Vitamin K2: The Overlooked Vitamin

Fortunately, vitamin K2 can play an active role in how the body utilizes calcium in a healthy way. In a nutshell, vitamin K2 helps the body put calcium where it should be (in the bones) and away from where it should not be (the joints and the blood vessels). For this reason, vitamin K2 appears to play an important role in preventing heart disease which is characterized by calcium plaques in the blood vessels.  Other research shows that it lowers cancer rates and helps with maintaining blood sugar levels.

Vitamin K2 works synergistically with vitamin D. As my patients know, I recommend supplementing with Vitamin D (8000 IU/day) because most of us are deficient in it due to our not being out in the sun enough. Vitamin D, actually technically a hormone rather than a vitamin, has numerous beneficial effects in the body. One of which is to help the body up take calcium. Utilizing vitamin K2 allows the body to put the calcium where it should be – in the bones. Research coming out is showing that supplementing with vitamin K helps stop bone loss and may even increase bone density in those with osteoporosis.

Several important points must be addressed. Vitamin K2 works very different in the body then K1. K1 tends to aid in blood clotting. Although the body can convert K1 to K2, the process is very inefficient. For this reason, I recommend supplementing with K2. The ideal amounts are still being determined, but they seem to be in the range of 150-200mcg.

Because vitamin K2 is a fat soluble vitamin, it should be taken with food. Fortunately, even though it is fat soluble, there is no evidence that one is likely to take too much. Nevertheless the recommended amounts should be plenty.

Natural sources of vitamin K2 include Natto (fermented soy) and certain cheeses such as Gouda and Brie.  Although, I recommend against eating soy, it is quite healthy in a fermented form.  However, many do not care for its strong taste. It is also important to note that while K1 is found is dark leafy vegetables, K2 is not.