What’s the difference between K1 and K2? Is all vitamin K the same? Actually, no. Through diet, you encounter vitamin K1 likely much more than K2. K1 is found in green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach.
K2, on the other hand, is more readily found in pasture raised livestock and fermented foods, which generally are not part of the Standard American Diet. Americans are not K1 deficient, but many are K2 deficient.
While symptoms of low levels of vitamin K1 are easily detected (bruising, nose bleeds, poor wound healing, heavy menstrual periods, GI bleeds, blood in urine) a vitamin K2 deficiency is often silent. Vitamin K2 supports cardiovascular and bone health. Both plaque buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis) and decreased bone density can be silent killers, taking years before any issues surface.
Vitamin K2 deficiency can occur due to insufficient dietary intake, but there are other ways you can become K2-deficient. Chronic conditions that interfere with your gut’s absorption rate, chemotherapy, dialysis patients and others are at risk of malnutrition. Certain pharmaceuticals also increase your chances of being K2-deficient. These medications include antibiotics, antacids, statins and anti-seizure drugs.
Antibiotics are a major culprit since your gut microbiome serve as assistants in producing K2. Long-term antibiotic use can affect your delicate microbiome in the small intestine, creating K2-deficiency.
Your body needs both K1 and K2, but the food you eat provides you with ample K1. Most supplements on the market today are in vitamin K1 form and abandon K2 as an essential nutrient. Be sure to check labels carefully.
Vitamin K2 is your body’s air traffic controller, guiding calcium from depositing into soft tissues such as the kidneys (kidney stones) and arteries (atherosclerosis). K2 helps direct calcium to where it’s needed most, bones and teeth, improving bone density and dental health.
Heart disease is the number one killer in America. Supplementing with vitamin K2 may be cardio-protective. In a study spanning up to ten years, vitamin K2 supplementation reduced the risk of developing vascular calcification by 52% and lowered the risk of dying from heart disease by 57%.
In another large study of 16,057 women, supplementing with high levels of vitamin K2 showed statistically significant reduced risk of heart disease — for every 10 mcg of K2 they consumed daily, heart disease risk was reduced by 9%.
K2 can be divided into different subtypes, the main ones being: MK4 and MK7. MK4 appears in abundance in the brain and appears to be cognitive-protective while MK7 provides greater benefit in osteo-protection. Studies have linked low levels of vitamin K2, especially MK-7, with a higher incidence of fractures. MK4 prevents oxidative stress, plays an anti-inflammatory role in the brain and has shown mechanisms of promoting cell signaling as well as neuronal protection of brain cells.
In animal studies researching multiple sclerosis, MK4 played a role in increasing sulfatides in the brain. Sulfatides are responsible for the protection of myelin sheaths and signal conduction. Low levels of sulfatides in the brain are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
K2 may also play a role in cancer prevention, working synergistically with vitamin D. Interestingly, several studies have been done on vitamin K2 and certain types of cancer. In another study consisting of 11,000 men, high vitamin K2 intake lowered the risk of advanced prostate cancer by 63%.
Multiple studies have examined the role of K2 and bone health. Seven studies confirmed that supplementing with vitamin K2 reduced spinal fractures by 60%, hip fractures by 77% and all non-spinal fractures by 81%.
Many people take Vitamin D and calcium supplements thinking they're helping their bones. The truth is without the addition of Vitamin K2, such a health regimen could prove dangerous. Without Vitamin K2, the body cannot direct calcium to the bones where it's needed; instead, the calcium resides in soft tissue (like the arteries)--leading to a combination of osteoporosis and atherosclerosis.
Vitamin K deficiency is widespread—even in healthy adults. To get the range of benefits that Vitamin K offers, you must take Vitamin K2 as a supplement, food sources are limited, at best. Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble substance and is needed for normal blood coagulation. It is associated with reduced risk for heart disease and hip fractures, and is also involved in bone formation and repair. Vitamin K2 has been shown to inhibit calcium deposits (i.e., calcification) in blood vessels and even improve arterial flexibility.
Our Vegan D3 + K2 Full Spectrum is unique because we utilize a sustainably harvested source of cholecalciferol derived entirely from lichen (a vegan source of vitamin D3). This product offers 3-IN-1-SUPPORT using Vitamin D3 along with two essential forms of K2 (MK-4 + MK-7).
Fat soluble vitamins work synergistically. Our Vegan ADK consists of two forms of Micellized Vitamin A (palmitate and betacarotene), VEGAN Vitamin D3 along with two essential forms of K2 (MK-4 + MK-7). Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, while Vitamin K2 helps the body ensure that calcium is properly utilized (i.e., that it is ending up in the bones and not in the heart and blood vessels). Vitamin K2 keeps calcium in bones and teeth and out of soft tissues.