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What Are the Benefits of Vitamin K2?

author image Clay McNight
Clay McNight is currently a nutrition writer with Demand Media Studios.
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin K2?
Although vitamin K is most known for its role in blood clotting, it also plays an important role in bone health. Photo Credit zona/iStock/Getty Images

Vitamin K-2 is a nutrient required for bone health and blood clotting. Although all forms of vitamin K may be useful for treating and preventing the same conditions, research has shown that vitamin K-2 may have special properties that make it useful in preventing coronary heart disease and prostate cancer, as well as improving bone health.

Background and Dietary Sources

What Are the Benefits of Vitamin K2?
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin stored in the liver. Photo Credit Dmitriy Shpilko/Hemera/Getty Images

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver. Its primary purpose is to aid in coagulation, or blood clotting. Vitamin K-1 is the only over-the-counter form of vitamin K available in the United States, though vitamin K-2 may be obtained through prescriptions. The body, however, is able to convert vitamin K-1 into K-2. Vitamin K deficiency is rare because the body is able to produce it. Dietary sources that are rich in vitamin K-2 include ground beef, salami, butter, egg yolks, hard cheese, natto and chicken breast. No recommended upper limit has been set for vitamin K intake.

Different Forms

What Are the Benefits of Vitamin K2?
There are different forms of vitamin K. Photo Credit Iromaya Images/Iromaya/Getty Images

Vitamin K comes in different forms, including K-1 (phylloquinone), K-2 (menaquinone) and K-3 (synthetic menadione). The Linus Pauling Institute notes that while vitamins K-1 and K-2 are nontoxic, vitamin K-3 can be toxic, which is why it is no longer used to treat vitamin K deficiency. MedlinePlus notes that K-1 is usually the most preferred form of vitamin K because it's stronger, works faster and is less toxic than other forms of vitamin K. Vitamin K-2, however, may have benefits of its own not available in vitamin K-1.

Preventative Health Properties of Vitamin K-2

What Are the Benefits of Vitamin K2?
Increasing vitamin K-2 consumption can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Photo Credit Spectral-Design/iStock/Getty Images

A 2004 study published in the "Journal of Nutrition" found that the risk of coronary heart disease mortality was reduced as vitamin K-2 consumption increased. The study concluded that vitamin K-2 may be useful in the prevention of coronary heart disease. These benefits were not seen with vitamin K-1. A 2013 study published in "Osteoporosis International" found that vitamin K-2 supplements could help postmenopausal women prevent bone loss caused by osteoporosis. A 2008 study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that increased vitamin K-2 consumption was associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. This relationship was not, however, seen with vitamin K-1.

Bones and Teeth

What Are the Benefits of Vitamin K2?
Vitamin K is important for maintaining bone and teeth health. Photo Credit Jacob Wackerhausen/iStock/Getty Images

Vitamin K, in all forms, is important in maintaining bone health, as it helps bind calcium to bones. Vitamin K-2 may be particularly important because it is used preferentially by the body to deposit calcium in the teeth and bones, while K-1 is primarily used for blood clotting. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that low vitamin K levels have been found in individuals with osteoporosis. Studies also suggest that Vitamin K in athletes can aid in bone health.

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