What does vitamin K2 MK-7 do?
Proteins necessary for the transport of calcium are inactive until they react with vitamin K2. These proteins, the osteocalcins and MGP (matrix gla proteins), carry calcium from arteries, veins and soft tissue to bone, teeth and other sites. Studies and current literature suggest other conditions may benefit: diabetes, arthritis, brain and neurological health, cancer prevention, kidney disease, infertility, dental health and high cholesterol. It will be interesting to see what future research uncovers.
Vitamin K2, the missing link.
Vitamin K1 was discovered in 1929 by Henrik Dam, who discovered that vitamin K was responsible for coagulation. In 1945 Dr. Weston Price stumbled on another form of vitamin K, but he did not identify it beyond calling it “factor-X” and defining its benefit in dental health.This “factor” was later named vitamin K2. The issue with vitamin K2 is that its deficiency does not exhibit overt disease. Osteoporosis and calcification occur over long periods of time and, when discovered, the disease process is typically at an advanced stage. After large doses of calcium were encouraged for the prevention of osteoporosis, studies showed that actually osteoporosis did not decrease as anticipated. A secondary observation showed a simultaneous rise in arterial calcification. It took time for the two conditions to be linked and then more time to find the solution, vitamin K2.
The use of a Natto source:
Once interest in vitamin K2 grew, companies tried to manufacture the MK-7 molecule. The bio-active form of the molecule was found to be very difficult to produce. We describe the functional and dysfunctional forms on our ‘the science’ page.
Initially it was observed that Japanese women who ate natto, a fermented soy dish, had very low incidence of osteoporosis and good heart health. Natto is in fact the best food source of vitamin K2. As soon as this was understood, an industry grew making vitamin K2 from natto extracts. There are many who would rather not take a soy based product because of allergen concerns. These soy and later also chickpea derivatives are the result of fermentation followed by extraction. The molecules which result from this process are a mixture of cis and trans forms (in-active and active). In 2012 a company finally was able to produce the correctly formed molecule by organic synthesis, and they registered their patent. This is the source of our product.
What are other sources of vitamin K2?
If natto were common to our western diet, maybe only those who are allergic to soy would be reluctant to make it a part of their daily consumption. It is, however, not readily available and very few of us would like it.
There are other less concentrated food sources: eggs, dairy products, and certain fermented cheeses and organ meats (especially from grass-fed animals). But grass-fed sources are not easily found in our markets today either and the foods must nearly be consumed regularly.
This vitamin must be regularly replenished. Its half-life (the amount of time it is viable in the body) is only hours to days depending on the type of molecule. This means that a person needs to eat grass-fed dairy and/or meats daily to maintain sufficient levels.
Vitamin K1, from leafy green vegetables, can be converted to K2 by bacteria in the intestines. This is thought to be an inefficient process because only after K1 needs of the body are met, is any excess available for conversion to vitamin K2. The process is then dependent on healthy bacteria in the intestines.
Quality balanced food is always the best source of any nutrient. Today many men and women take calcium with vitamin D3 supplements, mainly for osteoporosis concerns. It was only after this practice became common that an increase of circulatory calcification was observed. Vitamin K2 was discovered to be the missing link in getting the calcium to a person’s bones. A rise in one or more nutrient appears to have lead to an imbalance and vitamin K2 is the offsetting factor required. Trying to get sufficient K2 from food sources is possible, but quite a challenge, especially when it needs to be consumed almost daily.