Vitamin K2: The New K on the Block (2023)

You may have heard about vitamin K. It plays a big role in blood clotting, bone health and heart health.

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What you may not know is that vitamin K is actually a name given to a class of vitamins. What we commonly think of as vitamin K includes vitamin K1 (also called phylloquinone), as well as vitamin K2 (menaquinone). They work differently in your body and come from different food sources.

Vitamin K1 comes from plant sources, like leafy greens and blueberries. While vitamin K2 is more common in animal products, fermented foods and some kinds of cheese. It stays in your body longer than vitamin K1 and holds the potential for some serious health benefits that are just now starting to come to light.

“I think we’ve always known that there’s a vitamin K2, I just don’t think we’ve really ever given it enough credit for how much work it does in the body,” says registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD.

Zumpano helps us understand the health benefits of vitamin K2 and how to get more of it in your diet.

(Video) Vitamin K2 and the Heart. Does it help? The evidence and how I use K2

What is vitamin K2?

Think of vitamin K as a collection of vitamins that play a similar role in your health. That class is made up of vitamin K1, as well as vitamin K2 and vitamin K2’s 10 subtypes, known as MK-4 to MK-13.

“Vitamin K is a class of vitamins, like citrus fruits are a class of fruits,” Zumpano says. “Think of oranges, grapefruits, limes and lemons. They may grow on different trees and have different tastes, but at the end of the day, they’re all citrus fruits. It makes sense for them to be grouped together because they share a lot of common traits.”

The same is true of vitamin K. K vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning they dissolve in fats and oils. And they play important roles in blood clotting, bone health and heart health.

Vitamin K isn’t unique in this regard. Lots of vitamins are named by a single letter but have various subtypes. B vitamins, for example, are broken down into eight subtypes.

What are the benefits of vitamin K2?

Zumpano says the exciting thing about vitamin K2 is that it’s absorbed by your body more slowly than vitamin K1. Whereas vitamin K1 is quickly filtered out of your blood — often within a matter of hours, vitamin K2 has the potential to be longer-lasting. That means it stays in your body longer — several days even — and has more time to do its good work.

“The absorption of vitamin K1 is pretty low because of its structure. It’s a shorter chain, so it gets filtered through your liver more quickly,” Zumpano explains. “The thinking is that vitamin K2 has the potential to have more influence on your body because it’s a longer chain, so your body is slower to absorb and digest it.”

There’s still much to be understood about the differences between vitamin K1 and vitamin K2, and research is ongoing. Zumpano details what we do know about K vitamins, and vitamin K2 specifically, including some of its most important benefits.

Aids in blood clotting

One of the main functions of K vitamins is to allow your blood to clot. In fact, the “K” in vitamin K is in reference to the German word “koagulation,” which translates to “coagulation” or the ability to clot (or thicken) blood.

Blood clots may sound like a bad thing — and they can be. After all, blood clots can travel to your brain and cause strokes. And clots in your arteries cause heart attacks.

(Video) Exposing the links between Calcium, Vitamin K2, and Plaque Buildup in Blood Vessels

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But a certain amount of clotting-ability in your blood is important for your health. The ability for your blood to clot is what keeps you from bleeding out after an injury. Blood that’s too thin can make you bruise more easily and even leave you at risk for dangerous internal bleeding.

Vitamin K can help keep your blood not too thick and not too thin. In the words of Goldilocks, it keeps your blood just right.

At this point, researchers have yet to determine if vitamin K1 or vitamin K2 are equally responsible for clotting or if one is any more effective than the other when it comes to blood clotting.

Builds healthy bones

When you think of strong and healthy bones, you may be tempted to think of calcium as the main nutrient to prevent fractures and osteoporosis.

And it’s true that calcium is an important part of bone health. But research is showing that calcium doesn’t act alone.

“Having low levels of vitamin K is associated with a higher risk of bone fractures,” Zumpano notes. “We’ve always put so much emphasis on calcium for bone health. But in reality, vitamin D, vitamin K and calcium all actually work together.”

