Medically Reviewed By Elizabeth A. Swick, MS, RDN
Vitamin D and K2 (MK7) Benefits and Deficiency Symptoms
Good health begins with a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals. When you don't get enough of these essential nutrients to meet your body's needs, unpleasant symptoms can arise. Vitamin K and vitamin D are two nutrients that adults in the United States often do not get enough from diet alone. Read on to learn more about the importance of vitamin D and vitamin K benefits.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient sometimes referred to as calciferol. Your body manufactures the vitamin in response to exposure to the ultraviolet energy of the sun.
What Does Vitamin D Do?
You often hear of people taking vitamin D for bones. In addition to vitamin D bone health benefits, the nutrient is required for proper muscle function, nerve signaling, and immune system activities.
What Is the Role of Vitamin D in Bone Development?
Studies into the link between vitamin D and bone health have determined that your body requires nutrients to absorb and utilize calcium properly. The mineral calcium is an essential building block of healthy bones. Science has determined that 99 percent of the distribution of calcium in the human body is found in bones. Without enough calcium, your bones can become brittle and break, and vitamin D deficiencies can lead to reductions in calcium absorption. As a result, vitamin D and bones that are strong and healthy are integrally linked.
What Are Some Vitamin D Benefits?
Although more research is needed, early studies indicate that vitamin D may be beneficial for:
- Reducing the risk of osteoporosis
- Protecting the cardiovascular system
- Easing symptoms of depression
- Diminishing symptoms of multiple sclerosis
- Regulating blood sugar levels
Who Is at Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency?
Individuals who spend most of their time indoors are at an increased risk for vitamin D deficiencies. Older adults, individuals with dark skin, those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, and people who have conditions that interfere with fat absorption are also more likely to be vitamin D deficient.
What Are Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms?
Low vitamin D symptoms include:
- Frequent illness and infections
- Feelings of tiredness and fatigue
- Bone pain and bone loss
- Back and muscle pain
- Long periods of depression
- Slow wound healing
- Hair loss
What Is Vitamin D3?
Vitamin D3 is a form of calciferol used in vitamin D supplement products. It is sometimes referred to by its scientific name, cholecalciferol. Early findings of studies suggest that vitamin D3 may raise vitamin D levels in the body more than other forms of vitamin D used in supplements.
How Much Vitamin D Should I Take?
The recommended daily amount of vitamin D for adults aged 19 to 70 years is 15 micrograms or 600 IU. Older adults are advised to take 20 micrograms or 800 IU.
What Is Vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a nutrient that is required by the human body. Unlike vitamin D, vitamin K is not manufactured by your glands or organs. You must get your body's supply of the nutrient from the foods you eat. Green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, blueberries, figs, cheese, eggs, meat, and soybeans are all rich in the nutrient.
What Does Vitamin K Do?
Vitamin K performs a variety of tasks in the human body. It is needed for the activation of an important hormone called osteocalcin. In addition, vitamin K helps the blood clot following a wound or injury.
What Is Osteocalcin?
Osteocalcin is a hormone that transports calcium and minerals into your teeth and bones. Deficiencies of vitamin K can reduce osteocalcin function, which in turn can contribute to bone loss and dental problems. Vitamin K and calcium are therefore intertwined. For your body to properly use calcium derived from the foods you eat and supplements you take, you must have an adequate supply of vitamin K.
What Is Vitamin K Good For?
Research suggests that vitamin K may:
- Minimize the risk of osteoporosis
- Lower the likelihood of heart disease, kidney stones, stroke, and some forms of cancer
- Address varicose veins
- Promote more youthful-looking skin
- Boost exercise performance
- Enhance blood sugar regulation in people with type II diabetes
- Support a proper hormonal balance in people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Benefit both male and female fertility
Who Might Need a Vitamin K Supplement?
People who are most likely to be deficient in vitamin K include those who have:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Celiac disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Short bowel syndrome
- Undergone weight loss surgery
What Are Vitamin K Deficiency Symptoms?
A lack of vitamin K can cause easy bruising and excessive bleeding following wounds. Tooth, bone, and back pain may also occur in people who have severe vitamin K deficiency.
What Is the Best Dosage to Get the Health Benefits of Vitamin K?
It is generally recommended that men aged 19 years and older get 120 micrograms of vitamin K per day and that women in the same age group receive 90 micrograms of vitamin K daily. If you take certain medications like the blood thinner warfarin or have chronic conditions, you may require more or less vitamin K.
What Is Vitamin K2 (MK7)?
Vitamin K2 is a form of vitamin K used in dietary supplements. Its scientific name is menaquinone-7. Some people call K2 MK7 vitamin simply MK7 for short. Vitamin K2 benefits are the same as those of vitamin K.
Why Do People Take Vitamin K2 and D3 Supplements?
Many people take vitamin D3 and K2 because they struggle to get enough essential vitamins through diet alone or wish to increase their intake to address a medical condition. Osteocalcin supplements are also available to boost the body's natural supply of the hormone. If you are interested in taking a vitamin K2 or D3 supplement to avoid deficiency, check out brands like Body Kitchen. They produce an excellent D + K2 formula using clinically-studied patents.Also talk to your medical provider. They can recommend the proper dosage for your specific nutritional needs.