Vitamin K-2: It’s What We Need For Strong Bones and Heart Health

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What Is Vitamin K-2?

Vitamin K-2, also known as menaquinone, is a type of vitamin K that is found in animal products and fermented foods. Vitamin K-2 is important for the proper function of several proteins in the body, including those involved in blood clotting and bone metabolism.

Vitamin K-2 is believed to play a role in helping to prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures, particularly in postmenopausal women. Some studies have also suggested that vitamin K-2 may have a protective effect against heart disease, but more research is needed to confirm this.

Good dietary sources of vitamin K-2 include fermented foods like natto, sauerkraut, and cheese, as well as animal products like egg yolks, liver, and butter. Vitamin K-2 is also available in supplement form.

What are the Benefits of Vitamin K-2?

Here are some potential benefits of Vitamin K-2

  • Helps with blood clotting and wound healing
  • Supports bone health and reduces the risk of fractures
  • May reduce the risk of heart disease
  • May improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • May have anti-inflammatory properties and reduce the risk of chronic inflammation
  • May improve dental health by supporting tooth mineralization
  • May reduce the risk of cancer, although more research is needed to confirm this
  • May improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older adults.

Forms of Vitamin K-2

Here are the different forms or types of vitamin K-2:

  • MK-4: This is the most common form of vitamin K-2 and is found in animal products like egg yolks and butter. It has a short half-life in the body, meaning that it needs to be consumed regularly to maintain adequate levels. Benefits include supporting bone health and reducing the risk of fractures.
  • MK-7: This form of vitamin K-2 is found in fermented foods like natto and cheese. It has a longer half-life in the body compared to MK-4, which means that it can be stored and used more efficiently. Benefits include supporting bone health and reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • MK-8 and MK-9: These forms of vitamin K-2 are found in fermented foods and animal products. They have longer half-lives than MK-4 but shorter half-lives than MK-7. Benefits include supporting bone health and reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • MK-10 to MK-13: These forms of vitamin K-2 are found in smaller amounts in animal products and fermented foods. They have longer half-lives than MK-4 but their specific benefits are less well-studied.

In summary, different forms of vitamin K-2 may have different benefits and drawbacks. MK-4 is commonly found in animal products but needs to be consumed regularly to maintain adequate levels, while MK-7 has a longer half-life and may have additional benefits for heart health. More research is needed to fully understand the benefits of the less common forms of vitamin K-2.

Vitamin K in Cardiovascular Disease

Vitamin K Regulates Calcium So That It Doesn’t Cause or Worsten Cardiovascular Disease

Calcium is vital for bone health, muscle contraction, nerve signaling and other metabolic functions present in every cell of the body. Bone building represents most calcium use in the body. Since many women and men with osteoporosis don’t get enough calcium from the food, calcium supplements are recommended. But some of that increased calcium may end up incorporated into cholesterol plaques in your heart instead of in your bones.

K2 regulates calcium in the body. When K2 is deficient, calcium may be deposited in the arterial plaques causing the blood vessels to become more stiff. Stiff, non-elastic blood vessels cannot expand to deliver increased blood flow and oxygen when the body needs it (during physical activity). The heart, then, needs to work harder to pump blood through a more ridged and less flexible circulatory system. The presence of calcified plaques increases the risk of heart attack and strokes.

Vitamin K2 MK-7: The Key to Activating Two Heart Protecting Enzymes

Vitamin K is a necessary cofactor in the activation of 2 important enzymes that both help keep calcium moving into the bones rather than the cardiovascular system where it doesn’t belong.

The First is osteocalcin. Osteocalcin is a specialised enzyme that binds to calcium in the blood and transports it to our bone building cells. Bone building “osteoblast” cells produce osteocalcin proteins, but Vitamin K2 activates them. Activated osteocalcin binds calcium in the blood and transports it to the bone.

When blood osteocalcin is fully activated, the maximum amount of available calcium is used for bone building. Fully activated blood osteocalcin levels helps ensure that the maximum amount of available calcium is used for bone building. A daily K2 dose of 75–120 µg, is thought to provide adequate osteocalcin activation. *

A second important calcium-binding enzyme is Matrix GLA Protein (MPG). It is also activated by vitamin K2. PMC3816877. When activated, MGP binds excess calcium in the blood and prevents it from being deposited in arteries. [*] Studies show that low Vitamin K intake is related to high levels of non-activated MGP and lower survival rates among cardiovascular patients. PMID: 20804515 K2 has even been shown to reverse existing calcification and restore flexibility and elasticity to vessels.