Vitamin K helps activate a protein called osteocalcin, which binds to calcium to build bones. That makes vitamin K an essential component of bone health.

(Video) Vit K2 - Does it Remove Arterial Plaque?

Some early studies are showing that vitamin K2 supplements may reduce fractures and improve bone quality in people with osteoporosis.

In Japan and other parts of Asia, one kind of vitamin K2 (MK-4), is used as a treatment for osteoporosis.

Improves heart health

In addition to its positive effects on blood clotting and strong bones, vitamin K helps keeps your heart healthy. That’s because of the way it acts to clear out calcium from your blood vessels.

When calcium builds up in your body, it can lead to hardening (or calcification) of your tissues, organs and blood vessels. Calcium deposits in your arteries can lead to high blood pressure, kidney disease and more.

“Vitamin K has been shown to help activate a protein that helps prevent calcium from depositing in your arteries,” Zumpano explains. “Calcium deposits contribute to the development of plaque, so vitamin K does a lot of good for your heart health.”

Some early research has shown that vitamin K2 may be more effective at clearing out calcium than vitamin K1.

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One study found that people who took in at least 32 micrograms per day of vitamin K2 in their diet were 50% less likely to die from heart disease related to hardened arteries. People in that study didn’t consume any vitamin K1.

(Video) Vitamin K2 & The Arteries

Other research showed that women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB) who had a high intake of vitamin K2-rich foods (but not vitamin K1) were less likely to experience cardiovascular events, like heart attacks and strokes. For every 10 micrograms of vitamin K2 they consumed per day, their risk of heart disease decreased by 9%.

The European Food Safety Authority has approved a health claim for vitamin K, noting that “a cause-and-effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of vitamin K and the maintenance of normal bone.”

Getting your fill of vitamin K2

While food safety organizations in parts of Asia and Europe officially acknowledge some health benefits of vitamin K, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t authorized a health claim for vitamin K. Essentially, that means more research needs to be done for the FDA to back vitamin K as a significant contributor to health.

But if you’re looking to add more vitamin K2 to your diet, know that some of the top sources of vitamin K-rich foods aren’t ones we typically see as part of a healthy diet. Whereas vitamin K1 is abundant in leafy greens and other “health foods,” vitamin K2 is found in a lot of foods that aren’t typically recommended as part of a heart-healthy diet.

“Vitamin K2 is often found in animal products and fermented foods, as opposed to natural, plant food sources,” Zumpano notes. “But that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. There are some foods that are both naturally healthy and rich in vitamin K2.”

Some of the foods highest in vitamin K2 include:

  • Nattō (fermented soy).
  • Gouda cheese.
  • Blue cheese.
  • Egg yolks.

People who take blood thinners should talk with their healthcare provider before increasing their intake of vitamin K1 or vitamin K2.

Additionally, some research suggests that vitamin K2 supplements may be beneficial for some people. Vitamin K1 is most useful for your body when it’s eaten in its natural form. That’s because of its shorter absorption time, Zumpano says.

Vitamin K2, however, may be an effective supplement because it isn’t used up by your body as quickly. That means that the supplements could have a chance to work, rather than simply pass through your system as waste.

(Video) Vitamin K2: for Clogged Arteries (Calcification)

While much is still to be learned about vitamin K2, the signs so far point to an underutilized and underappreciated powerhouse for our bodies.

“It’s exciting to see that we’re learning more all the time about vitamin K2 and its potential,” Zumpano says. “It really does seem to be something that will get more attention and will make a difference for a lot of people’s health as we learn more.”


Vitamin K2: The New K on the Block? ›

Vitamin K2 Contraindications

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to any single vitamin or multivitamin. Do not use this medicine if you are under 18 years old.

Who should not take K2 supplements? ›

Vitamin K2 Contraindications

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to any single vitamin or multivitamin. Do not use this medicine if you are under 18 years old.

