Vitamin K2 is one of the most important vitamins you likely don’t have in your diet. It was only discovered relatively recently. It works as an activator in the body that turns on osteocalcin. It’s been linked to strengthening bones, reducing the risk of many diseases, and has even been tied to curing cavities.
Vitamin K2 comes in different forms. Each form is its own short-chain menaquinones. MK-4 is the most important of these chains, but MK-7, MK-8, and MK-9 are also nutritionally beneficial. Each chain starts the same, but they differ in the length of the carbon tail, and the number of side chains.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t getting this important vitamin in their diet. It’s hard to attain, unless you’re eating products from grass-fed cows, or taking a supplement. This is why vitamin K2 makes Bulletproof’s list of 10 Supplements Everyone Needs.
This newly discovered vitamin still has many health professionals questioning how much we should be getting on a daily basis. Health Canada’s RDA only lists vitamin K. There is no breakdown of the difference in K1 and K2, let alone MK-4 or MK-7. This is because it’s still unclear how much K2 we need. There is an astounding discrepancy between Health Canada’s RDA and the supplement lists provided by Bulletproof:
Health Canada’s Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA): 120μg/day of vitamin K for adult males, and 90μg/day for adult females
Bulletproof Recommended Supplement Dose: 2,000μg / day (100μg MK-7 form)
So if medical professionals are still trying to figure out how much vitamin K2 we need, why does Bulletproof recommend such high doses?
Here’s a look at what Bulletproof has to say about vitamin K2:
Unless you grew up eating only grass-fed meat and raw milk – you’re deficient in vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is a fat soluble vitamin involved in calcium metabolism. Excess calcium is deposited in arteries, leading to calcification and decreased vascular function. This is why vitamin K2 prevents atherosclerosis and heart attacks and strengthens bones.
Vitamin K1 is the kind of vitamin K found in leafy vegetables, and vitamin K2 is the kind found in grass-fed animal products. Humans don’t convert vitamin K1 into K2 efficiently. Ruminant animals like cows and sheep convert K1 into K2 in their stomachs. This is another reason you should eat grass-fed animals because they can only get K1 from grass – not grains.
There are two subsets of vitamin K2: MK-4, and MK-7. MK-4 is the kind shown to produce the most benefit, but MK-7 is still important. You should consume a total of at least 2,000 μg per day of K2, at least 100 μg of which should be the MK-7 form.
Dose: 2,000 μg / day (100 μg MK-7 form)
Forms: MK-4, and MK-7
Time Taken: Doesn’t really matter, but it’s best to take this with vitamin D, so morning is best.
Recommended Brand: Life Extension
Here is an in depth look at vitamin K2, as presented by Dr. John E Whitcomb. Dr. Whitcomb is board certified in Holistic and Integrative Medicine. We’ve outlined his main points and have provided links to medical studies that back his argument.
Vitamin K2 activates protein responsible for calcium and phosphorus deposition in bones and teeth. It decides where calcium should and shouldn’t go.
K2 works as an activator. 90% of uncarboxylated osteocalcin is not being activated. The body needs K2 to activate this protein.
At present, we don’t know how much vitamin K2 to take. The discovery of K2 and what it does is so new that medical professional are still determining a good recommended dosage. Research hasn’t found an upper limit yet, so it is hard to say when you’re reaching a maximum benefit. The only way to measure how much vitamin K2 you have is by checking your osteocalcin levels to see what percentage is activated.
While doctors may not know how much we need, they can easily recognize vitamin K2 deficiency by low levels of activated osteocalcin. Unfortunately, vitamin K2 deficiency is almost universal because it’s hard to get in a western diet.
Danish scientist, Henrik Dam discovered Vitamin K in 1929. At around the same time, American dentist, Weston Price was researching the link between diet and tooth decay (along with many other diseases). He asked how modern humans developed cavities and crooked teeth. In search of an answer, Price traveled the globe and found a link between bad teeth and western food. While traveling abroad he saw people with beautifully straight teeth, without cavities. He only saw consistent dental issues within western societies. He noted that other societies had a wider, more symmetrical face, allowing teeth the room to fall straight. Again and again, he saw a direct correlation in dental health and diet. He found the issue lied in western food. By western food, we mean food that can be stored and lasts a long time (sugar, flour, rice, processed vegetable fats). This food can mean trouble.
