What is vitamin k2? Do you get enough of this important nutrient?
While the American Diet has traditionally been sorely lacking in nutrition, we all know that there are certain nutrients that we must obtain from our diet in order to enjoy abundant health. We all know about vitamins like vitamin C, or B vitamins, or even vitamin D, but one of the lesser known vitamins––albeit no less important––is vitamin K.
Vitamin K is a class of fat soluble nutrients that play a variety of factors in health; notably, they are important for blood clotting, and bone health. Vitamin K1 is present in a number of plant foods, including spinach, collard greens, kale and chard. (As fat soluble nutrients, it is important to eat these foods in conjunction with fats or oils, like olive oil or grass-fed butter, to properly absorb them.)
Even as abysmal as the American Diet can be be, most people are not lacking in vitamin K1, due in some part to how the body recycles this nutrient. It is rare to have vitamin K1 deficiencies.
Vitamin K2, however, is less common form of vitamin K.
Vitamin K is inherent in certain animal foods (liver and other organ meats, high fat dairy from grass-fed cows, egg yolks) and fermented foods like sauerkraut. These are good foods to include in your Kaufmann Diet, but it might be beneficial to consider supplementing with vitamin K2, considering the role it plays in good health. (As always, consult your physician before introducing a new supplement.)
Our body does turn some vitamin K1 into K2, but this process might not be particularly efficient, and many people are thought to be lacking in vitamin K2. This might have some important health implications:
Vitamin K2 protects against heart disease.
Vitamin K2 is thought to promote heart health in a key way by preventing the build up of calcifications in the arterial walls. These calcifications naturally occur as we age but stiffen the arteries and make blood flow less freely. This can ultimately lead to heart disease. Preliminary studies have been encouraging but more research is needed.
Vitamin K2 might support bone health.
While K2 might prevent calcification in the arteries, there is evidence that it might assist in keeping bones strong, as vitamin K2 plays an important role in calcium metabolism. This means vitamin K2 might be able to help prevent osteoporosis. Similarly, vitamin K2 might be an important factor in dental health.
Vitamin K2 might protect against cancer.
Some studies suggest vitamin K2 might prevent cancers like prostate cancer, and might be beneficial in the treatment of liver cancers.
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