Medically Reviewed By Elizabeth A. Swick, MS, RDN
Is Vitamin K2 Really Necessary?
You've likely heard that calcium is essential for bone health, but it's not the only nutrient that contributes to strong, healthy bones and helps fight bone loss. Vitamin K also has a role to play. Read on to learn what vitamin K is and how it could make a difference if you take calcium supplements.
What Is Vitamin K2?
Vitamin K is one of the fat-soluble vitamins that your body needs to function correctly but can't produce enough on its own. There are two main categories of this vitamin: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is necessary for normal blood clotting, while vitamin K2 helps distribute calcium throughout the body.
Found in green vegetables, some fruits, meat, eggs, cheese, and soybeans, vitamin K1 is relatively easy to get via foods, with most people getting enough vitamin K1 from their food intake. Vitamin K2 is a different story. Bacteria in the colon produce small amounts of this vitamin, and it's found in fermented foods. You're more likely not to get enough vitamin K2 through diet alone, especially if you have a digestive disorder like Celiac disease or ulcerative colitis.
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin K2?
The most significant benefit of vitamin K2 is that it helps direct calcium absorbed from supplements and food to where it needs to go. One of its jobs is to switch on osteocalcin, a protein that deposits calcium into bones. Vitamin K2 helps the body maintain strong bones by assisting with this process. For older adults at risk for bone loss, vitamin K2 is critical due to its bone health benefits.
In your skeleton, calcium is vital, but in other areas of the body, calcium can cause problems. Specifically, calcium deposits in the arteries in your cardiovascular system can pose risks to your health. Called arterial calcification, a build-up of calcium in the arteries changes the makeup of the walls of the blood vessels. The deposits cause the walls to stiffen and lose flexibility. If this continues over time, you can develop atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.
Hardening of the arteries can make it more difficult for blood to circulate through the body properly. As a result, it can cause blood pressure to rise. In addition, atherosclerosis can make it more likely for cholesterol to accumulate in the arteries, leading to blockages. Due to the effects of the condition, people with atherosclerosis are more at risk for serious health problems like cardiovascular disease, heart attack, or stroke.
Vitamin K2 may provide some protection against atherosclerosis. When there's excess calcium in the body, the vitamin turns on the matrix GLA protein, which binds to calcium before it can become deposited in the arteries. Simply put, vitamin K2 helps more calcium end up in your bones and less calcium find its way into your arteries.
Does Vitamin K Cause Side Effects?
Based on clinical studies, vitamin K supplements are safe for most people. However, supplements can interact with certain medications. The most severe drug interaction occurs in people taking blood thinners like warfarin. Increasing or decreasing vitamin K intake could cause bleeding or blood clots. In addition, some antibiotics and other medications may interact with vitamin K. As a result, it's a good idea to talk to your medical provider before you begin taking a vitamin K2 supplement to support bone and heart health.
Should I Take Vitamin K2 If I'm Taking Vitamin D3?
Taking calcium supplements only does a small amount of good if your body can't correctly put the mineral to use. The human body needs vitamin D for calcium absorption, so medical providers often recommend that people take one form of the vitamin called vitamin D3 with their calcium supplements. Vitamin K2 can complete a supplementation plan by helping ensure that calcium gets distributed properly once absorbed to promote bone and heart health.
Body Kitchen Vitamin D + K2 makes it simple to reap the benefits of both vitamin D3 and K2. Our supplement contains menaquinone 7, the form of vitamin K2 that has been shown to remain active in the body for longer. Unlike some other vitamin D3 and K2 supplements on the market, our capsules are vegan and contain no GMOs, and a daily serving is just one capsule to make supplementation even easier.