Ever heard of vitamin K2? If you’re like most people, we’re guessing the answer is no. And while this nutrient isn’t talked about much and may be easy to overlook, some say it’s the “missing link” between the Western diet and several diseases and health ailments we’re prone to suffer from.
Vitamin K was discovered in 1929 as an essential nutrient for blood clotting. Danish scientist Henrik Dam attributed anti-hemorrhaging data he found to this fat-soluble vitamin he called “Koagulations vitamin” (= vitamin K). In the 1930s, dentist Dr. Weston Price found that vitamin K is essential in maintenance of oral health (which we all know affects the entire health system) and that a diet including vitamin K can prevent and heal dental cavities.
Now you might be wondering, what’s the difference between vitamin K1 and K2? Long story short, vitamin K refers to a group of vitamins that share a similar chemical structure; the two main forms found in the human diet are K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 is typically found in plant foods, namely leafy green vegetables (ie. kale, collard greens, and spinach), and makes up approximately 75% of vitamin K consumed by humans. Vitamin K2 is primarily found in animal products (pork, chicken, egg yolk and certain cheeses) and fermented foods (kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut) and accounts for approximately 25% of our total vitamin K intake.
The health outcomes of incorporating sufficient amounts of vitamin K2 into your diet are plenty. Vitamin K2 (also called Menaquinone 7):
- Strengthens bones, which can help to prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis (“porous bones”) is common in North America, affecting approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 8 men in Canada. (However, there’s some dispute about the accuracy of this statistic.)
- Combats tooth decay. As mentioned above, good oral health is essential for overall body health and even emotional wellbeing.
- Protects against hardening of the arteries and associated stroke risk.
- Assists in regulating blood sugar levels.
- Reduces risk of cancer. One study showed a reduction in risk of prostate cancer of 63% in men with high vitamin K2 intake.
- Reduces calcium deposits and lowers risk of cardiovascular disease. According to the Rotterdam Study, participants with the highest intake of vitamin K2 were 57% less likely to develop heart disease.
- Enhances mental function and may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
- According to this source, even enhances facial structure and gives you “prettier” cheekbones! By carrying calcium to where it needs to go, vitamin K2 supports the establishments of strong bones and teeth. To really boost your bone health, take vitamin K2 in conjunction with vitamin D, which absorbs calcium.
Have we convinced you yet that vitamin K2 is worth adding to your health routine? To up your vitamin K2 intake, try incorporating more chicken, eggs, and fermented foods into your diet. And as with any essential vitamins and minerals, we suggest adding a supplement to your dietary routine to ensure you’re covering your bases and ingesting adequate amounts. Especially if you’re vegetarian or don’t want to increase your intake of animal products, supplements can be a good way to go in this case. We suggest taking our incredible Quick K2 before a meal, and you can take up to three per day!