As we age, our skin naturally loses its youthful elasticity and can become prone to wrinkles and premature aging. While many people seek out various skincare products and treatments to address these concerns, they often overlook the importance of vitamins and minerals in maintaining healthy, youthful skin. Vitamin K2, in particular, is an essential nutrient that is not only important for bone and cardiovascular health but also plays a crucial role in promoting healthy, vibrant skin.
What is Vitamin K2 and Why is it Important?
While our bodies need both Vitamin K1 and K2, the majority of supplements available on the market today only contain Vitamin K1. Vitamin K2 is typically found in grass-fed livestock (the fat and dairy products) and fermented foods such as natto & kimchi, which are not commonly part of the Standard American Diet. As a result, many Americans may have insufficient levels of this essential nutrient, and this can dramatically impact the health and appearance of their skin.
Vitamin K2 plays a critical role in ensuring that Calcium is properly utilized by the body. Working alongside Vitamin D, K2 helps direct Calcium to the right places in the body, such as the bones and teeth, while keeping it away from soft tissues and blood vessels where it can lead to serious issues like atherosclerosis. This includes the skin, where excess Calcium can cause the loss of smoothness and elasticity that is often associated with aging. K2 also helps support healthy elastin, the protein responsible for maintaining the skin's elasticity, promoting healthy blood circulation and younger-looking skin.
How Vitamin K2 Can Impact Your Skin?
Research has shown that Vitamin K2 insufficiency may contribute to premature aging, and that those who consume fermented foods rich in Vitamin K2 tend to have fewer visible wrinkles. In fact, a study conducted at Yale University found a link between premature skin wrinkling and lower bone density, suggesting a connection between calcium distribution, skin elasticity, and bone mass.
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 insufficiency is mostly silent. A clue, though, might be looking right back at you from that mirror!
While obtaining enough Vitamin K2 is essential for healthy skin, it's also important to note that your body must be able to properly metabolize and utilize it. Research has shown that even those who obtain enough Vitamin K2 in their diets may still experience premature skin wrinkling and sagging if their bodies are not able to use the nutrient effectively.
Chronic conditions that interfere with your gut’s absorption rate, chemotherapy, dialysis patients and others are at risk of malabsorption. Certain pharmaceuticals also increase your chances of being K2 insufficient. These medications include antibiotics, antacids, statins and anti-seizure drugs to name a few.
Antibiotics are a major culprit since your gut microbiome serves as assistants in producing Vitamin K2 from Vitamin K1. This is because antibiotic use can affect your delicate microbiome in the small intestine, creating a deficiency of good bacteria (probiotics) that are able to ferment Vitamin K1 into Vitamin K2.
Although our bodies are able to convert some Vitamin K1 into Vitamin K2, it's usually simply not enough… Obtaining your Vitamin K2 from a direct source, such as through food or supplementation, has greater skin health benefits than consuming Vitamin K1 on its own.
Other Vitamins Essential for Skin Health
While Vitamin K2 plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy, youthful skin, it's important to note that other vitamins and minerals are also essential for skin health. Vitamins A and D, for example, work synergistically with K2 to support healthy skin. Vitamin A is important for optimal skin cell proliferation, while vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. However, both of those vitamins rely on Vitamin K2 to work effectively, and a K2 insufficiency can impact their ability to support healthy skin.
Foods High in Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is an essential nutrient, however it can be challenging to get enough through diet alone, as it is primarily found in grass-fed animal-based products and fermented foods. Here’s a list of the top food sources of Vitamin K2:
1. Grass-fed Butter and Cheese
Grass-fed butter and cheese are excellent sources of Vitamin K2. In particular, cheese made from the milk of grass-fed animals contains high levels of a specific type of Vitamin K2 called MK-4 (Menatetrenone). Butter from grass-fed animals is also a great source of MK-4. Be careful though as most American adults do not actually tolerate dairy products from cows. Consider sourcing your dairy from grass-fed sheep or goats as dairy form these animals is often better-tolerated by adults.
2. Egg Yolks
Egg yolks from pasture-raised chickens are a good source of Vitamin K2. Studies have found that the Vitamin K2 content in egg yolks increases when the chickens are fed a diet high in grass & greens. Look for eggs labeled as "pasture-raised" or "free-range" for the highest Vitamin K2 content.
3. Organ Meats
Organ meats, such as liver and kidney, are excellent sources of Vitamin K2. These meats are also rich in other essential nutrients, such as Vitamin A and Iron, making them a highly nutritious food choice.
4. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods, such as natto, sauerkraut, and kimchi, are some of the best sources of Vitamin K2. Natto, a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans, contains the highest levels of Vitamin K2 of any food.
5. Grass-fed Meat
Grass-fed meat, such as beef and lamb, contains higher levels of Vitamin K2 than conventionally raised meat. This is because grass-fed animals have a diet that is higher in Vitamin K1 than grain-fed animals.
Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, are also good sources of Vitamin K2. However, the Vitamin K2 content in poultry is highly dependent on the diet of the birds. Look for poultry that has been raised on grassy pasture with a diet high in Vitamin K1 for the best results.
The Best Vitamin K2 Supplement
Pure TheraPro’s Vegan, Full-Spectrum Ultimate K2 liquid Vitamin K2 supplement offers a unique formulation of Vitamin K2 in both of its essential forms MK-4 (Menatetrenone) & MK-7 (Menaquinone).
It’s formulated and manufactured in a cGMP & NSF-certified laboratory right here in the USA and contains a clinical dose of Vitamin K2 (680 mcg).
Ultimate K2 is derived from lab-controlled garbanzo bean [chickpea] fermentation & Geraniol, sourced from geranium flowers. We use a base of pure MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) from organic coconut oil for enhanced absorption.