Dosing for MK-7

There is no known toxicity level for Vitamin K, so it is considered very safe. A dose of 75–120 µg per day provides adequate osteocalcin activation *, but a dose of 375 µg per day has been suggested to provide more efficient osteocalcin activation and, therefore, better utilization of available calcium for building bone. [PMID: 27625301]

Food Sources of Vitamin K-2.

It’s important to note that Vitamin K-2 is not commonly found in the typical Western diet, and the best food source is natto, which is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. Hard and soft cheeses, egg yolks, and animal liver are also good sources of Vitamin K-2.

Food SourceAmount of Vitamin K-2
Natto1000 mcg per 100 g
Hard Cheeses (e.g. Gouda, Edam)76 – 81 mcg per 100 g
Soft Cheeses (e.g. Brie, Camembert)56 – 59 mcg per 100 g

Are Vitamin K2 Supplements Safe?

Vitamin K2 supplements are generally considered safe for most people when taken within the recommended dosages. Unlike vitamin K1, which is more involved in blood clotting processes, K2 mainly supports bone and cardiovascular health without significantly affecting blood clotting mechanisms.

Medication Interactions with Vitamin K2.

  • Anticoagulant medications (e.g. warfarin): Vitamin K-2 can interfere with the effectiveness of anticoagulant medications, which are used to prevent blood clots. This interaction can be serious and can increase the risk of bleeding. If you are taking an anticoagulant medication, you should talk to your healthcare provider before taking vitamin K-2 supplements.
  • Orlistat: Orlistat is a medication used for weight loss that can interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin K-2. This interaction is generally mild and can be avoided by taking vitamin K-2 supplements at a different time of day than orlistat.
  • Mineral oil: Mineral oil is a laxative that can interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin K-2. This interaction is generally mild and can be avoided by taking vitamin K-2 supplements at a different time of day than mineral oil.
  • Antibiotics (e.g. cephalosporins): Some antibiotics can interfere with the production of vitamin K-2 by gut bacteria, which can lead to a deficiency. This interaction is generally mild and can be avoided by taking a probiotic supplement or eating fermented foods to help maintain healthy gut bacteria.

Supplements Interactions With Vitamin K2

  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D can increase the absorption of calcium, which can have an impact on vitamin K-2’s role in regulating calcium in the body. Some research suggests that vitamin D and vitamin K-2 may work together to support bone health, but the optimal balance of these nutrients is still unclear.
  • Calcium supplements: Calcium supplements can interfere with the absorption of vitamin K-2, which can affect its role in regulating calcium in the body. It’s generally recommended to take calcium supplements separately from vitamin K-2 supplements to avoid any potential interactions.
  • Magnesium supplements: Magnesium is important for bone health and may work together with vitamin K-2 to support bone health. However, high doses of magnesium can interfere with the absorption of vitamin K-2, so it’s important to be mindful of your total intake of both nutrients.
  • Fish oil supplements: Some research suggests that high doses of fish oil supplements may interfere with vitamin K-2’s role in blood clotting. It’s generally recommended to stick to moderate doses of fish oil supplements and to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any new supplements.

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Vitamin K2 Products

Vitamin K is well known for its role in blood clotting, but has also been found to play an important role in normal bone formation and the preservation of bone strength.* Vitamin K2 more specifically is a significant regulator of tissue calcification and is critical for the maintenance of arterial elasticity and cardiovascular health.* Vitamin K2 includes two of the most studied subtypes, MK-7 (menaquinone-7) and MK-4 (menatetrenone). MK-7, the most readily absorbed and bioactive form of K2, has no common dietary sources.* Unlike vitamin K1, which is stored in the liver, MK-7 is transported directly to tissues and has a longer half-life than either K1 or MK-4.*
Take 1 capsule daily with a meal, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner.

Amount Per 1 Capsule Serving
Vitamin K2 … 300 mcg
(as Menaquinone-7) (MK-7) (MenaQ7®)

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

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