Vitamin K2 is a vitamin that everyone is talking about — but do you know what it is? For those of you that are unfamiliar, I will give a Coles’ notes version about this vitamin.
What is vitamin K2?
Vitamin K2 is in the vitamin K family (fat-soluble) that includes three vitamins; phylloquinones (K1), menaquinones (K2), and menadiones (K3). Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is the vitamin we know and associate with clotting and is found in many green plants , where vitamin K2 is produced by bacteria mostly. Some animals can produce vitamin K2 by converting in their body from Vitamin K1, but humans do not do this easily and normally consume animals that can do this to obtain the vitamin in its active form through them. This is also known as the food chain… vitamin K1 is converted to K2 in a chicken who eats grasses as an example, we eat those chickens, and we get the active K2.
As most of you already know, our food sources are no longer as true to the food chain (some of the smaller animals that normally eat grasses can be fed other things), and as a result we are not getting the same amount of K2 in our foods as we did previously. Foods that are high in K2 are chickens’ eggs who have been grass-fed, as well as local and organic dairy products (butter). For those of you who cannot consume dairy products, supplementation will be vital.
How and why is K2 so important for bone health?
K2 is involved in the signaling of a molecule called osteocalcin. Osteocalcin needs to be “turned on” by vitamin K2, and the presence of osteocalcin is involved in the bone uptake of calcium and calcium signaling. Bone uptake of calcium intimately involves vitamins D and A as well, and in a very fine balance. Without K2, D, and A you cannot supplement calcium and actively affect osteocalcin and improving bone health. Osteoporosis prevention, growth, teeth — K2 and its relationship to these factors is critical in calcium signaling.
The interview on K2 the bone-saving vitamin I read today could not be better timed, as I promised to update all of you on the benefits of K2. I actually heard a fabulous lecture given by Dr Kate several years ago on K2 who now has a book on this topic, and a science geek to the core, I was excited to learn more. I hope you will be also!