You could have heard about vitamin Ok. It performs a giant function in blood clotting, bone well being and coronary heart well being.
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What it’s possible you’ll not know is that vitamin Ok is definitely a reputation given to a category of nutritional vitamins. What we generally consider as vitamin Ok consists of vitamin K1 (additionally known as phylloquinone), in addition to vitamin K2 (menaquinone). They work in another way in your physique and are available from totally different meals sources.
Vitamin K1 comes from plant sources, like leafy greens and blueberries. While vitamin K2 is extra widespread in animal merchandise, fermented meals and a few sorts of cheese. It stays in your physique longer than vitamin K1 and holds the potential for some critical well being advantages which might be simply now beginning to come to gentle.
“I think we’ve always known that there’s a vitamin K2, I just don’t think we’ve really ever given it enough credit for how much work it does in the body,” says registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD.
Zumpano helps us perceive the well being advantages of vitamin K2 and get extra of it in your eating regimen.
What is vitamin K2?
Think of vitamin Ok as a set of nutritional vitamins that play an analogous function in your well being. That class is made up of vitamin K1, in addition to vitamin K2 and vitamin K2’s 10 subtypes, often known as MK-4 to MK-13.
“Vitamin K is a class of vitamins, like citrus fruits are a class of fruits,” Zumpano says. “Think of oranges, grapefruits, limes and lemons. They may grow on different trees and have different tastes, but at the end of the day, they’re all citrus fruits. It makes sense for them to be grouped together because they share a lot of common traits.”
The identical is true of vitamin Ok. Ok nutritional vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they dissolve in fat and oils. And they play essential roles in blood clotting, bone well being and coronary heart well being.
Vitamin Ok isn’t distinctive on this regard. Lots of nutritional vitamins are named by a single letter however have numerous subtypes. B nutritional vitamins, for instance, are damaged down into eight subtypes.
What are the advantages of vitamin K2?
Zumpano says the thrilling factor about vitamin K2 is that it’s absorbed by your physique extra slowly than vitamin K1. Whereas vitamin K1 is rapidly filtered out of your blood — usually inside a matter of hours, vitamin K2 has the potential to be longer-lasting. That means it stays in your physique longer — a number of days even — and has extra time to do its good work.
“The absorption of vitamin K1 is pretty low because of its structure. It’s a shorter chain, so it gets filtered through your liver more quickly,” Zumpano explains. “The thinking is that vitamin K2 has the potential to have more influence on your body because it’s a longer chain, so your body is slower to absorb and digest it.”
There’s nonetheless a lot to be understood in regards to the variations between vitamin K1 and vitamin K2, and analysis is ongoing. Zumpano particulars what we do learn about Ok nutritional vitamins, and vitamin K2 particularly, together with a few of its most essential advantages.
Aids in blood clotting
One of the principle features of Ok nutritional vitamins is to permit your blood to clot. In truth, the “K” in vitamin Ok is in reference to the German phrase “koagulation,” which interprets to “coagulation” or the power to clot (or thicken) blood.
Blood clots could sound like a nasty factor — and they are often. After all, blood clots can journey to your mind and trigger strokes. And clots in your arteries trigger coronary heart assaults.
But a certain quantity of clotting-ability in your blood is essential to your well being. The means to your blood to clot is what retains you from bleeding out after an harm. Blood that’s too skinny could make you bruise extra simply and even go away you in danger for harmful inside bleeding.
Vitamin Ok will help preserve your blood not too thick and never too skinny. In the phrases of Goldilocks, it retains your blood excellent.
At this level, researchers have but to find out if vitamin K1 or vitamin K2 are equally liable for clotting or if one is any more practical than the opposite in terms of blood clotting.
Builds wholesome bones
When you consider robust and wholesome bones, it’s possible you’ll be tempted to think about calcium as the principle nutrient to stop fractures and osteoporosis.
And it’s true that calcium is a crucial a part of bone well being. But analysis is exhibiting that calcium doesn’t act alone.
