Vitamin K2: How Important is All Trans?
Vitamin K2 falls into the fat soluble vitamin category. It works alongside vitamin D, driving calcium to the right places. Vitamin K2 supports cardiovascular and bone health. But it does even more than that.
K2 can be divided into different subtypes, the main ones being: MK4 and MK7. MK4 appears in abundance in the brain and is 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.
Vitamin K2 is tricky to get from food. It’s available in fermented foods, such as kimchi, but food sources are pretty limited in today's standard diet, and as a result, vitamin K2 deficiency is a real thing in America. Even otherwise healthy adults may have a vitamin K2 deficiency and not know it. A vitamin K2 deficiency has no initial symptoms. It’s a silent deficiency that has a way of creeping up later as something serious, such as atherosclerosis.
Keep in mind that a vitamin K2 deficiency might not be the result of insufficient dietary intake. It can also be an absorption issue. Chronic conditions that interfere with your gut’s absorption rate, chemotherapy and dialysis patients 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 serves as assistants in producing K2. Long-term antibiotic use can affect your delicate microbiome in the small intestine, creating K2-deficiency.
Even supplementation with K2 is not enough because of the diversity in quality on the market today. For enhanced bioavailability, more is not always better. It’s also important that the product is bioactive, meaning that your body readily recognizes it and can absorb and easily utilize it.
In the world of K2 supplements, it’s important that the ingredients are pure and all trans.
Structurally, vitamin K2 contains menaquinones with unique isoprenoids consisting of specific numbers of side chains. MK-7, for example, has seven isoprene residues in its side chain. MK-4, hence, has four. The natural state of these menaquinones is referred to as all-trans. It is always best to stay as close to nature as possible. This is considered the most bioavailable form, recognized more readily by the body.
Issue can arise when creating a K2 supplement that is all trans. K2 is sourced from bacterial fermentation, which may distort the composition of the isomers when created in a lab. It is influenced highly by the production method, the way it is purified and extracted as well as the environmental conditions, such as exposure to light.
Looking at the all-trans menaquinone, the isoprenoid units are linear. If they are kinked or distorted in some fashion, they lose this natural geometric shape and are now known as cis, not trans. So, what’s wrong with the cis form? Think of a warped key that no longer fits in the lock no matter how hard you jiggle it. This is the issue with cis menaquinone. Cis can no longer fit certain structures in the body down in the cellular level, which may create a cascade of events. Enzymes and proteins dependent on K2 no longer have a catalyst. They can’t function properly without being activated.
Sadly, many MK-7 found in supplements are a blend of cis and trans. If a label says 100 mcg (microgram) of MK-7, you’d expect most of it to be absorbed or bioavailable, which is not necessarily the case. In most scenarios, it is impossible to tell how much of the 100 mcg is in the biologically active and beneficial trans form. Many manufacturers of K2 products don’t even test their products for cis and trans composition. It has simply not dawned on the industry’s collective conscience. As you can see, it’s an important question, and as a consumer, one you should know the answer to before investing in a supplement.
K2 supplements analyzed at the University of Oslo suggest that some products contain only about 15% of MK-7 in the trans form. This means that the product may be providing you with just 15 mcg of trans MK-7 and 85 mcg cis MK-7 instead of the 100 mcg of usable K2 as claimed by the label. That’s a big disparity. What might it be doing--or not doing--when it comes to your health and wellness?
The MenaQ7 we utilize in our Vegan D3+K2 and Vegan A-D-K is all trans and created from a fermentation off chickpeas, NOT SOY! We choose our patented ingredients for their in-depth research, published studies and superior quality. Our MK-4 is also all trans and sourced from the geranium flower.
The bottom line is this: It’s not enough these days to just glance through the ingredient list when choosing a supplement for you and your family. Ask the right questions.
When supplementing with vitamin D, be sure it also contains K2. K2 drives calcium away from soft tissues and into bones and teeth where it is needed most. All vitamin D supplementation should pair with K2.
When choosing a K2 supplement, be sure it includes both forms of K2: MK-4 and MK-7 to provide systemic benefit. Also choose the product that is all trans.
When choosing ANY supplement, find out as much as possible about their sourcing and production. Are the raw materials from China? Does the company provide third party testing? Is the manufacturing facility certified? What solvents, if any, are used in the extraction method.
We realize that being an informed consumer takes time and can be exhausting. This is why we provide you with transparency regarding our ingredients, sourcing, manufacturing practices and commitment to purity. Purity is and always will be our priority.