Weston Price then developed Activator X. It was made from the butterfat of cows eating green grass, mixed with cod liver oil. Price called this the cure for cavities. What Price didn’t know was that his Activator X was filled with vitamin K2, and this was his wonder cure.
Now we know that K2 activates osteocalcin. This is critical for bone growth and structure. As already mentioned it helps with proper face development. Active osteocalcin helps develop a more broad, symmetrical face in utero and during important growing years. It tells calcium where it is needed and where to go.
Calcium has received mixed reviews in recent years. You are either told that you need to take calcium to strengthen bones, or you are told that too much calcium leads to heart disease. Both are true.
Women who take calcium for osteoporosis are at a greater risk of experiencing a heart attack. It is resulting in too much calcium in the arteries, and not enough in the bones. Both are caused by insufficient levels of vitamin K2.
The plaque in arteries is 20% calcium. This is serious. Remember that calcium is what helps keep your bones strong. Now you have calcification in your arteries, which means the build up of calcium is becoming hard and making your blood vessels rigid like bone. This is when you become at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Luckily vitamin K2 activates the osteocalcin that is responsible for telling the calcium where to go. Osteocalcin can pull the calcium out of your blood vessels and put it in your bones where it belongs.
Unless recommended by your doctor, don’t take calcium. You get plenty of calcium from your diet. You need calcium, but most people eating western food are getting plenty of it. The problem is that if you aren’t getting the K2 to activate osteocalcin, your calcium won’t end up being used properly. If you are worried about weak bones talk to your doctor about adding K2 to your diet.
Vitamin K2 can also stop the curving process of the spine that comes with aging. K2 helps lead to strengthening bones and keeping them straight. It will not repair the damage of a bent spine, but it will stop it from getting worse. It will also work as a preventative if you start acquiring K2 early enough in life. It is never too late to add K2 to your diet.
Besides bones, K2 also protects your mouth, teeth, and gums. It has an antibiotic effect on the mouth that cures cavities. The activated osteocalcin strengthens and refills your teeth.
Osteocalcin is also important for the male reproduction system. It helps regulate testosterone levels and helps sperm survive.
The pancreas is another part of the body filled with osteocalcin, therefore when K2 is introduced with the body and activates the osteocalcin, it helps reduce insulin levels 20-36%. Lower levels of insulin mean you’re at less of a risk to develop type 2 diabetes.
Vitamin K has many other great health benefits. It helps make myelin sheath on nerve cells and cuts down on skin wrinkles and varicose veins. Vitamin K2 also helps brain function and has been shown to help prevent Alzheimer’s.
Vitamin K2 is made in cow mammary glands. When cows eat the high levels of vitamin K in green grass, they turn it into K2. That’s why you are not only what you eat, but you are what your food eats. Because K2 comes from grass-fed cows, it makes sense that you get this important nutrient in butter and cheese made from these grass fed cows. French and Dutch cheese are great sources of K2 because the cows in these countries regularly eat green grass. American cheese is likely made from grain fed cows, and won’t contain any K2.
Vitamin K works with vitamins A and D. Vitamins have to work together. It is important to have all vitamins in your diet as they work off each other. Too much of one and not enough of another can have negative side effects. Consult your doctor and ask for bloodwork to make sure you’re staying within safe limits.
Good Whole Food Packed With Vitamin K2
As mentioned above grass fed butter, and cheese from grass-fed cows are good sources of vitamin K2. Unfortunately, it’s hard to measure how much vitamin K2 is actually in these products as it varies based on the diet of the cow. No matter how much K2 these products actually contain, these are your best bet at getting a natural source of this important vitamin.
Vitamin K2 Supplement
Life Extension, Super K with Advanced K2 Complex, is widely recommended and is the supplement of choice by Bulletproof. This is also what we take here at Good Whole Food. One softgel contains 1000μg K1, 1000μg K2 (as menaquinone-4), and 200μg K2 (as menaquinone-7). That means you are meeting your RDA with one pill. You’d need to take 2 softgels to reach the Bulletproof recommended dosage, but there is no scientific proof that you need that high of a dosage.
Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals. Please consult with a doctor before adding/changing your dosage of any supplement in your diet. Take any supplements at your own risk.