What happens when you start taking vitamin K2? ›

It contributes to skin health and bone metabolism, promotes proper brain function and prevents heart-related diseases. Furthermore, vitamin K2 is important in the body's use of calcium to help build bones and to inhibit blood vessel calcification. Vitamin K2 is found in animal foods and preserved foods.

Is it good to take vitamin K2 everyday? ›

You should be able to get all the vitamin K you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take vitamin K supplements, do not take too much as this might be harmful. Taking 1mg or less of vitamin K supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

Does K2 remove plaque from arteries? ›

Optimal Vitamin K2 intake is crucial to avoid the calcium plaque buildup of atherosclerosis, thus keeping the risk and rate of calcification as low as possible. Matrix GLA protein (MGP)—found in the tissues of the heart, kidneys, and lungs—plays a dominant role in vascular calcium metabolism.

What are the negative effects of vitamin K2? ›

When taken by mouth: The two forms of vitamin K (vitamin K1 and vitamin K2) are likely safe when taken appropriately. Vitamin K1 10 mg daily and vitamin K2 45 mg daily have been safely used for up to 2 years. It's usually well-tolerated, but some people may have an upset stomach or diarrhea.

What are the negatives of vitamin K2? ›

Side Effects
  • Decreased appetite.
  • decreased movement or activity.
  • difficulty in breathing.
  • enlarged liver.
  • general body swelling.
  • muscle stiffness.
  • paleness.
  • yellow eyes or skin.
Feb 1, 2023

Should I take D3 and K2 at same time? ›

Vitamin D3 should therefore always be taken in combination with vitamin K2. These two vitamins work together synergistically and ensure that calcium obtained from food is deposited in the bones and not in the arteries.

When should I take K2 morning or night? ›

You can take vitamin K2 at any time of the day, as long as it's with a meal or snack that contains some fat.

Does K2 raise blood pressure? ›

Essentially, vitamin K2 activates the proteins that keep calcium in the bones and out of the arteries, preventing it from sticking to arterial walls, limiting blood supply, and increasing blood pressure.

Is vitamin K2 safe for seniors? ›

K2 reduces the risk of bone fracture, while reducing cardiovascular risk—important for longevity and quality of life for 60+ consumers.

Does vitamin K2 clean arteries? ›

In a new study, scientists have presented powerful evidence that vitamin K2 can reduce the progression of atherosclerosis, the “blockage” of the arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

What does vitamin K2 do for hair? ›

Vitamin K2, to be specific, is crucial to preventing scalp calcification, which is when calcium builds on the scalp and prevents hair growth. Vitamin K2 helps us regulate our calcium intake and maintain a healthy scalp.

How long does it take for K2 to clean arteries? ›

In the groups receiving high-dose vitamin K1 or K2 (MK-4), not only was there no further arterial calcium accumulation, there was a 37% reduction of previously accumulated arterial calcification after six weeks. After 12 weeks, there was a 53% reduction in accumulated arterial calcium deposits.

How much vitamin K2 to unclog arteries? ›

A subgroup analysis of the study observed that vitamin K2 MK-7 (720 µg/day) and D (25 µg/day) supplementation for two years helped slow the progression of coronary plaque development in individuals at high risk of developing coronary artery calcification with no prior identified ischemic heart disease.

Can K2 cause heart problems? ›

Vitamin K2's role in heart health

They found that Vitamin K2 intake (of about 25 μg/day) reduced the risk of dying from heart disease by 57%. It also reduced cases of coronary heart disease by 41%, severe arterial calcification by 52%, and overall mortality by 36% (Grober, 2015).

Is vitamin K2 hard on the liver? ›

There is no evidence that vitamin K supplementation, in physiologic or even higher doses, causes serum enzyme elevations, liver injury or jaundice.

Is K2 bad for kidneys? ›

Key Messages: CKD population are at risk of vitamin K deficiency. Supplementation of vitamin K2 is safe and improves the serum markers of its deficiency.

