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Vitamin K: A General Guide

Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that play a role in blood coagulation, bone metabolism, calcium regulation, and many more processes in the body.  It's one of the more complex vitamins, and is often misunderstood or overlooked.
 
All the different forms can be overwhelming at first so let's break it down...

K1 vs. K2
 
K1 (phylloquinone)

• the primary role is blood coagulation
• less bioactive - only circulates body for a few hours then excreted
• only found in plant foods - green vegetables like collards, spinach, and kale.  

K2 (menaquinone) 

• There are two main types of K2: MK-4 & MK-7
• Their roles are mainly bone metabolism, & cardiovascular health but assist in overall general health.
• more bioactive (much longer life span than K1: 72hr. average) 
• found in animal products & some fermented foods 

Now that you understand the differences of K1 and K2, let's look deeper into the subtypes of K2.
 
MK-4 vs. MK-7   

MK-4
• plays a crucial role in pulling calcium out of the soft tissues, and arteries, and directing it back into bone & teeth.
• shorter life span in the body (~6-12hrs.)
• found in pastured eggs, grass-fed milk, butter, & grass-fed meats

MK-7
• the main 'role' is that it can be converted by the body to MK-4 when needed 
• longer life span in the body (~72hrs) 
• found in fermented foods like natto, sauerkraut, hard & soft cheeses & yogurt/kefir

MK-4 and MK-7 are cooperative in the sense that MK-4 produces more biological action, but circulates for less time, whereas MK-7 circulates longer, and can be converted back into MK-4. 
 
MK-7 Isomers: Trans vs. Cis 

Cis-trans isomerism refers to the process that occurs when functional groups in a molecule are rotated or bent into a different configuration. MK-7 can be trans or cis-isomer.
 
Having the right 'shape' is very important for vitamin K2 to fit and interact with the correct molecules. MK-7 trans-isomers are the perfect fit, whereas cis-isomers have a bend in their carbon chain, and may slow down the activation of an enzyme or stop it completely.
 
This makes trans-isomer MK-7 more readily used by our body, and more bioactive than cis-isomer MK-7.
 
Notable K2 Benefits

• protects arteries from calcification and plaque


• moves calcium into bones


• contributes to healthy blood pressure, and cardiovascular function


• builds tooth strength and prevents decay


• regulates the nervous system & supports brain health


• facilitates cellular energy production 

Why are we Deficient?

• K2 MK-4 & 7 deficiency has risen drastically since the switch to industrial farming practices has taken over - the switch from grass to grain-fed livestock means less K1 intake that can be converted to K2 by the animal and thus available in the animal products we eat.

• The rise in vegan, low-fat, or other restrictive diets that do not include any MK-4-containing animal foods

• The richest sources of K2 are not commonly consumed by most people orconsumed consistently enough (or were not consumed during upbringing)
 

• Conversion of K vitamins can be slowed by poor gut
function or other metabolic dysfunctions in the body 
 
I think it's important to fully understand the roles of vitamins before jumping into supplementation, which I why I put a lot of research into formulating my Vitamin K products, Regulate and MK-Seven.
 
To learn more about them, check out the product pages.

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