Vitamin K2 is an essential nutrient that plays several important roles in the human body. In fact, some researchers believe that vitamin K2 is a missing link between diet and several of the world’s most deadly chronic diseases.
In this article, you’ll learn what vitamin K2 is and some of the essential benefits of this nutrient based on the latest scientific research.
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What is Vitamin K2?
Vitamin K2 is a nutrient that’s closely related to vitamin K1. Both are important for human health, but they have different bodily functions.
Vitamin K1 is primarily found in plants and is responsible for blood clotting. Vitamin K2, on the other hand, is found in animal-based foods and plays a role in bone and heart health.
Foods High in Vitamin K2
If you’re looking to increase your intake of vitamin K2, several foods are rich in this nutrient. Some of the best sources include:
- Beef liver
Vitamin K2 Benefits
As previously mentioned, vitamin K2 has several vital roles in the human body. Here are some of the most well-established benefits of this nutrient:
- Promotes a healthy heart
- Helps build strong bones
- May help prevent cancer
- Improves dental health
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Reduces mortality
- Reduces inflammation
- Prevents varicose veins
- Promotes brain function
- Promotes healthy skin
As you can see, vitamin K2 is an essential nutrient with many health benefits. Keep reading to learn more about how this nutrient can improve your health.
1. Promotes a Healthy Heart
Cardiac arrest and heart disease are two of life’s most frightening illnesses. But there’s good news: vitamin K2 can help protect your heart.
Studies have shown that this nutrient can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 9% for every ten micrograms consumed daily. This occurs because consuming foods rich in vitamin K2 helps break down calcium deposits and prevents fatty materials from forming in the arteries.
In addition, vitamin K2 can also help prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing arterial stiffness. This is because the nutrient helps maintain elasticity in the arteries, which is essential for proper blood flow.
Multiple studies have supported this research, which is why you may consider adding more foods high in vitamin K2 to your diet.
2. Helps Build Strong Bones
As we grow older, a significant health problem we face is fragile bones. This is because our bodies can no longer absorb calcium efficiently, leading to a higher risk of fractures.
But vitamin K2 may be able to help. This is because it activates a protein called osteocalcin, which helps calcium bind to the bone. In addition, vitamin K2 has also been shown to increase bone mineral density and reduce the risk of fractures.
A three-year study on women past menopause showed a slight decrease in age-related bone and mineral density. A separate study showed that the intake of vitamin K2 reduced spinal injury instances by 60%, hip injuries by 77%, and non-spinal related injuries by 81%.
Therefore, if you want stronger bones, you may consider consuming more foods rich in vitamin K2.
3. May Help Prevent Cancer
A perfect world free of killer diseases like cancer would be a dream come true. Unfortunately, cancer is a harsh reality that we all have to face.
However, it’s possible that the foods we eat can potentially help us prevent this disease.
Some researchers believe that vitamin K2 contains anticancer properties, with one study showing a 63% reduction rate in advanced prostate cancer. It also shows overall survival and reduced recurrence of liver cancer.
Although more research is needed in this area, the potential cancer-preventing benefits of vitamin K2 are promising. This is especially true if you’re in the high-risk category; therefore, consuming more of this vitamin may help reduce your chances of getting cancer later in life.
4. Improves Dental Health
Dental health is often overlooked, but it’s an essential aspect of overall health. Poor dental hygiene can lead to cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Luckily, vitamin K2 may be able to help. This is because it helps promote calcium absorption and prevents demineralization of the teeth.
One study looked at how vitamin K2 activates osteocalcin, a protein essential for dental health. It promotes the production of dentin, which is the calcium-containing tissue found below tooth enamel.
In addition, vitamin K2 is also believed to help reduce gum inflammation and bleeding. So, if you’re looking for a way to improve your dental health, vitamin K2 may be what you’re looking for.
5. Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. When insulin sensitivity is impaired, it can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Vitamin K2 has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which is essential for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
A study was performed on a group of men who were given vitamin K2 for four weeks. The results showed improved insulin sensitivity due to osteocalcin metabolism.
In addition, another study showed that vitamin K2 improved insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes patients. More research is needed in this area, but the results are promising regarding improving insulin sensitivity and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
6. Reduces Mortality
Mortality is a scary word, but it’s another harsh reality that we all must face. While you can’t expect to live forever, consuming certain vitamins and minerals may help you live a longer and healthier life.
Vitamin K2 is one of those vitamins.
A study found that vitamin K2 may reduce the risk of death from all causes. This includes some of the most deadly chronic conditions, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
7. Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is a common problem that can lead to various health problems. Some of the most common conditions associated with inflammation include arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and asthma.
A high intake of vitamin K2 has been shown to help reduce inflammation. This claim is supported by a study that was performed on women with rheumatoid arthritis. The results showed that vitamin K2 has the potential to reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of the disease.
Continuous research on this topic is being performed, but the current results are promising regarding the anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin K2.
8. Prevents Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are a common problem, especially as we age. They’re usually harmless, but they can be painful and unsightly.
Vitamin K2 has been shown to help prevent and reduce the appearance of varicose veins. Researchers found that this mineral helps prevent calcification in the arteries. This, in turn, helps improve circulation and prevent the formation of varicose veins before they occur.
9. Promotes Brain Function
Brain function is essential for overall health. This is because the brain controls everything from your thoughts and emotions to your movement and coordination.
As we age, our brain activity tends to decline. This can lead to problems with memory, focus, and learning. Luckily, vitamin K2 may be able to prevent age-related cognitive decline.
One study showed that vitamin K2 reduces the risk and rate of progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior.
The results of this study are promising, which is why you may consider consuming more vitamin K2 to keep your brain healthy as you age.
10. Promotes Healthy Skin
Did you know that skin is the largest organ in the human body? This means that it’s essential to maintain healthy skin for your overall health.
The skin is composed of collagen and elastin, two proteins essential for skin health. A study found that when the skin lacks vitamin K2, elastin is calcified, resulting in wrinkles and other signs of aging.
However, there’s a simple solution. You can keep your skin looking young and healthy by consuming more vitamin K2 in your diet.
Vitamin K2 is an often overlooked nutrient, but it’s essential for overall health. This vitamin helps to keep your bones strong, your heart healthy, and your skin looking young.
It also has the potential to prevent cancer, reduce inflammation, and improve brain function. If you do not already include vitamin K2 in your diet, now is the time to start. You can find this nutrient in cheese, eggs, and certain fermented foods.
You can also consider taking a supplement to ensure you get enough vitamin K2 in your diet. Speak to your doctor about the best way to include this nutrient in your diet to reap the maximum benefits. Thanks for reading!
John Landry, BS, RRT
John Landry, a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, has a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. He’s passionate about using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.