Vitamin K2 : Health Benefits And Sources

algaecal plus vitamin k2 source

Why Is Vitamin K Necessary?

Vitamin K2 cleans calcium deposits from your arteries and deposits it in your bones, and you have most likely never heard of it? It’s almost like the old good news/bad news jokes. The good news is Vitamin K2 has been clinically proven to provide extraordinary benefits for bone health and cardiovascular health, plus it is a powerful anti-oxidant and some emerging science indicates it might help your joints and intestinal health. Now for the bad news. It costs $1.5 million per kilogram so most supplement companies find it is not cost effective to include in their formulas. As long as we can buy a house and a Ferrari for the price of a kilo of K2, it may remain a secret that is relegated to research papers! A few companies like AlgaeCal International are dedicated to making vitamin K2 available in significant dosages in spite of the cost, so read on and see why we think it is worth the price.

Forms of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is the name of a group of compounds that are all related to one another. The first one discovered was Phylloquinone or K1. In the last decade most of the research has turned to the more effective Menaquinones, or vitamin K2. The vitamin K2’s are further divided into MK-4, MK-7 and several other forms. Recent studies have shown vitamin MK-7 to be more complete and have additional heart condition benefits.

Vitamin K Deficiency

A healthy intestinal tract can produce Vitamin K but in many cases it is not produced efficiently so it must be supplied by your food. Vitamin K is different from other fat soluble vitamins because it cannot be stored in the body either. It will almost always be necessary to get Vitamin K from your diet.

When you eat vitamin K1 in your food, only 5-10% of ingested K1 is absorbed and reaches your blood, but almost 100% of K2 is absorbed into your blood stream where it can be distributed for beneficial use in tissues including bones and arteries. Vitamin K2 also lasts for several days in your bloodstream compared to K1 which mostly disappears in a few hours.

Foods that include reasonable amounts of vitamin K1 include leafy vegetables, olive oil, cheese, liver, soy beans, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, coffee, and green tea. More than 80% of the Vitamin K in western diets consists of vitamin K1. The more beneficial form, K2, is difficult to find in your diet with the exception of the Japanese traditional food, Natto1

Vitamin K2 Rich Source – Natto

Natto, a typical breakfast food, is made from steamed and fermented soy beans. It’s use in Japan dates back hundreds of years to the age of Samurais who believed it increased their strength and quickened their reflexes.

Today about 7.5 billion packages of Natto are sold in Japan each year and Japanese health authorities have invested resources promoting regular use of Natto, including making it an integral part of the Japanese school breakfast programs. In the last ten years several studies have found natto, containing the active component vitamin K2, to increase bone mineral density and reduce bone fractures.2-5

Also, several studies on Vitamin K2 specifically has been found to promote bone metabolism and reduce the incidence of fracture in osteoporosis.6-12 As compared to vitamin K1, vitamin K2 has been found to be more effective in decreasing bone turnover in vitro13-14 and in vivo,15 suggesting that it may offer more bone health benefits than K1.

Vitamin K2 and Your Health

    Vitamin K2 Safety

    If you take Coumadin, Heparin, or another anti-coagulant you should consult your physician before taking vitamin K2 supplements. Vitamin K2 helps normal coagulation of blood. High levels of K2 do not cause abnormal blood clotting. You should not be concerned about taking levels of 45 mg/day or less, as numerous Japanese studies have shown even this high level is safe for adults. Most vitamin K2 supplements offer 45 – 150 micrograms per day.

    Vitamin K2 for Pregnant Women

    Pregnant women should be especially conscious of their vitamin K intake because the following birth defects have been linked to vitamin K deficiency:

    • Cardiac dysfunction
    • Craniofacial abnormalities
    • Flat nasal bridge
    • Growth disorders
    • Learning disorders
    • Microcephaly
    • Neural tube defects

    Vitamin K2 and Your Heart

    K2 has been reported to decrease serum cholesterol and cholesterol deposits in the aorta, contributing to the suppression of atherosclerosis.16-17 Vitamin K2 has been linked to a reduction in coronary heart disease. In fact one very large and significant study conducted in the Netherlands in 2004 followed 4800 healthy men and women for ten years. It found vitamin K2 reduced the risk of coronary heart disease mortality by 50%!19 Aortic calcification was also reduced by 30-40% in this famous Rotterdam study.

Adequate Intake Level of Vitamin K

In January 2001, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine established the adequate intake level for vitamin K in the U.S. as shown below.

Adequate Intake (AI) for Vitamin K

Life Stage

Age

Males (mcg/day)

Females (mcg/day)

Infants

0-6 months

2.0

2.0

Infants

7-12 months

2.5

2.5

Children

1-3 years

30

30

Children

4-8 years

55

55

Children

9-13 years

60

60

Adolescents

14-18 years

75

75

Adults

19 years and older

120

90

Pregnancy

18 years and younger

-

75

Pregnancy

19 years and older

-

90

Breastfeeding

18 years and younger

-

75

Breastfeeding

19 years and older

-

90

Although the “Adequate Intake” for vitamin K was recently increased, it is not clear if it will be optimal according to more recent science. Some multivitamins can contain small amounts – 10 to 25 mcg of vitamin K. To consume the amount of vitamin K associated with a decreased risk of hip fracture in the Framingham Heart Study (about 250 mcg/day), you need to eat a little more than 1/2 cup of chopped broccoli (the best source of K) or a large salad of mixed greens every day. For optimal bone and heart health most people will need to supplement. AlgaeCal® Plus contains a full 100 mcg/day of vitamin K2 in the MK-7 version.


References

  1. Kaneki, M et al 2001: Japanese fermented soybean food as the major determinant of large geographic difference in circulating levels of vitamin K2: Possible implications for hip-fracture risk. Nutrition. Vol 17, page 315-321
  2. Katsumaya, H. et al 2002: Usual dietary intake of fermented soybeans (Natto) is associated with bone mineral density in premenopausal women. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol June 48(3) page 207-215
  3. Katsumaya, H. et al 2004: Promotion of bone formation by fermented soybean (Natto) intake in premenopausal women. J Nutri Sci Vitaminol Apr 50(2) page 114-120
  4. Hodges, S.J et al 1991: Depressed levels of circulating menaquinones in patients with Osteoporotic fractures of spine and femoral neck. Bone vol 12, page 387-389
  5. Ikeda, Y. et al 2006: Intake of fermented soybeans, Natto, is associated with reduced bone loss in post menopausal women: Japanese population based osteoporosis study. J Nutri Vol 136, page 1323-1328
  6. Geleijnse, J.M. et al 2004: Dietary intake of menquinone (Vitamin K2) is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: The Rotterdam Study. Am Soc Nutr Science. May 2004. Nutritional Epidemiology


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