Vitamin K2 is vital for healthy bones, teeth, heart health, and nerve/brain health. However, this fat-soluble nutrient is largely missing from modern diets.
Unless you were raised eating ample amounts of raw butter and natto and drinking raw milk, you probably have not been getting enough K2. That’s okay, I didn’t either. I was raised on velveeta cheese and ritz crackers.
You may be thinking, wait, I get lots of vitamin K from leafy greens. But there’s a difference. That’s vitamin K1 (or phylloquinone). It is also important but the body only absorbs and uses a small amount of K1 (probably around 10% of the amount consumed).
K1 is important for blood clotting, but K2 offers SO much to overall health. It’s more helpful to think of them as separate, distinct nutrients.
Why is K2 so important?
- Do you like strong bones and teeth? K2 activates a protein called osetocalcin that shuttles calcium out of the blood and into the bones and teeth (where you want it!). (PMID: 15802772). K2 is one of our greatest protectors of bone health!
- K2 keeps calcium out of soft tissues by activating matrix gla-protein (MPG), preventing calcification. The Rotterdam study found that those with the highest intake of K2 had the lowest risk of artery calcification and the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease. (PMID: 15514282)
- Trouble with cavities and oral health? K2 to the rescue!
- Important for brain health and protective against neurodegenerative disease (PMID: 19027415)
- K2 plays a significant role in developing wide facial structures and jawlines and preventing dental deformities. This was repeatedly observed in Dr. Price’s research of the diets of populations consuming traditional, ancestral diets as opposed to a more grain-heavy western diet.
- K2 may even help reduce or prevent varicose veins (PMID: 11374034)
Can’t we convert vitamin K1 to vitamin K2?
You may have heard that we can convert K1 to K2.
While some animals are good at this, humans are not. (PMID: 15514282)
We need dietary or supplemental sources of K2 to have adequate amounts.
Food sources of Vitamin K2:
K2 is mostly found in animal foods (with the one exception of natto) because animals have the ability to synthesize it from the K1 in the grass they eat. This would also mean that foods from grain-fed animals have lower amounts of K2.
- Grass-fed raw butter
- Grass-fed raw cheese
- Egg yolks
- Fish eggs
- Grass-fed beef
- Pasture-raised chicken
While I’m all about taking a food-first approach, there are just some nutrients that we no longer getting enough of through diet. One of those is vitamin K2.
Even with consuming raw dairy, eggs, and meat, I find it difficult to reach an adequate amount of K2. For that reason, I choose to take it in supplement form. I like the K2 from Just Thrive. They have a great vitamin K2 supplement in a highly absorbable and useable form.
Which K2-rich food is your favorite? I’m going with raw butter and egg yolks!
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