Vitamin K2 has been making its appearance into the health and wellness community more and more over the past few years, and for very good reason. This form of vitamin K is proving in the scientific literature to have a wide array of health benefits. Some of the more famous studies have shown that vitamin K2 has a profound effect on bone health and proper calcium placement—meaning calcium doesn’t get deposited into places like arteries, kidney stones, etc. There is even a study that has proposed that vitamin K2 has the potential to remove calcium that has already been deposited in the arteries, thus allowing youthful elasticity to return them, which has profound implications on cardiovascular health.
More recently there have been additional studies showing that this vitamin actually plays a role in hormone levels as well. One of the proposed mechanisms of this is that it activates a series of enzymes in the bone, which go on to have a specific effect in the adrenal glands and sex organs. This series of enzymes is then able to take cholesterol and allow it to be transformed into other metabolites, like testosterone, thus increasing their production. Further studies involving mice have shown that induced deficiencies in vitamin K2 are associated with lower testosterone levels than the control group.
Now that we have talked briefly about the benefits of vitamin K2, let’s delve into how and where we can get it! In a perfect world, food would be the ideal source for all of our vitamins and minerals. However, due to the methods and effects of farming and raising livestock, much of our foods don’t have nearly the levels of vitamins and minerals that were present in them even 100 years ago. Nonetheless, some of the foods that have the highest concentration of vitamin K2 are the following:
- Cheeses — specifically gouda and brie
- Natto — a type of Japanese fermented soy bean
- Fermented foods — like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc.
- Offal — organ meat from grass-fed animals, like liver and heart
If those options don’t sound particularly palatable for daily consumption, supplementation can also be used. There are 2 different forms of vitamin K2: menaquinone-4 (MK-4) and menaquinone-7 (MK-7). MK-7 seems to be the better form of supplementation, according to research studies, primarily because it has a longer half-life, meaning it stays available in the bloodstream longer. So, how much should you take? A toxic dose of vitamin K2 has yet to be found, but the recommended dose is likely to be different depending on the desired effect. Doses of up to 45mg per day have been administered safely, but doses much smaller than that have been associated with clinical benefit. Generally, I recommend 200mcg of MK-7 per day, but you should always talk to your doctor to make sure that Internet advice is safe for you specifically.