Natural Sources of Vitamin K
Vitamin K may not be as popular and well known as other vitamins and if known at all, it’s for the important role it plays in blood clotting. However, vitamin K is also essential to building strong bones and preventing heart disease.
There are two natural forms of vitamin K. Vitamin K1 (also called phylloquinone) is plentiful in leafy green vegetables, such as kale, collards, spinach and mustard greens, so it’s easy to obtain this vitamin when following a Nutritarian diet.
Vitamin K2 (a few different substances called menaquinones), is produced by microorganisms and scarce in plant foods, so K2 is more difficult to get from a vegan diet. The human body can synthesize some K2 from K1, and intestinal bacteria can produce some K2, but these are very small amounts.
- Vitamin K2 is an important fat-soluble vitamin that plays critical roles in protecting your heart and brain, and building strong bones.
- It also plays an important role in cancer protection
- The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth.
- It also helps remove calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues
- The optimal amounts of vitamin K2 are still under investigation, but it seems likely that 180 to 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 might be enough to activate your body’s K2-dependent proteins to shuttle calcium to the proper areas
- If you take oral vitamin D, you also need to take vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries
- If you take a calcium supplement, it’s important to maintain the proper balance between calcium, vitamin K2, vitamin D, and magnesium. Lack of balance between these nutrients is why calcium supplements have become associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke
As you can see from some of the comments above, supplementation can cause problems. Just ONE more reason why DBM prefer supplementing with wholesome FOODs
Vitamin K is actually a group of fat-soluble vitamins. Of the two main ones, K1 and K2, the one receiving the most attention is K1, which is found in green leafy vegetables and is very easy to get through your diet. This lack of distinction has created a lot of confusion, and it's one of the reasons why vitamin K2 has been overlooked for so long.
The three types of vitamin K are:
- Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, is found naturally in plants, especially green vegetables; K1 goes directly to your liver and helps you maintain healthy blood clotting
- Vitamin K2, also called menaquinone, is made by the bacteria that line your gastrointestinal tract; K2 goes straight to your blood vessel walls, bones, and tissues other than your liver
- Vitamin K3, or menadione, is a synthetic form I do not recommend; it's important to note that toxicity has occurred in infants injected with this synthetic vitamin K3. It also plays a role in removing calcium from areas where it shouldn't be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues.
"K2 is really critical for keeping your bones strong and your arteries clear," Rheaume-Bleue says. Now, vitamin K2 can be broken into two additional categories, called:
- MK-4 (menaquinone-4), a short-chain form of vitamin K2 found in butter, egg yolks, and animal-based foods
- MK-7 (menaquinone-7), longer-chain forms found in fermented foods. There's a variety of these long-chain forms but the most common one is MK-7. This is the one you'll want to look for in supplements, because in a supplement form, the MK-4 products are actually synthetic. They are not derived from natural food products containing MK-4.
Vitamin K1 exclusively participates in blood clotting — that's sole purpose. K2 on the other hand comes from a whole different set of food sources, and its biological role is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. The MK-7 – these long-chain, natural bacterial-derived vitamin K2 – is from a fermentation process, which offers a number of health advantages: It stays in your body longer, and It has a longer half-life,