The importance of combining vitamin K2 with vitamin D
Most of us are familiar with the importance of Vitamin D to our health. Unfortunately, it is not known that supplementing with, or getting an adequate amount of Vitamin K2 in the diet is also very important. The fat-soluble Vitamins D, K2 and A all work together synergistically. When we get too much of one of them, for example Vitamin D, and not enough of the others, Vitamin K2 and A, it may cause certain problems.
WHAT MAY HAPPENS IF WE TAKE TOO MUCH VITAMIN D AND NOT ENOUGH VITAMIN K2?
Vitamin D helps THE body to absorb calcium. Once calcium is absorbed, Vitamin D has no control over where the calcium ends up in the body. This is where Vitamin K2 comes into play.
Vitamin K2 triggers, or "switches on" a number of different proteins in our body. Some of these K2 activated proteins guide calcium into the bones and teeth, where calcium should be. When these calcium- guiding proteins don't their job, it is because there is no Vitamin K2 to turn them on.
This is important for two reasons; osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Vitamin D enhances the absorption of calcium into the body. However, when there is no K2 to trigger the proteins that send calcium to the bones, the calcium settles in the soft tissues. This is associated with vascular calcification, kidney stones and muscle and tendon cramps. Therefore, Vitamin K2 is proving to be very beneficial in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and kidney stones.
To explain this fairly complex, and not well understood process in simple words: Vitamin D and Vitamin K2 work together as a team. Vitamin D helps get calcium in the body, K2 "sends" it to the bones. Both nutrients are crucial and beneficial to bone health and cardiovascular health.
VITAMIN K2 IS A BETTER NUTRIENT TO STRENGTHEN BONES THAN CALCIUM
A new study has found that supplementing with calcium is not as good for us as we previously understood. Not only does supplementing with calcium have no effect on bone density, but it will increase chances of developing atherosclerosis, heart disease, and kidney stones. If strengthening our bones is our goal, supplementing with K2 is a much better option. To illustrate this, the Japanese diet is very low in calcium, but they also have a very low rate of osteoporosis because the Japanese diet includes natto, which is a fermented soybean. Natto is the richest food source of Vitamin K2.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VITAMINS K1 AND K2
Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) was discovered in the late 1920’s and was named Vitamin K after the German word koagulation, because of its critical function in blood clotting. Vitamin K1 is recycled in the body, and is abundant in green leafy vegetables. It is virtually impossible to be deficient in Vitamin K1.
Vitamin K2 (menaquinone), on the other hand has just recently begun to come into focus. Vitamin K2 is not recycled in the body and is more difficult to obtain from our diet. In fact, the majority of the population is K2 deficient.
Humans have the ability to convert K1 into K2, but the rate of conversion is quite inefficient and not enough to supply our need for K2. If our bodies made enough K2 from our K1 intake, we would find the same benefits from K1 as K2. But this is not the case.
WHAT ELSE IS VITAMIN K2 GOOD FOR?
K2 not only activates calcium directing proteins, but also activates many other health promoting proteins.
Vitamin K2 plays a strong role in the prevention of many types of cancer, including prostate, colon, liver and lung. K2 prevents cells from misbehaving, by inhibiting cells from growing wildly out of control, and not dying when they should. Those with an increased risk of cancer may want to consider increasing their Vitamin K2 intake.
K2 improves insulin sensitivity, which is important for those who have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes.
Vitamin K2 can prevent varicose veins by preventing calcium from calcifying in the veins.
Vitamin K2 can improve dental.
Vitamin K2 deficiency decreases testosterone production, whereas a higher K2 intake enhances testosterone production in the testicles.
Vitamin K may play a role in brain health and the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.
Excessively wrinkly skin is associated with low bone density in postmenopausal women. Low intake of Vitamin K2 is associated with low bone density. So, Vitamin K2 deficiency may also be associated with wrinkly skin. Improving your K2 intake may keep you looking younger. Maybe K2-rich Natto is why Japanese people’s skin seem to age slower.
FOODS RICH IN K2
Vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods and animal products. Grass-fed animal products are much higher in Vitamin K2 compared to grain-fed animal products. Unlike humans, free-range animals are excellent at converting K1 to K2. Those animals that are fed their natural food source, grass, have a much higher intake of K1 than grain-fed animals, which results in their products being a much richer source of K2.
Here is a list of foods highest in Vitamin K2:
Natto - 1,100 mcg per serving
Goose Liver - 369 mcg per serving
Hard Cheese - 76 mcg per serving (grass-fed is better)
Soft Cheese - 56 mcg per serving (again, grass-fed is better)
Free Range Egg Yolk - 32 mcg per egg
Conventional Egg Yolk - 15 mcg per egg
Butter from a Grass-Fed Cow - 15 mcg per serving
Chicken Breast or Leg - 9 mcg per serving
Sauerkraut - 4.8 mcg per serving
HOW MUCH VITAMIN K2 SHOULD BE SUPPLEMENTED?
Seeing as Vitamin D, K2 and A all work together synergistically, its logical to ensure a balanced intake of all three. Unfortunately, these vitamins have primarily been studied in isolation so no one knows the exact ratio we should be targeting. However, there seems to be a professional consensus that suggests that taking "equal amounts of A and D, with 100 mcg K2 (as MK-7), or 1,000 mcg (as MK-4) per 1,000 IU A/D. It’s also recommended supplementing children with 120 mcg per day, which is near an adult dose. They do have small bodies, but their small bodies are quickly growing.
Vitamin K2 is a very safe nutrient. There has been no toxicity level established, and is safe even at high doses.
There are two forms of Vitamin K2 you will find in supplements: MK-4 and MK-7. MK-4 is made synthetically, and has a shorter half-life than MK-7. MK-7 is made from natto. Generally speaking, the dose of MK-4 is about 10 times higher than MK-7.
You can find my favourite type of K2 here.
SOME WORDS OF CAUTION
People who are taking warfarin (Coumadin) should not take Vitamin K because this drug prevents clotting by creating a Vitamin K2 deficiency in the blood. Other blood thinners such as clopidogrel (Plavix), dabagitran (Pradaxa), prasugrel (Effient), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), aspirin or fish oil thin blood through other mechanisms not related to Vitamin K, so K2 does not have the same effect on their function.
The information contained in this article is meant as general information and is not meant to replace medical advice.
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