Nearly everyone is deficiency in vitamin K (just like most people are lacking in vitamin D), says top vitamin K researcher Dr. Cees Vermeer.
Most people get enough vitamin K from their diet to maintain sufficient blood clotting, but that amount is NOT enough for them to reap the protection offered by this largely forgotten nutrient.
Different Types of Vitamin K
Before buying any vitamin K supplement today, it is important to know its different types:
- Vitamin K1 – Found in green vegetables and goes directly to your liver, it helps you maintain healthy blood clotting. It is the kind of K that infants need to prevent a serious bleeding disorder.
- Vitamin K2 – Bacteria produce this kind of vitamin K, which is present in high amounts in your gut but is unfortunately not absorbed from there and merely passes out in your stool. K2 goes straight to vessel walls, bones, and tissues aside from your liver.
K2 comes in different forms, such as MK4, MK7, MK8, and MK9. MK7 is the form with the most relevance for health benefits, as it is newer and longer-acting with more practical applications. It is extracted from natto, a Japanese fermented soy product. Consuming natto – which is relatively cheap and accessible in most Asian food markets – provides loads of MK7.
The form of vitamin K with the most relevance for health benefits is MK7, a newer and longer-acting form with more practical applications. Since natto has a distinct smell and slimy texture and may be found unpalatable, most vitamin K2 supplements are available in MK7 form, which can also be obtained through consuming fermented cheeses.
The Link Between Vitamin D and Vitamin K
Optimal levels of vitamin D are best achieved from healthy exposure to sunlight, or from safe tanning beds if there is not enough sunshine where you are. Evidence has it that the safety of vitamin D is dependent on vitamin K, and that vitamin D toxicity, although very rare with the D3 form, is mitigated by vitamin K2 deficiency. A synergistic effect between vitamins D and K are seen as well.
This means it only makes sense to take vitamin K2 if you are taking oral vitamin D.
How to Get Optimal Vitamin K Levels
Measuring your K levels and optimizing them is then a crucial thing to do. According to Dr. Vermeer, vitamin K measurements in blood plasma can be performed accurately, although the results are hardly helpful because they are a mere reflection of “what you ate yesterday.”
Given the absence of good laboratory assessments, Dr. Vermeer and his team have developed and patented a lab test to assess K levels indirectly though circulating Matrix Gla Protein (MGP) measurement. Dr. Vermeer’s team hopes that this test will be made public in the next several years; they are also working on developing a home test that will be available in drug stores.
Even though there is really no commercial test that would give comprehensive vitamin K information, you have to assume that you need to increase your K levels, since nearly a hundred percent of individuals fail to get adequate vitamin K amounts from their diet.
Optimizing your vitamin K means a combination of dietary sources – like green leafy vegetables, raw milk cheeses, and fermented foods like natto, to name a few – and a K2 supplement, if necessary. The exact dosing for oral supplementation is yet to be known, but current recommendation is up to 185 micrograms daily for adults.
If you are taking anticoagulants, be cautious about taking higher doses. But if you are generally healthy and not taking any of these kinds of drugs, you may take 150 to 300 micrograms every day.
Cher Poliver is a health and wellness blogger who regularly features supplementation news and updates. She currently focuses on vitamin K, which she personally sources from natto and the raw cheeses she is fond of eating.