animals and can be found in:
- Dairy products such as milk.
- Egg yolks.
Animals such as cows, pigs, and chickens that consume plant food contain Vitamin K1, which is then turned into MK-4 Vitamin K2 in their digestive tract. It is essential to recognize that humans are not able to transform K1 to K2 as proficiently as plant-munching animals, despite the fact that they can perform the conversion in their intestines.
If you’d rather get your Vitamin K2 from animal-based sources, you’ll have to take their product. It appears improbable that the bacteria present in your intestines will produce enough MK-4 to supply your bones with the vitamins they require.
A few more points about MK-4:
- The half-life of MK-4 is substantially less than that of its family member, MK-7, and as a result, it will stay in your body for a shorter time.
- Because of its short duration, you will likely have to take three daily doses of MK-4. One dose is adequate for MK-7.
- The MK-4 you will find in dietary supplements is likely synthetic, whereas the MK-4 found is food is produced naturally by nature.
Vitamin K1 vs Vitamin K2
Although both Vitamin K1 and K2 are types of fat-soluble vitamins, they have some distinct distinctions.
It is not easy to comprehend the subject of Vitamin K. A complicating factor is that Vitamin K comes in two distinct groups: Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2.
Vitamin K1 is referred to as phylloquinone due to its single-particle structure. Most of this can be sourced from leafy green vegetables. Vitamin K1 is made up of one single element and is involved in the process of blood coagulation.
The broader Vitamin K2 family encompasses a few sub-categories, such as MK-4, MK-7, and MK-9.
Animal foods and fermented products are the chief sources of Vitamin K2. The subsequent portion of this post will go into greater detail on the topic. Menaquinone, commonly referred to as Vitamin K2, is a collection of fats-soluble vitamins that are vital for human health. These compounds are labeled by their number.
A significant consideration is only given to the MK-4 and the MK-7 out of the aggregate. Both are common supplements.
Does Vitamin K2 Help Bone Health?
I previously mentioned that Vitamin K2 plays a role in the metabolic process of calcium by initiating the binding of the mineral to particular proteins, which is done via the carboxylation of osteocalcin. Researchers have demonstrated that Vitamin K2 can be beneficial for bone health, but the proof is not definitive.
Vitamin K2 Helps with Osteoporosis
Numerous investigations affirm Vitamin K2’s significance in ameliorating bone health. Research conducted by the Netherlands over a period of three years explored the effects of small doses of MK-7 (180 μg MK-7/day capsules) on the bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) of the lower back, total hip, and femoral neck. The scientists on the research team also gauged the strength of the bone at the femoral neck.
The recommended dosage per day is 180 micrograms. This amount should be considered equivalent to 0.18 milligrams per day.
The research suggested that taking Vitamin K2 may impede the deterioration of both bone mineral content and bone mineral density in areas that are mainly made up of trabecular bone, such as the spine and the femoral neck. Research demonstrated a strengthening of the bone structure in the femoral neck and a reduced decrease in height in the lower thoracic vertebrae.
Vitamin K2 Has no Effect on Bone Density
Numerous investigations have called into question the effectiveness of Vitamin K2 in improving bone well-being. The analysis of Vitamin K and bone health discovered that no differences in transformations to bone mineral solidness were found at each of the areas gauged in the two gatherings (control and study).
An analysis in a different work found no change in either the lumbar spine, proximal femur bone mineral density, or proximal femur geometry after taking phylloquinone or MK4. The researchers asserted that taking extra Vitamin K did not appear to help with the avoidance of osteoporosis in healthy postmenopausal North American women who were taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.
How Should You Take Vitamin K?
When you have a meal high in fat, the uptake of the Vitamin K family is significantly boosted. This is a significant factor that can greatly enhance absorption. Another important point is discussed below.
Vitamin K and Other Vitamins/Supplements
Vitamin K is one of four fat-soluble vitamins. The other vitamins that can be absorbed and stored in the body’s fatty tissue are A, D, and E. Fat-soluble vitamins are not able to be taken in through the stomach lining. The absorption takes place in the intestines.
A 2015 study on mice examined whether the intake of multiple fat-soluble vitamins concurrently would either enhance or reduce the absorption of the other vitamins. The research revealed an intense rivalry concerning the absorption of Vitamin D, E, A, and K. Vitamin A was the lone fat-soluble vitamin that didn’t appear to be diminished when consumed with Vitamin E.
Consumer Lab suggests that in order to get the most out of Vitamin K, you should consume it at least three hours away from other fat-soluble Vitamins such as A, E, and D. Hear my conversation with Dr. Tod Cooperman, CEO of ConsumerLab, about Calcium Supplements for Osteoporosis to gain more knowledge about it.
Strip Away The Hype, And You Still Are Alright
Don’t believe the hype around Vitamin K and osteoporosis. The amount of dosage obtained from vitamins and minerals is much lower than the amount which have been demonstrated to have an effect on bone strength and the reduction of broken bones. Ingesting Vitamin K may contribute to bettering markers of bone health, even in the instance of someone suffering from osteoporosis, but it is not known to mend weakened bones.
Take away all the unsubstantiated claims; Vitamin K is still advantageous and should be part of your regular routine. We constantly emphasize the importance of eating foods high in Vitamin K as part of our Vital 5 recommendations.
The natural products sector depends on customers being aware of the weak correlations between nutrients and illness. The misconception lines their pocket at your expense.
Fortunately, you have the assistance of a loquacious pharmacist aiding you during this process.
Just trying to keep it real.