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How can vitamin K2 help your bones and heart?

Thrive Carolinas / Health Hints  / How can vitamin K2 help your bones and heart?

How can vitamin K2 help your bones and heart?

By: Harlee Palmer MSW, PA-C

Vitamin K comes in different forms; K1 and K2. K1, a phylloquinone is primarily found in plant foods, such as leafy greens and is used to make proteins involved in blood clotting.

K2, refers to a collection of structures called menaquinones, abbreviated as MK with a number attached. MK 4, MK 7.One might see this distinction on a supplement bottle. K2 is made in small amounts by gut bacteria and is also found in fermented food and animal products. Recent research has explored its role in bone health, cardiovascular health and insulin sensitivity.
The menaquinones getting the most attention are MK 4 and MK 7. MK7 shows promise for bone health by activating a protein called osteocalcin. Osteocalcin helps get calcium into the places we need it, like bones and teeth. Vitamin K works together with vitamin D to ensure effective calcium absorption. Osteocalcin also promotes insulin sensitivity which stabilizes blood sugar. The other type of K2 – MK4 is more active in soft tissue and activates other proteins that remove calcium from the places we don’t want it – namely our cardiovascular system.

K1 is found in leafy greens and cruciferous veggies like brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli.

K2 is found in fermented food like sauerkraut and kefir.

The largest amount of K2 can be found in Natto, a Japanese fermented soybean dish. Just 1/3 oz contains more than the daily required intake! Animal products with K2 include dark meat chicken, egg yolks, pork, and hard cheese. Be careful to select products that are grass-fed, pasture-raised because we want the animals to have eaten their greens, not grains!
Stay tuned for more nutritional tips this month and let us know if you try Natto (found at international grocers and online).

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Stephen Fogg

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