Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is best known for its critical role in the blood clotting process. However, scientists have since uncovered compelling evidence that vitamin K is absolutely essential to building strong bones and preventing heart disease.
It appears that the Japanese have long known the power of vitamin K2 to maintain or restore bone health. In some regions of Japan, a staple dish called “natto,” or fermented soybean, frequently eaten several times a week, is very rich in vitamin K2. People living where this dish is eaten have extremely high blood levels of vitamin K2 accompanied by less osteoporosis and bone fractures. These findings have been supported by clinical trials, in which vitamin K2 has been shown to successfully reduce the incidence of bone fractures. It has also been determined that vitamin K2 has a supportive effect on bone quality during osteoporosis treatment.
How Does it Work?
Scientists have found that without vitamin K2, calcium regulation is disrupted. In fact, low levels of vitamin K2 are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis. It is known that people with a lack of calcium in their bones are more likely to possess an excess of calcium in their arteries, and vice versa. The resulting lack of calcium in bone can lead to osteoporosis, while excess calcium in the arterial wall can lead to coronary heart disease.
Vitamin K1 occurs naturally in green leafy vegetables, whereas vitamin K2 is found in relatively few foods. Organic meats, egg yolks, and the Japanese condiment “natto,” are all good sources of vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is also found in modest quantities in traditionally fermented cheeses, in particular, Swiss and Jarlsberg. In the absence of these foods, supplementation is likely your best bet. Vitamin K2 should be taken with fat since it is fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed properly without it.