Benefits of vitamin K2
Vitamin K2, otherwise known as menaquinone-7 (MK-7), is a form of vitamin K found naturally in some fermented foods, produced by bacteria in the large intestine and available as a supplement.
Vitamin K plays a number of important roles in the body such as supporting bone health. It is necessary for the function of osteocalcin and matrix GLa protein, which are needed for bone formation. Osteocalcin is produced by the osteoblasts, or bone-forming cells, and is activated with the help of vitamin K. It binds to calcium, assists with its transport in the body and in turn helps regulate the role of calcium in bone development and maintenance.
Traditionally, supplements have contained vitamin K1, but research shows that vitamin K2 may have a number of advantages over its counterpart. These include:
- Improved bioavailability
- Post-menopausal bone loss – Following menopause, women are at an increased risk of bone loss and developing osteoporosis. This is because there is a significant drop in oestrogen, which has a protective effect on bones throughout a woman’s life. Supplementation of vitamin K2 has been shown to help decrease bone loss in post-menopausal women.
Who might benefit from taking a vitamin K2 supplement?
A vitamin K2 supplement may be suitable for a variety of different people, for instance:
- Anyone looking to support their bone health – Vitamin K is an often overlooked nutrient for bone health, but works synergistically with calcium and vitamin D to maintain strong, healthy bones at all life stages.
- Post-menopausal women or those approaching menopausal age – A vitamin K2 supplement may help to reduce the bone loss that occurs in postmenopausal women.
- Those looking for a more bioavailable form of vitamin K – As discussed above, vitamin K2 remains in the blood longer than vitamin K1, which in turn makes it more available to the body to support bone health.
- Those who don’t receive enough through their diet alone – Vitamin K2 is found naturally in fermented foods such as animal livers, cheese, curds and natto (fermented soybeans)1, which may be difficult to obtain from the typical Western diet.