“Having low levels of vitamin K is associated with a higher risk of bone fractures,” Zumpano notes. “We’ve always put so much emphasis on calcium for bone health. But in reality, vitamin D, vitamin K and calcium all actually work together.”
Vitamin Ok helps activate a protein known as osteocalcin, which binds to calcium to construct bones. That makes vitamin Ok an integral part of bone well being.
Some early research are exhibiting that vitamin K2 dietary supplements could scale back fractures and enhance bone high quality in individuals with osteoporosis.
In Japan and different elements of Asia, one type of vitamin K2 (MK-4), is used as a therapy for osteoporosis.
Improves coronary heart well being
In addition to its constructive results on blood clotting and powerful bones, vitamin Ok helps retains your coronary heart wholesome. That’s due to the way in which it acts to filter calcium out of your blood vessels.
When calcium builds up in your physique, it could possibly result in hardening (or calcification) of your tissues, organs and blood vessels. Calcium deposits in your arteries can result in high blood pressure, kidney disease and extra.
“Vitamin K has been shown to help activate a protein that helps prevent calcium from depositing in your arteries,” Zumpano explains. “Calcium deposits contribute to the development of plaque, so vitamin K does a lot of good for your heart health.”
Some early analysis has proven that vitamin K2 could also be more practical at clearing out calcium than vitamin K1.
One research discovered that individuals who took in a minimum of 32 micrograms per day of vitamin K2 of their eating regimen had been 50% less likely to die from heart disease related to hardened arteries. People in that research didn’t devour any vitamin K1.
Other analysis confirmed that girls and other people assigned feminine at delivery (AFAB) who had a excessive consumption of vitamin K2-rich meals (however not vitamin K1) had been less likely to experience cardiovascular events, like coronary heart assaults and strokes. For each 10 micrograms of vitamin K2 they consumed per day, their threat of coronary heart illness decreased by 9%.
The European Food Safety Authority has authorised a well being declare for vitamin Ok, noting that “a cause-and-effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of vitamin K and the maintenance of normal bone.”
Getting your fill of vitamin K2
While meals security organizations in elements of Asia and Europe formally acknowledge some well being advantages of vitamin Ok, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t authorized a health claim for vitamin Ok. Essentially, meaning extra analysis must be completed for the FDA to again vitamin Ok as a big contributor to well being.
But when you’re trying so as to add extra vitamin K2 to your eating regimen, know that among the prime sources of vitamin Ok-rich meals aren’t ones we sometimes see as a part of a nutritious diet. Whereas vitamin K1 is considerable in leafy greens and different “health foods,” vitamin K2 is present in a whole lot of meals that aren’t sometimes beneficial as a part of a heart-healthy eating regimen.
“Vitamin K2 is often found in animal products and fermented foods, as opposed to natural, plant food sources,” Zumpano notes. “But that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. There are some foods that are both naturally healthy and rich in vitamin K2.”
Some of the meals highest in vitamin K2 embrace:
- Nattō (fermented soy).
- Gouda cheese.
- Blue cheese.
- Egg yolks.
People who take blood thinners ought to speak with their healthcare supplier earlier than rising their consumption of vitamin K1 or vitamin K2.
Additionally, some analysis means that vitamin K2 supplements may be beneficial for some people. Vitamin K1 is most helpful to your physique when it’s eaten in its pure type. That’s due to its shorter absorption time, Zumpano says.
Vitamin K2, nevertheless, could also be an efficient complement as a result of it isn’t used up by your physique as rapidly. That signifies that the dietary supplements may have an opportunity to work, relatively than merely go via your system as waste.
While a lot remains to be to be discovered about vitamin K2, the indicators to date level to an underutilized and underappreciated powerhouse for our our bodies.
“It’s exciting to see that we’re learning more all the time about vitamin K2 and its potential,” Zumpano says. “It really does seem to be something that will get more attention and will make a difference for a lot of people’s health as we learn more.”