Vitamins K1 & K2

While most people associate Vitamin K with blood clotting, it actually has a variety of important roles in the body. Vitamin K helps support the bones by preventing osteoarthritis and bone fractures. It keeps blood vessels pliable and less likely to break from brittleness. It also supports liver function which addresses problems with glucose regulation, and it prevents excessive menstrual bleeding. It can prevent unwanted blood thinning. There are two main forms of Vitamin K, K1 and K2, that can easily be found in the average diet. Understanding the differences can help you optimize your intake for overall health.

Found in all green foods, Vitamin K1 is converted by probiotic activity in the intestines to the more absorbable form of Vitamin K2, which is found commonly in egg yolks, butter and tofu. Once converted, Vitamin K2 guides calcium into bone building processes of the body. Without enough K2, calcium circulates through the body unbalanced, migrating into soft tissues like arteries and the brain, which can cause stroke or heart attack, even Alzheimer’s disease, through unwanted arterial calcification.

Vitamin K2 supplements often include Vitamin D to further optimize calcium absorption.

Deficiencies of K develop from poor nutrient absorption, such as celiac disease, and colitis. Long-term or intensive use antibiotics kill off the beneficial bacteria in the gut responsible for converting K1 to the more useful form of K2, which can result in a Vitamin K deficiency. Additionally, a poorly functioning liver can inhibit the body’s ability to properly use K2 throughout the system.

K1 Common Names: phylloquinone or phytonadione

K2 Common Names: menaquinone or MK-7

Deficiencies are not common, however, it is important to know what foods to eat to maintain optimal Vitamin K levels, which forms to take for our individual goals, and when we need to support our body with supplements.