The Benefits of Vitamin K2

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Vitamin K2 is a member of the vitamin K family, a class of nutrients involved in blood clotting and maintaining bone health. Found naturally in chicken, cheeses, butter, egg yolks, and natto (a type of fermented soybean), vitamin K2 is also synthesized by bacteria. In addition, many people take vitamin K2 in supplement form. Vitamin K2 is sometimes referred to as menaquinone. Two common forms include MK-4 and MK-7.

Uses

Proponents claim that vitamin K2 may protect against a number of health problems, including heart disease and osteoporosis. Additionally, vitamin K2 is said to protect against some forms of cancer.

Health Benefits

Here's a look at some key study findings on the health benefits of vitamin K2:

Heart Disease

A number of studies suggest that a high intake of vitamin K2 may reduce your risk of heart disease. In a 2009 study in Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases, for instance, researchers analyzed the dietary intake of vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 from data from 16,057 women and found that those with the highest intake of vitamin K2 had a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease. According to the researchers, the association was mainly due to the vitamin K2 types MK-7, MK-8, and MK-9.

What's more, a 2010 research review published in the journal Maturitas found that vitamin K2 may help protect against cardio-metabolic disorders (such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome). In their analysis of five studies on vitamin K consumption and incidence of cardio-metabolic disease, the review's authors also found that vitamin K1 (the other type of vitamin K) may not protect against such disorders.

Bone Health

There's some evidence that K2 may preserve bone strength and reduce osteoporosis risk as you age. For a 2006 report in the Archives of Internal Medicine, scientists sized up the available research on vitamin K2 and K1 on bone loss and fractures. Results suggest that supplementing with vitamin K1 and K2 (menaquinone-4 or MK-4) may reduce bone loss. There was a strong effect of vitamin K2 in preventing bone fractures.

In a more recent research review published in Current Drug Safety, researchers found that combining vitamin K2 with bisphosphonate (a class of drugs that prevent the loss of bone mass) may be useful for preventing fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and vitamin K deficiency.

Cancer

Preliminary research indicates that vitamin K2 may aid in the treatment of some forms of cancer. For example, in a report published in European Journal of Surgical Oncology in 2012, researchers found that vitamin K2 significantly improved one year survival in people with hepatocellular carcinoma. However, a study published in Clinical Nutrition in 2017 found that vitamin K intake was not associated with cancer mortality.

Vitamin K1 vs. Vitamin K2

Vitamin K1 (also known as phylloquinone) is the form of vitamin K found in plants. According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin K1 is faster-acting, stronger, and more effective for some conditions than other forms of vitamin K. Still, some research suggests that intake of vitamin K2 may offer certain health benefits.

Caveats

Speak to your doctor before taking vitamin K in supplement form above the recommended amount. Vitamin K may interact with anticoagulants. If you take anticoagulants such as warfarin, you shouldn't increase your intake of vitamin K without consulting your physician. Vitamin K may interact with other medications and supplements (including coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E). 

Keep in mind that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

A Word From Verywell

While vitamin K2 may help with certain health problems, self-treating a chronic condition with vitamin K2 and avoiding standard care may have serious health consequences. Before you begin using vitamin K2, talk to your doctor to determine a safe and effective dosage.

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