Vitamin K is the lesser known of the letter vitamins, but not any less important. Vitamin K is a group of vitamins responsible for activating proteins in the body that are involved in normal blood clotting and bone health.* Vitamin K deficiency is rare in adults, but some populations are more at risk, including newborns and individuals taking antibiotics that interfere with absorption. Vitamin K is comprised of two main types: K1 and K2. While they are in the same group, these compounds are not found in the same food groups and are processed differently by the body.
Most Vitamin K supplements come in the form of Vitamin K2, which is an active form of Vitamin K. Vitamin K2 activates enzymes that are responsible for bone formation, helping to maintain bone mass and strength.* In addition to bone health, Vitamin K2 supports joint health, and is necessary for the formation of prothrombin, which is required for normal blood clotting.* Vitamin K2 is important for bone health, but not readily found in the diet. Some sources include egg yolks, beef liver, cheese curds, and dark meat chicken.
A clinical trial conducted in China looked at the effects of Vitamin K2 on bone density in adults ages 50 to 75.1 Subjects received 90 mcg of K2 or a placebo every day for 1 year. At the end of the trial, it was found that women receiving K2 had improved bone density status as measured at the top of the thigh bone as compared to the woman receiving a placebo.* A second study found that K2 supplementation helped increase the conversion of proteins involved in bone formation to their active state.2*
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1. Zheng et al. (2020). Effect of Low-Dose Vitamin K2 Supplementation on Bone Mineral Density in Middle-Aged and Elderly Chinese: A Randomized Controlled Study.
2. Theuwissen, E. et al. Low-dose menaquinone-7 supplementation improved extra-hepatic vitamin K status, but had no effect on thrombin generation in healthy subjects. British Journal of Nutrition. 2012. page 1-6.