Vitamin K2 | Benefits, function and deficiency problems

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Vitamin K2 Benefits function and deficiency problems

The role of vitamin K2 is not yet fully understood, but research suggests that a nutrient deficiency of this vitamin can have far-reaching consequences for your health.

An study revealed that having a higher intake of vitamin K2 can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent. The authors note that the benefits of vitamin K2 were more pronounced for advanced prostate cancer and, more importantly, that vitamin K1 offered no benefits for the prostate.

What are the benefits of vitamin K2?

Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the health benefits of vitamin K2. Vitamins K have been underappreciated and misunderstood until very recently in both the scientific community and the general public.

It is commonly believed that the benefits of vitamin K are limited to its role in blood clotting. Another popular misconception is that vitamins K1 and K2 are simply different forms of the same vitamin, with the same physiological functions.

However, new evidence has confirmed that vitamin K2’s role in the body extends far beyond blood clotting. You can help prevent chronic disease by:

  • Prevent cardiovascular diseases.
  • Maintain healthy skin.
  • Build strong bones and improve bone health.
  • Promote brain function.
  • Support growth and development.
  • Help prevent cancer.

What is your function?

Vitamin K2 has so many functions not associated with K1 that many researchers insist that K1 and K2 can be considered two completely different vitamins.

Differences between vitamins K1 and K2

An epidemiological study conducted in the Netherlands illustrates this point well. The researchers collected data on the participants’ vitamin K intake between 1990 and 1993. They measured the presence of heart disease in each subject, who had died from it, and how this was related to K2 intake and arterial calcification.

They found that calcification of the arteries was the best predictor of heart disease. Those in the highest third of K2 intakes were:

  • 52 percent less likely to develop severe calcification of the arteries.
  • 41 percent less likely to develop heart disease.
  • They were 57 percent less likely to die from it.

However, taking vitamin K1 had no effect on the heart health of the participants.

While the liver preferentially uses vitamin K1 to activate blood-clotting proteins, other tissues preferentially use vitamin K2 to deposit calcium in appropriate places, such as bones and teeth, and prevent it from being deposited in places where it doesn’t belong , such as soft tissues.

Do we need vitamin K2 in our diet?

A very common misconception is that humans do not need K2 in their diet, as they have the ability to convert vitamin K1 to K2. The amount of K1 in typical diets is generally higher than that of K2, and researchers and clinicians have largely dismissed K2’s contribution to nutritional status as negligible.

However, although animals can convert vitamin K1 to K2, a significant amount of evidence suggests that humans require preformed K2 in their diet to obtain and maintain optimal health.

The strongest evidence that humans require preformed K2 in their diet is that epidemiological and intervention studies have shown its superiority over K1. According to the epidemiological study from the Netherlands mentioned above, K2 intake is inversely associated with heart disease in humans, while K1 intake is not.

An study of 2007 showed that vitamin K2 is at least three times more effective than vitamin K1 in activating proteins related to skeletal metabolism.

Foods rich in vitamin K2

All of this evidence points to the possibility that K2 may be an essential nutrient in the human diet. So where in what foods can we find vitamin K2? The following is a list of the foods richest in said vitamin:

  • Natto, a popular soybean dish in Japan.
  • Hard cheese.
  • soft cheese
  • egg yolks
  • Butter.
  • Chicken’s liver.
  • Salami.
  • Chicken breast.
  • Ground meat.

Gut bacteria were once mistakenly believed to play an important role in supplying this vitamin to the body. However, most of the evidence contradicts this opinion.

Most of the K2 produced in the intestine is embedded within bacterial membranes and is not available for absorption. Therefore, intestinal production of vitamin K2 probably makes only a small contribution to vitamin K status.

Fermented foods are a good source of vitamin K2

However, fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, cheese, and natto, contain substantial amounts of vitamin K2. Natto contains the highest measured concentration of K2 of any food; almost all of it is present in its MK-7 form, which research has shown to be a highly effective form.

We are still learning about the health benefits of vitamin K2

New research that furthers our understanding of the many important roles of vitamin K2 is being published at a rapid rate. However, it is already clear that vitamin K2 is an important nutrient for human health, and one of the least known by medical authorities and the general public.


  1. Nimptsch K, Rohrmann S, Linseisen J. Dietary intake of vitamin K and risk of prostate cancer in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg). Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87(4):985-992. doi:10.1093/ajcn/87.4.985
  2. Geleijnse JM, Vermeer C, Grobbee DE, et al. Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study. J Nutr. 2004;134(11):3100-3105. doi:10.1093/jn/134.11.3100

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