VITAMIN K2: Function, Daily Requirement, Benefits, Deficiency, and Sources

VITAMIN K2: Function, Daily Requirement, Benefits, Deficiency, and Sources

Why This Little-Known Vitamin is Essential for Bone and Heart Health

When we think of essential vitamins, vitamin K may not be the first to come to mind. However, vitamin K2, a lesser-known form of vitamin K, plays a crucial role in maintaining strong bones and a healthy heart. In this article, we will explore the function of vitamin K2, its daily requirements, the benefits of getting enough, signs of deficiency, and food sources that are rich in this important nutrient.

"Vitamin K2 is the underappreciated nutrient that has been shown to play a critical role in maintaining bone and heart health." - Dr. Sarah Brewer, MD


What is Vitamin K2 and Why Do We Need It?

Vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone, is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for the activation of several proteins that regulate calcium in the body. It helps direct calcium into our bones and teeth, where it is needed for strength and density, and away from our arteries, where it can contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. Vitamin K2 also supports healthy blood clotting and may play a role in reducing inflammation.

Vitamin K2, on the other hand, is also known as menaquinone. There are several forms of vitamin K2, including MK-4 and MK-7, which are commonly found in supplements.

When it comes to the different forms of vitamin K2, research suggests that MK-7 may be the most beneficial. MK-7 has a longer half-life in the body compared to other forms of vitamin K2, which means it stays in the bloodstream for a longer period of time and can have a greater impact on bone health and cardiovascular health.

The main difference between vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 is their role in the body. Vitamin K1 is primarily involved in blood clotting, while vitamin K2 is involved in bone health and regulating calcium metabolism in the body.

While both forms of vitamin K are important for overall health, vitamin K1 is found mainly in plant-based foods such as leafy greens, while vitamin K2 is found mainly in animal-based foods and fermented foods such as natto.


Kombucha - natural source of vitamin K2

How Much Vitamin K2 Do I Need Per Day?

The recommended daily intake for vitamin K2 varies depending on age and gender. For adults, the recommended daily intake is 90-120 micrograms per day. Pregnant and lactating women may require slightly more.


How Much is Too Much?

While there is no established upper limit for vitamin K2, it is important to note that high doses of vitamin K2 may interfere with certain medications, such as blood thinners. As with any supplement, it is best to speak with a healthcare provider before starting to take it.

It's important to note that individuals taking blood thinners should consult with their healthcare provider before taking vitamin K supplements, as they can interfere with the medication's effectiveness.


Top 5 Foods High in Vitamin K2 and Some Alternatives

The richest food sources of vitamin K2 are fermented foods, such as natto (a Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans), and some types of cheese, such as Gouda, Edam, and Brie. Other good sources of vitamin K2 include egg yolks, liver, and butter from grass-fed cows. If you are not a fan of these foods, vitamin K2 supplements are available.


K2 natural source pickling-cucumbers

Vitamin K2 Deficiency

Vitamin K2 deficiency is rarely diagnosed today, however certain conditions or medications may increase the risk of deficiency. This important vitamin is necessary for the activation of proteins involved in calcium metabolism, which helps to direct calcium to the bones and away from soft tissues. Signs of vitamin K2 deficiency can include easy bruising or bleeding, heavy menstrual periods, and an increased risk of fractures. Vitamin D3 is also important for calcium metabolism, as it aids in the absorption of calcium from the intestines and helps to regulate calcium levels in the blood. Both vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 work together to ensure proper calcium metabolism in the body, and deficiencies in either can have negative effects on health.

Vitamin D3 is necessary for the absorption of calcium from the intestines, and it also helps to regulate the levels of calcium in the blood. Without sufficient vitamin D3, the body cannot absorb enough calcium, leading to a deficiency. This deficiency can lead to weak bones, muscle weakness, and other health problems.

Vitamin K2, on the other hand, is necessary for the activation of certain proteins that are involved in calcium metabolism. These proteins help to direct calcium into the bones and teeth, where it is needed, and away from soft tissues such as arteries and joints, where it can be harmful. Without enough vitamin K2, these proteins remain inactive, which can lead to calcium buildup in the soft tissues and a deficiency of calcium in the bones.

In this way, vitamin K2 works in conjunction with vitamin D3 to ensure proper calcium metabolism in the body. A deficiency in either of these vitamins can disrupt this delicate balance and lead to calcium metabolism disorders.

Specifically, a deficiency in vitamin K2 has been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems related to calcium metabolism. It is also believed that a lack of vitamin K2 may contribute to the development of arterial calcification, a condition in which calcium builds up in the arteries and can lead to cardiovascular disease.


Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Vitamin K2 Deficiency

The most common cause of vitamin K2 deficiency is inadequate dietary intake, especially in individuals who avoid animal products or fermented foods. Other factors that may increase the risk of deficiency include malabsorption disorders, long-term use of antibiotics, and certain medications that interfere with vitamin K2 absorption. If you suspect that you may have a vitamin K2 deficiency, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider. Treatment may involve increasing dietary intake of vitamin K2-rich foods or taking a supplement.


K2 Vitamin  sauerkraut-with-carrot

Who Should Take Vitamin K2 Supplements?

Most healthy individuals can meet their vitamin K2 needs through a balanced diet. However, certain populations may benefit from taking a vitamin K2 supplement, such as individuals with a history of osteoporosis or cardiovascular disease, those who have undergone bariatric surgery or have a malabsorption disorder, and individuals who take medications that interfere with vitamin K2 absorption.



Vitamin K2 is a vital nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining strong bones and a healthy heart. By incorporating vitamin K2-rich foods into your diet or speaking with a healthcare provider about a supplement, you can ensure that you are getting enough of this important nutrient. With its role in regulating calcium in the body and supporting healthy blood clotting, vitamin K2 is an essential part of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. So, make sure to include vitamin K2-rich foods in your meals and talk to your healthcare provider about your individual needs for this important nutrient.

K2 Vitamin cabbage-kimchi-tomatoes-marinated-sauerkraut-sour-glass

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