Vitamin K2 and Bone Resorption

Vitamins are molecules that we need in small quantities to survive. We get most of the vitamins we need from food. This is because our bodies either produce too little or no vitamins. Every living thing has a unique need for vitamins. For example, dogs do not need to take it from food, as they can produce vitamin C in their bodies. If a person does not take vitamin C with nutrition, he encounters very serious health problems, and these problems can even lead to death. Vitamin K2 is one of the vitamins that we need to take with food. It has a role in blood coagulation, bone metabolism and the realization of many other physiological functions.

Types of Vitamin K

There are two types of vitamin K, K1 and K2. A daily intake of 120 micrograms of vitamin K for men and 90 micrograms of vitamin K for women is recommended (1). However, until recently, no special emphasis was placed on the subtypes of vitamin K in healthy diet recommendations. In the past, the differences between vitamin K1 and K2 were not considered much, but in recent years, research on this subject has increased. In the light of new information, vitamin K2 seems to play an important role in the prevention of osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases.

Vitamin K is fat-soluble molecules. Although fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the body to some extent, the store of vitamin K is actually quite limited and it can often be felt when it is not taken regularly with food. Vitamin K1, also called phylloquinone, accounts for 90% of daily vitamin K consumption; It is mainly found in green leafy vegetables. Vitamin K2, also called menaquinone, is mainly produced by bacteria. It is most commonly found in fermented foods, meat and dairy products.

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K2 Vitamins

Vitamin K2 has subtypes from MK-4 to MK-13, depending on the length of the side chains of the molecule. For example, MK-4 type is the most common in meat products. A traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soy, which is seen to be the food richest in vitamin K, has the MK-7 type. Vitamin K2 is also produced by bacteria in our own gut. However, how this K2 is absorbed and to what extent it is used in the body is not fully understood yet.

Animals produce vitamin K2 from the K1 they get from green grass. However, animals may not have enough vitamin K2, as the emphasis is on grain feeding instead of grass feeding in animal husbandry. Humans obtain K2 most from animal foods. It is thought that vitamin K2 deficiency in meat products also causes K2 deficiency in humans.

Where to Find Vitamin K2

Natto, a Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans, is the food richest in vitamin K2. Foie gras, hard and soft cheeses, egg yolk, butter, chicken liver, chicken breast, ground beef are foods rich in vitamin K2. Some amounts are also found in whole milk, salmon, and egg whites. On the other hand, there is no vitamin K2 in skimmed milk and meat products.

Importance of Vitamin K2 for Health

Vitamin K2 has been the subject of numerous studies in terms of its effects on health. Although it cannot be said that all its functions are still known, its benefits especially in terms of osteoporosis and heart health come to the fore.

Vitamin K2 and Bone Resorption

Vitamin K is required for the proteins produced by osteoblasts, which are bone-forming cells, to be activated. K2 attracts calcium to the bone tissue and, when given with vitamin D3, prevents bone destruction. In this respect, the MK-7 type is particularly effective. When vitamin K2 is given alone or in combination with vitamin D and calcium, it provides a significant decrease in the risk of fractures and helps to maintain bone density in patients with osteoporosis (2). Vitamin K1 supplementation was not found to be very effective in these parameters. It is thought that vitamin K2 supplementation together with calcium and vitamin D may be close to bisphosphonates, which are classical bone resorption treatments (3).

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Effect on Heart Health

K2 activates the matrix GIa protein (MGP), which prevents calcium deposition in blood vessels. If enough K2 is available, calcium is liberated for use elsewhere; It accumulates in K2 deficiency. Calcium accumulation causes vascular wall calcification or calcification of the vein as it is known among the people. A diet rich in vitamin K2 has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Vitamin K1 did not show such an effect.

How to Measure Vitamin K

Vitamin K level is not routinely checked in blood tests. In some patients with blood coagulation disorders and taking blood thinners, it may be meaningful to measure the level of vitamin K1. One of the parameters that can change with vitamin K1 intake is prothrombin time, which is a measure of blood clotting. In severe vitamin K deficiency, there is a tendency to bleeding, blood coagulation is impaired. The risk of osteoporosis increases in vitamin K deficiency. The fasting level of vitamin K1 in healthy people has been determined as 0.29-2.64 nanomol/liter. However, it is not clear whether measurement in the blood is an appropriate method for diagnosing vitamin K deficiency. Because these measurements do not take vitamin K2 into account. Normal blood levels for vitamin K2 are still unknown.

In Japan and some Asian countries, vitamin K supplements (45 mg MK-4) are used for the treatment of osteoporosis (4). In the European Union, it is allowed to deduct the statement that there is a causal relationship between nutrition, adequate vitamin K intake and bone health on vitamin K supplements (5). In the USA, such a claim for vitamin K has not yet become legal.

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