There are 3 forms of Vitamin K. K1 is found in fresh raw green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli and parsley and certain fruits like avocado and kiwi. K1 is best known for its role in blood coagulation (K stands for “koagulation”, named by the Danish scientist who discovered it in 1929). K2, found in fermented foods like curd cheeses and especially in a fermented soy called natto, has many additional health benefits. K3 is a synthetic form that is best avoided.
Possibly the most significant role of K2 is in the building of healthy bones. It is necessary for the osteoblasts – the cells that build new bone – to produce the protein osteocalcin which holds the calcium in place. At the same time K2 has been shown to inhibit the breakdown of bone by osteoclast cells. Together these actions promote strong healthy bones and help prevent osteoporosis. Several studies have shown that vitamins K2 and D3 work synergistically to increase bone formation and bone mineral density.
K2 also improves heart and vascular health by increasing strength and elasticity of blood vessel walls, preventing their calcification (“hardening of the arteries”). K2 also promotes healthier and younger looking skin, improves memory, helps maintain normal blood sugar levels, protects from certain liver cancers, prevents platelet aggregation (blood clots), and acts as an antioxidant.
This vitamin is often overlooked because most health authorities assume vitamin K deficiencies are rare, but there is currently no lab test available for levels in bone and blood vessels. Deficiencies are likely with: a diet low in raw green vegetables; low bile or pancreatic enzyme production; bowel disease that impairs absorption; and unhealthy bowel flora. Recent studies are finding much benefit from supplementation. Note: because vitamin K prevents blood clots, if you are already on a blood thinning medication consult your physician or pharmacist before adding K to your health program.
This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.