About Vitamin K2:
Not many people know it, but there's more than one variety of Vitamin K. Vitamin K2's functions are different than the more commonly known and supplemented variety of Vitamin K known as Vitamin K1 (Phylloquinone). Vitamin K2 is a fat soluble vitamin that is beneficial to bones, teeth, salivary glands, the brain, and the vascular system (veins, arteries, and heart). Relatively little is known about K2 compared to similar nutrients - like Vitamin D and Vitamin A - and scientists are only beginning to discover some of the amazing ways it impacts human health.
K2’s benefits to bone health and bone density are well documented by studies. It works in concert with Vitamin D and Calcium in this function, which is why it is often combined with them in nutritional supplements, multivitamins, and special "bone building" supplement blends. Vitamin K2 directs calcium to deposit in bones, where it should be, and out of veins and arteries, where it shouldn’t. Studies also show it boosts osteoblasts (bone building cells) and has a suppressive effect on osteoclasts (bone destroying cells).
Weston A. Price was a dentist who travelled the world studying indigenous cultures and their diets to gain insight into their remarkable dental health. He discovered that using Vitamin K2-rich foods like liver and grass-fed dairy products (especially butter) along with Vitamin D and Vitamin A-rich foods (like Cod Liver Oil) resulted in the re-mineralization of existing dental caries (cavities) while preventing the formation of new ones. He documented his numerous experiments, observations, and studies in his book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”. Few modern-day researchers have bothered to study his theories, but it seems that modern medical findings are validating his ideas about Vitamin K2's functions, and there is no shortage of anecdotal reports from those who've tried his recommendations and seen improvement in their dental health.
K2 is also a possible treatment for salivary stones (calcium deposits in the salivary glands), probably because of its effect on calcium metabolism.
Another beneficial effect of Vitamin K2 is its ability to keep arteries from hardening by directing calcium to the skeletal structure instead of allowing it to deposit in soft tissues. Many studies exist which link higher levels of K2 to a lowered risk of heart disease and hardened arteries.
-Vitamin K2 and Your Brain.
Large amounts of Vitamin K2 are found the brain. This is because it functions as a component of the Myelin Sheaths that protect nerves, and the part it plays in the production of certain beneficial enzymes in the brain. As a result, Vitamin K2 is being looked at as a potential preventative and/or treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
-How much Vitamin K2 Does a Person Need?
A daily value is not established since so little is known about this vital nutrient. Most supplements range from a few micro-grams all the way to 45 milligrams (a milligram is equal to 1,000 micro-grams). While milligram doses have been used safely in human studies, most health experts suggest a smaller daily dose for the average person, usually around 70-200 micro-grams.
Foods that are relatively high in K2 include:
Aged full-fat cheeses, grass-fed butter and dairy products, and the Japanese dish Natto. Bacteria in the gut can also (theoretically) manufacture Vitamin K for absorption, however almost nothing is known about the efficiency of this process.
Though there are many options available, the two most common and popular choices of Vitamin K2 supplementsare MK-4 (Menatetrenone) and MK-7 (Menaquinone). Each is a different variety of Vitamin K, and has slightly different effects in the body. MK-4 doesn’t last as long in the body as MK-7, for example, but many studies that showed the benefits of K2 on heart health used the MK-4 form. MK-7 is found in fermented plant foods like Natto, while MK-4 is found in animal products like liver and dairy. There is also a synthetic form of Vitamin K2 called Menadione.