Vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone, is one of the forms of vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in several essential functions in the body. Vitamin K2 is distinct from vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and has specific functions and benefits. Here are some of the key aspects of vitamin K2:
Bone Health: Vitamin K2 plays a significant role in bone health by regulating calcium metabolism. It activates proteins, such as osteocalcin, that are essential for proper calcium utilization in bone mineralization. This can help improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Heart Health: Emerging research suggests that vitamin K2 may have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. It is believed to help prevent the accumulation of calcium in the arteries, reducing the risk of arterial calcification and potentially lowering the risk of heart disease.
Dental Health: Vitamin K2 may support dental health by promoting proper calcium utilization in the teeth, potentially reducing the risk of dental issues such as cavities.
Cancer Prevention: Some studies have explored the potential role of vitamin K2 in cancer prevention, particularly in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, although more research is needed in this area.
Brain Health: There is emerging research indicating that vitamin K2 may have a role in brain health and cognitive function, although this area of study is still in its early stages.
Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Vitamin K2 may possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for individuals with inflammatory conditions.
Vitamin K2 is found in animal-based and fermented foods, such as:
- Fermented dairy products: Natto (fermented soybeans) is particularly high in vitamin K2.
- Organ meats: Liver and other organ meats are good sources.
- Fatty fish: Fish like salmon and mackerel contain vitamin K2.
- Egg yolks: Pasture-raised egg yolks tend to have higher vitamin K2 content.
The human body can also convert some vitamin K1 (found in leafy green vegetables) into vitamin K2, but the conversion is not highly efficient.
While vitamin K2 is generally considered safe, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking vitamin K2 supplements, especially at high doses, as excessive intake may not be suitable for everyone. Vitamin K2 supplements are available and may be recommended in cases of deficiency, for specific health conditions, or to support bone and heart health.