Vitamin K2

All About Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 is a newly discovered essential vitamin that is building a significant body of clinical evidence demonstrating its crucial significance in the fight against the most common and devastating diseases of our time: osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. These conditions contribute to difficulties in the functioning of society and are the most common cause of death worldwide, and both can be linked to a deficiency in vitamin K2.

The Vitamin K family consists of a group of fat-soluble vitamins that are divided into vitamin K1 – one molecule (phylloquinone) – and vitamin K2 – a group of molecules (menaquinones). Menaquinones is the group name for a family of related compounds, generally subdivided into short-chain menaquinones (with MK-4 as the most nutritionally important) and the long-chain menquinones, of which MK-7, MK-8, and MK-9 are the most nutritionally recognized.

Vitamins K1 and K2 are similar in structure: they share a “quinone” ring, but differ in the length and degree of saturation of the carbon tail and the number of side chains.1 The number of side chains (isoprene units) is indicated in the name of the particular menaquinone. For example, MK-7 denotes 7 isoprene units attached to the carbon tail; and this influences the transport to different target tissues.

The mechanism of action of vitamin K2 is similar to vitamin K1. K vitamins play an essential role as cofactor for the enzyme γ-glutamyl carboxylase, which is involved in carboxylation of the vitamin K-dependent proteins – specifically, the conversion of peptide-bound glutamic acid (Glu) to γ-carboxy glutamic acid (Gla).

Carboxylation of vitamin K-dependent proteins (called Gla-proteins) serves as a recycling pathway to recover vitamin K from its epoxide metabolite (KO) for reuse in carboxylation. Several human Gla-containing proteins synthesized in several different types of tissues have been discovered.

Vitamin K2’s isoprenoid units (ex. MK-7) are geranylgeranyl derivatives that influence bone function via another mechanism than as a cofactor for enzymatic carboxylation. The mechanism for the anti-osteoclastogenic properties of vitamin K been suggested that the geranylgeranyl-like side chain on vitamin K2 may induce apoptosis of osteoclasts in vitro or may act by down-regulating protein kinase C.

MK-7 affects the function of the osteoblasts by inducing the expression of osteoblast-specific genes [ex: osteocalcin, osteoprotegerin, receptor activator of NF-kB (RANK) and RANK ligand (RANKL)]. Interestingly, in contrast to what was observed for vitamin K2, the scientists failed to identify any anti-NF-κB activity associated with vitamin K1.



The Human Diet Evolution.

The Human Diet Evolution & its Impact on Human Health

The evolution of the human diet over the past 10,000 years from a Paleolithic diet to our current modern pattern of intake has resulted in profound changes, not only in our in feeding behavior, but our overall health.

Shifts have occurred from diets high in fruits, vegetables, lean meats and seafood, to processed foods high in sodium and hydrogenated fats, and low in fiber. These changes have left bodies void of the nutrients that provide the foundation for health, resulting in an increase in obesity and chronic disease.

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The Human Diet Evolution.

Paleolithic Diet

2.5 million years ago, the principal components of the Paleolithic diet were wild animal-sourced and uncultivated plant-sourced foods, such as lean meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, roots, eggs and nuts.

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The Human Diet Evolution.

Fire It Up

The first most significant invention was controlled fire. Around 25000 BC, humans used controlled fire to char meat; by 29000 BC, they started boiling water. This marked their beginning of food manipulation and, hence, their diets.

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The Human Diet Evolution.

Growing Opportunities

Humans began domesticating animals between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago. Managing the whereabouts of docile creatures provided a reliable source of nutrition.

Meanwhile, agriculture was invented around 8000 BC, which allowed humans to control food sources via planting and harvesting. In time they began experimenting with plant species, planting only the choicest specimens and weeding out undesirable characteristics.

This marked the beginning of the end of man’s hunter-gatherer, food-as-survival history.

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The Human Diet Evolution.

Variety No More

Gradually the diversity of foods in the diet began to decline as our ancestors limited themselves to a few high-yielding species such as wheat and rice. By 1900, monoculture becomes the norm, and with it the development of food industrialization.

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The Human Diet Evolution.

Manmade Fats

In 1902, scientist Wilhelm Normann found that liquid oils could be hydrogenated to form trans fatty acids. With Proctor & Gamble’s introduction of Crisco vegetable shortening, the first manufactured trans fat product hit grocery store shelves in 1911, leading to trans fat being the first manmade fat to join the food supply.

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The Human Diet Evolution.

Chemical Influence

Natural farming processes, which were developed over 1000s of years, are abandoned for scientific farming processes.

In 1910, the first legislation is passed providing federal authority for regulating pesticides. While fertilizers and pesticides allowed for more efficient growing, the former comes at a cost of micronutrient depletion of the soil (i.e., selenium), the latter having toxic effects on the human system.

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The Human Diet Evolution.

Nutrient-Depleting Firsts

1940 – The first McDonald’s restaurant opens

1947 – The first microwave is sold

1949 – The first frozen tv dinner is sold

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The Human Diet Evolution.

Feedlot Frenzy

The first cattle feedlots are opened in 1950. The poultry industry began moving chickens off pasture and into buildings later that decade. The dairy industry followed suit in the 1960s, and pork producers in the 1970s.

Removing animals from pasture meant we inadvertently remove vitamin K2 from common dietary staples, such as butter, eggs, cheese and meat, as grass-grazing animals convert vitamin K1 to vitamin K2 (MK-4).

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The Human Diet Evolution.

More But Less

Since 1980, populations have been consuming an extra 300 calories a day, but roughly 92% of them in the form of sugars, fats and mostly refined. By 1990, “natural” is an unrecognizable food characteristic due to the rampant use of Artificial Sweeteners and Flavoring in food and drink, as well as enormous portion sizes.

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The Human Diet Evolution.

Chemical Consequences

The 1990s also saw an increased use of hormones and steroids in cattle feed, while the new millennia saw that 80% of antibiotics in the U.S. are found in food, with 28.9 million pounds going to livestock. (But humans weren’t left out: they received a staggering 7.3 million pounds of antibiotics.)

Overuse of antibiotics has led to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which has depleted the body of the good bacteria in the gut. Not only has this led to intestinal discomfort and weakened immune systems, but it has also directly contributed to the obesity epidemic.

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The Human Diet Evolution.

Weighty Worries

Today, more than one-third of the U.S. adults are considered obese. Worldwide, obesity has nearly doubled since 1980.

More alarming: By 1989, children’s diets show major deficiencies in minerals and key vitamins, such as iron and vitamin K. Factors such as these have contributed to more than 40 million children under the age of 5 being overweight in 2011.

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The Human Diet Evolution.

The Verdict

Since abandoning natural farming process, the human diet has changed dramatically. These changes have run in parallel with changes in lifestyle and disease patterns. Poor nutrition creates major problems for the young as they grow older, particularly in terms of chronic disease patterns related to a breaking down of the immune system. Dietary intakes have implications for the health of the bone and the cardiovascular systems in later adulthood.

The evolution of our diet may provide answers to the emergence of modern disease, just as the correction of (or supplementation to) our modern diets could hold the key to treating or preventing many of these chronic conditions.

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K2 myths and facts

Top 10 Terms to Know Now


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