Chances are, probably not! Vitamin K is a very important vitamin that for some reason is widely ignored amongst health discussions. Let’s change that today!
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin found in two forms: K1 and K2. Fat-soluble means it can dissolve in fats and oils, which is why it is absorbed in the body along with fats/oils and is able to remain stored in the body’s fat stores and liver (unlike water-soluble vitamins which dissolve in water only and therefore do not get stored in the body the same way). The main dietary form of Vitamin K is K1 (phylloquinone), found mostly in green leafy vegetables (such as kale, spinach and broccoli) whereas Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is primarily of bacterial origin, present in some animal-based and fermented foods. Because Vitamin K is fat-soluble, it’s important to eat your greens with some fats (such as avocados or hemp seed oil! Learn more about hemp seed oil here.
What does Vitamin K do?
Vitamin K is primarily responsible for heart health and bone health. Specifically, the body requires vitamin K to produce a very important protein, prothrombin, which helps blood to clot. Vitamin K2 also provides both an increase in the bone-building process and a decrease in the bone-loss process making it an important component of overall bone health.
Signs of Vitamin K Deficiency
- A longer time for blood to clot (prothrombin time)- this is a special test that can only be performed in a doctor’s office
Important to note here is that the human body’s gut bacteria can produce Vitamin K. This process can be destroyed by antibiotic use, especially long-term use of antibiotics. Therefore, those who are using antibiotics long-term and suffer from a poor appetite may be at risk for deficiency and therefore should speak to their doctor/pharmacist about Vitamin K supplementation.
What the Research Says
There has been a lot of research into the health benefits of Vitamin K2, specifically. This may be because studies have shown that vitamin K2 has a more powerful effect on bone health compared to vitamin K1. In terms of bone health, it has been shown that menaquinone-7 (the predominant form of vitamin K2) stimulates something called osteoblastogenesis (meaning the production of osteoblasts, cells that make bone) and decreases something called osteoclastogenesis (meaning the production of osteoclasts, cells that degrade bone). It has also been shown that the combination of vitamins K and D can significantly increase the total Bone Mineral Density (a measure of how strong your bones are), with a better effect when K2 is used. Another study on postmenopausal women with osteoporosis had similar conclusions, stating that the combined use of vitamins D3 and K2 were useful in increasing Bone Mineral Density in the lumbar spine (in fact, this study found the combination even more protective than vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and calcium supplements alone!). Yet another study (published in October of 2020) suggests that vitamin K2 supplementation may improve bone quality and reduce fracture risk is patients with osteoporosis, potentially even increasing the effectiveness of calcium and vitamin D supplementation.
There is also some research to suggest the important role that K2 plays in heart health. For example, a 2009 study on middle aged men and women found that a higher intake of vitamin K2 was linked with a lower risk of coronary heart disease (whereas there was no association found between K1 and coronary heart disease). Another interesting feature to note about K2 is the protective effect against calcium deposits in the arterial walls. It is widely accepted and beneficial to take calcium in order to promote bone health and prevent osteoporosis. An unfortunate risk of this, however, is that elevated consumption of calcium may increase the risk for heart disease due to the deposit of said calcium into the blood vessels. Vitamin K2 has been found to inhibit this arterial calcification and stiffening. Therefore, an increase intake of vitamin K2 could mean lowering these (sometimes necessary) health risks of calcium supplementation.
Remember- ALWAYS speak to your health care provider to determine your specific benefit and risk analysis before starting or stopping any supplementation! Especially if you are on other medications, such as blood thinners.
Dr. D’s Vitamin D3 plus K2
Because of all the research behind K2, and the combined protective effects of vitamins D and K, we chose to pair the two, vitamins D3 and K2 (menaquinone-7) in our first vitamin supplement. Vitamin D is a vital contributor to overall health. Please see our blog on Vitamin D for more information.
What is so special about this supplement is that it made with Polyshield Technology™- the first of its kind, GLOBALLY. Polyshield Technology™ stems from the pomegranate peel, which research shows is packed with polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that exist in certain plant-based foods and contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. There are many scientific studies demonstrating the health benefits of pomegranate extracts including antibacterial, antiviral, blood lipid lowering and anti-inflammatory properties. The peel accounts for roughly 60% of the pomegranate fruit, and possesses more antioxidant activity than its seeds, juice and pulp.
Polyphenols extracted from the pomegranate peel are used in this shielding technology to protect the vitamins and minerals. The shield formed protects the core molecules and reduces interaction with the enzymatic reactions involved in metabolism. Due to its optimal stability, the shield allows its nutrients to remain protected as they travel through something called First-Pass metabolism, which is breakdown by the liver.
National Institutes of Health- Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin K fact sheet for health professionals. 2021.
Harvard School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source: Vitamin K. 2021.
Sato, T., Inaba, N., & Yamashita, T. (2020). MK-7 and Its Effects on Bone Quality and Strength. Nutrients, 12(4), 965.
Maresz K. (2015). Proper Calcium Use: Vitamin K2 as a Promoter of Bone and Cardiovascular Health. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), 14(1), 34–39.
Beuluns, J. Booth, S., Van den Heuvel, E., Stoecklin, E., Baka, A., & Vermeer, C. (2013). The role of menaquinones (vitamin K2) in human health. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(8), 1357-1368.
Iwamoto J, Takeda T, Ichimura S. Effect of combined administration of vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 on bone mineral density of the lumbar spine in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. J Orthop Sci. 2000;5(6):546-51. doi: 10.1007/s007760070003. PMID: 11180916.
Huang X, Liu C, Guo X, Li K, Deng Q, Li D. The combination effect of vitamin K and vitamin D on human bone quality: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Food Funct. 2020 Apr 30;11(4):3280-3297. doi: 10.1039/c9fo03063h. PMID: 32219282.
Capozzi A, Scambia G, Lello S. Calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, and magnesium supplementation and skeletal health. Maturitas. 2020 Oct;140:55-63. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2020.0
Plaza SM, Lamson DW. Vitamin K2 in bone metabolism and osteoporosis. Altern Med Rev. 2005 Mar;10(1):24-35. PMID: 15771560.
Haugsgjerd TR, Egeland GM, Nygård OK, et al Association of dietary vitamin K and risk of coronary heart disease in middle-age adults: the Hordaland Health Study Cohort BMJ Open 2020;10:e035953. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-035953