Want to keep your bones, teeth and arteries healthy? Make sure you get to know vitamin K2. Unlike its more famous (for now) cousin vitamin K1, whose sole purpose is its very essential role in blood clotting, vitamin K2 is an important fat-soluble vitamin that plays critical roles in protecting your heart and brain, building strong bones, optimizing sexual function, and preventing cancer.
Fast Fact: Vitamin K2 works synergistically with calcium and Vitamin D.
Why You Need It: Vitamin K2 acts like a traffic cop, directing calcium towards your bones, making them stronger, and your teeth to help prevent cavities and away from where it doesn’t belong, such as your kidneys (where it could lead to kidney stones) or your blood vessels (where it could trigger heart disease). It also activates MGP, a potent inhibitor of arterial calcification that relies on vitamin K to perform its dominant role in reducing coronary artery calcification.
The 10-year population-based Rotterdam study, which followed over 4,800 initially healthy men and women over 55 years old at the start, showed that eating foods rich in natural Vitamin K2 (at least 32 mcg/day) results in a 50% reduction of arterial calcification, a 50% reduction in cardiovascular risk, and a 25% reduction of all-cause mortality. A later study, which followed 16,000 individuals from the Prospect-EPIC cohort population, confirmed these findings. These researchers found that for every 10 mcg of Vitamin K2 consumed, the risk of coronary heart disease was reduced by 9%.
Where to Get It: Top sources are natto (made from fermented soybeans), fermented vegetables including sauerkraut, Gouda cheese and Brie. Other K2-rich cheeses are: Edam, Cheddar, Colby, hard goat cheese, Swiss and Gruyere. Pastured eggs (yolks), butter from grass-fed cows, free-range chicken (breast and legs) are also good sources. Your own healthy digestive system can make K2, using K1, which is found in kale, spinach, mustard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and other leafy greens.
Supplement Suggestions: Make sure your vitamin K2 supplement is in the MK-7 form. Remember to take vitamin K with some healthy fat, so your body can absorb it. K2 supplementation is very important if you take oral calcium or a vitamin D supplement.
Need to Know: Having sufficient vitamin K2 is essential for keeping your bones strong and your arteries clear.