Is vitamin K2 really necessary? ›

Why You Need Vitamin K2. Both vitamins K1 and K2 ensure healthy blood clotting, preventing excessive bleeding and bruising when blood vessels get injured.

Can your body get too much vitamin K2? ›

There are no known serious side effects from taking too much vitamin K2. However, it is sensible to stick to the recommended intake.

What are the symptoms of low K2? ›

Since vitamin K is responsible for blood clotting, a vitamin K2 deficiency manifests itself in very heavy bleeding in injuries. Vitamin K2 deficiency is also noticeable through nosebleeds, bleeding of the mucous membranes and bruises. In the case of a vitamin K2 deficiency, bruises can be caused by a slight pressure.

How long can you be on vitamin K2? ›

How long vitamin K2 stays in your body depends on the form you take. MK-7 forms of K2 are some of the best for dietary supplementation because it stays in the body for up to three days, while MK-4 forms last around 24 hours.

Does vitamin K2 thicken or thin the blood? ›

Aids in blood clotting

One of the main functions of K vitamins is to allow your blood to clot. In fact, the “K” in vitamin K is in reference to the German word “koagulation,” which translates to “coagulation” or the ability to clot (or thicken) blood.

What foods are high in K2? ›

Vitamin K2 is only found in animal foods and certain fermented dishes. Small amounts are also produced by your gut bacteria ( 10 ). Natto, a Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans, is one of the best sources of vitamin K2. Other good sources include meat, liver, and cheese ( 11 ).

Does vitamin K2 interact with any medications? ›

There are 11 drugs known to interact with Vitamin K2 (menaquinone), along with 1 disease interaction. Of the total drug interactions, 10 are moderate, and 1 is minor.

Does K2 affect sleep? ›

Vitamin K2: Benefits and Uses

Vitamin K2 may play a role in sleep. Studies show these supplements may help you fall asleep faster and have a better sleep quality than those who don't supplement.

Do you need to take K2 with magnesium? ›

Vitamin K2, along with vitamin D and magnesium ensures that this calcium is used effectively within the body. Magnesium and vitamin D are needed to aid calcium absorption while vitamin K2 ensures the calcium is correctly deposited where it is required, into the bones and not the arteries.

How quickly does vitamin K2 work? ›

Both Vitamin K2 as MK-4 and MK-7 are nearly completely absorbed, with peak serum concentration at 2 hours for MK-4 and 4 hours for MK-7 after intake (Schurgers et al., 2007; Shearer et al., 2008).

Does K2 make blood clot? ›

Vitamin K likely plays an important role in blood clotting and promoting good heart and bone health. Some research suggests that K2 may be superior to K1 in some of these functions, but further research is needed to confirm this. For optimal health, focus on increasing food sources of both vitamin K1 and K2.

Does K2 make your heart race? ›

Results • Vitamin K2 supplementation was associated with a 12% increase in maximal cardiac output, with P = . 031, with a trend toward an increase in heart-rate AUC, with P = . 070.

Does vitamin K2 raise cholesterol? ›

Accordingly, subjects in the Rotterdam Study with the highest vitamin K2 intake consumed more total and saturated fats and also had lower total cholesterol values and higher levels of heart-protective HDL cholesterol.

Does vitamin K2 prevent wrinkles? ›

Vitamin K2 may prevent wrinkles and reverse aging

Skin cells appear to release matrix-GLA protein to prevent calcification of elastin in the skin. One study looked at a genetic disorder where premature aging occurs. It found that elastin is calcified due to the lack of Vitamin K2 activated matrix-GLA protein.

How much K2 should a 70 year old woman take? ›

Rather than being a single vitamin, it is a family of compounds that comes in two forms: vitamin K1 and K2. The daily Adequate Intake for adult men is 120 micrograms. For women, they should get 90 micrograms a day.

