More About Vitamin K
Never heard of vitamin K? You’re not alone. Similar to vitamins such as E and A, vitamin K is actually a group of fat-soluble vitamins, with K-1 (phylloquinone) and K-2 (a family of menaquinones) being the most relevant for human health.
Vitamin K-1 is found in a wide variety of green, leafy vegetables due to its role in photosynthesis, and converted within the body to K-2, but can also be converted to K-2 by microbial fermentation. Vitamin K-2 is produced by bacteria, including some of the probiotic bacteria found in the human intestinal tract.
Vitamin K is important for a few critical enzymatic functions in the body. It’s necessary for normal coagulation, or clotting, of blood, as well as for the proper transport and storage of calcium throughout the body. Vitamin K is therefore important for bone health, a role only recently identified through research. In particular, it’s been shown to play a pivotal role in vascular elasticity.
MK-4 and MK-7
Vitamin K-2, or menaquinone, has a number of subtypes, but researchers have focused on two particular subtypes – menaquinone-4 (MK-4) and menaquinone-7 (MK-7). Unlike MK-4, which is produced by conversion of vitamin K-1 in the pancreas and other organs, MK-7 is not synthesized in human tissue. Recent studies indicate it may be produced by intestinal bacteria from vitamin K-1 (phylloquinone), but more research is needed. Since the MK-7 subtype has been found to have benefits for both skeletal and cardiovascular health, a supplemental form is ideal for obtaining this important but little-known nutrient until more research is available.
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