Why do your bones and teeth need vitamin K2?
What is vitamin K2?
Most people are less aware of vitamin K2. However, this powerful nutrient plays an essential role in many aspects of your health.
Vitamin K was discovered in 1929 as an essential nutrient for blood clotting. The finding was originally reported in a German scientific journal. At this time it was called "Koagulationsvitamin" - the name that started the word "K". Scientist Weston Price traveled the world in the early 20th century, studying the relationship between diet and diseases in different populations. In this journey, he discovered the vitamin K.
Weston discovered that natural diets provided large amounts of a "mysterious" nutrient that protects human against cavities and some chronic diseases. At that time, he called the nutrient "activator X", which is currently believed to be vitamin K2.
There are two main types of vitamin K:
- Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone): Found in foods of plant origin such as green leafy vegetables.
- Vitamin K2 (menaquinone): Found in fermented foods and foods derived from animals.
In particular, vitamin K2 can be divided into several groups, and the most important ones are MK-4 and MK-7.
How do vitamin K1 and K2 work?
Vitamin K activates proteins that play a role in the clotting process, helps metabolize calcium and improve cardiovascular health. One of its most important functions is to regulate calcium buildup. In other words, vitamin K promotes the calcification of the bones. At the same time, it also prevents calcifications on the walls of blood vessels and kidneys.
Some scientists say the roles of vitamin K1 and K2 are different. They argue that these vitamins should be classified as two separate types of nutrition. The idea has been developed from a study which proves that vitamin K2 (MK-4) reduces blood vessel calcification while vitamin K1 does not.
Vitamin K2 can improve bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. As mentioned above, it plays a central role in the metabolism of calcium - the main mineral found in your bones and teeth. Vitamin K2 activates calcium-binding activities of two proteins - matrix GLA and osteocalcin, which help build and maintain bone health.
Researchers also speculate that vitamin K2 may affect oral health. One of the major regulators in oral health is osteocalcin. This is an important nutrient for bone metabolism, which is triggered by vitamin K. Osteocalcin stimulates the growth of teeth, particularly the calcified tissue underneath your enamel.
Vitamins A and D are also said to play an important role when they are combined with vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 sources for your body
Vitamin K1 can be found in many common food sources, while vitamin K2 is quite rare. Our body can convert part of vitamin K1 into K2. This is somehow helpful because the amount of vitamin K1 in a typical diet is 10 times higher than vitamin K2. However, this process has been shown to be ineffective. So you should take vitamin K2 directly.
Vitamin K2 is found mainly in some animal source foods and fermented foods, including high-fat dairy products, grass-fed beef, egg yolk, as well as liver and other organs of animals. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient, so low-fat or fat-free animal foods will not contain much vitamin K.
Animal source foods often contain MK-4, while fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, natto… contain a variety of vitamin K2, from MK-5 to MK- 14.
By: Mithrine Smith