Have you heard about vitamin K? It's a vitamin that has been heavily researched and until recently has been seen solely as a vitamin that helps the body in blood clotting, supporting blood vessels and helps to maintain healthy bones. Vitamin K is rarely one that people are deficient in since the gut microbiome can produce it naturally. Vitamin K is also readily available in leafy greens, brussel sprouts, asparagus, parsley and an array of other veggies. It is better absorbed by the body when eaten with fat because it is a fat soluble vitamin. Recently however, research has shown that there are TWO forms of vitamin K; K1 & K2 and that they act differently in the body with different food sources.
K1 is what is basically known as the functions of vitamin K. K2 however, is a whole different story. K2 is primarily found in foods like natto (fermented soy) and pasture raised animal products (which is not how most animal products are produced) specifically high in organ meats, the amount of K2 is highly dependent on the way the food is prepared. The chances of being deficient in K2 are much higher as the food sources are not as prevalent. Your body also needs Vitamin A + D to be present as well as dietary fat as these vitamins are all fat soluble. The consumption of trans fats and the use of some pharmaceuticals have been also been shown to reduce the absorption of K2 in the body. As you can see K2 has a lot of hoops to jump through in order to be ingested and used in the body.
So - what does K2 do in the body?! K2 plays a large role in the way your body metabolizes calcium, which is the primary mineral found in your bones and teeth. Basically, it's job is to place calcium where it is needed, like laid down on your bones. Calcium is attracted to the arterial wall when there is damage, which is particularly scary if there is a large amount of calcium in the body and little K2. K2 is vitally important to keep calcium away from the arteries and soft tissues, it activates a protein that blocks calcium build up. This is significant because about 20% of arterial plaque build up in comprised of calcium! Vegetarians and vegans needs to be extra cautious when trying to get enough K2 in the diet. Ensuring to eat natto or looking into a high quality supplement is crutial. For people who eat animal products, ensuring you are eating pasture raised animals is key and also more sustainable in general. Now you know the importance of K2 and where you can get it through food sources to not only keep your teeth and bones strong but to also benefit your heart health and reduce arterial calcification!
Source used: Insights into How Calcium Forms Plaques in Arteries Pave the Way for New Treatments for Heart Disease. (2011, April 14). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3621666/