Does vitamin K2 reverse osteoporosis? ›

Vitamin K2 appears to protect the bones more than Vitamin K1, but too little of either is bad for the bones. Studies have shown that poor Vitamin K intake is linked to low bone mass, osteoporosis and fracture risk.

Can k2 reverse arterial calcification? ›

Vitamin K-2 acts to prevent calcification of arteries, and it can reverse calcification after it happens. Secondly, Vitamin K-2 also uniquely activates a hormone in our bones named osteocalcin. This activation step is necessary and essential for the transfer of circulating calcium out of plasma into the bone matrix.

Can vitamin K2 help lose weight? ›

Instead, high vitamin K2 intake may support reducing body weight, abdominal and visceral fat, notably in subjects showing a strong increase in cOC.

Does vitamin K2 increase estrogen? ›

Subsequent experiments showed that vitamin K2 binds 17beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 4 and decreases the intracellular estradiol:estrone ratio, which resulted in the inhibition of the amount of estrogen receptor alpha-binding to its target DNA.

Does vitamin K2 help with anxiety? ›

Results: The rats from the MS group had elevated blood glucose. They had anxiety, depression and memory deficit. Vitamin K2 normalized blood glucose, reduced anxiety and depression, but did not improve memory.

Does K2 help with spider veins? ›

So, Is Vitamin K Cream Effective For Spider Vein Treatment? The short answer is no. While it sounds like a good idea on paper to add vitamin K cream to your spider veins, it's simply ineffective.

What vitamin removes plaque from arteries? ›

Niacin, or Vitamin B3, is the best agent known to raise blood levels of HDL, which helps remove cholesterol deposits from the artery walls.

Does K2 stop calcification? ›

In contrast, vitamin K2 is associated with the inhibition of arterial calcification and arterial stiffening. An adequate intake of vitamin K2 has been shown to lower the risk of vascular damage because it activates matrix GLA protein (MGP), which inhibits the deposits of calcium on the walls.

Who should not take vitamin K2? ›

People with a rare metabolic condition called Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency should avoid vitamin K. People who take warfarin (Coumadin) should not take vitamin K (see “Possible Interactions”). People who are receiving dialysis for kidney diseases can have harmful effects from too much vitamin K.

How do you remove plaque from arteries without surgery? ›

You can take steps to reduce plaques by losing weight, exercising more, or eating fewer foods high in saturated fat. In some cases, doctors may also prescribe medications to lower cholesterol.
These include:
  1. reducing high cholesterol.
  2. reducing high blood pressure.
  3. quitting smoking, if you smoke.

Can you clean clogged arteries naturally? ›

Although it isn't possible to remove plaque from your arterial walls without surgery, you can halt and prevent future plaque build-up. Research does not support that specific food items can help clear arteries naturally, but a healthier diet is essential to reduce the chance of it forming in the first place.

How much K2 does it take to reverse calcification? ›

A daily K2 dosage of 75–120 µg, a range encompassing the recommended dose in many countries, provides adequate osteocalcin activation. A dose of 375 µg per day, however, may provide more efficient osteocalcin activation and, therefore, better utilisation of available calcium for bone building.

Can K2 cause liver damage? ›

There may be a risk for long-term hepatic injury with the use of Spice/K2 due to post-necrotic cirrhosis.

Does vitamin K2 interact with anything? ›

There are 11 drugs known to interact with Vitamin K2 (menaquinone), along with 1 disease interaction. Of the total drug interactions, 10 are moderate, and 1 is minor.

Should everyone take vitamin K2? ›

Unless you regularly consume liver, certain fermented cheeses or natto (a fermented soy product), then chances are you aren't getting enough of this important nutrient. For this reason, a supplement is often recommended. There are two main types of Vitamin K2 available for supplementation: MK-4 and MK-7.

Does vitamin K2 affect kidneys? ›

Vitamin K2, on the other hand, plays a predominant role in bone development, vascular protection, metabolic, liver and renal diseases. In this regard, vitamin K2 is needed for the synthesis of osteocalcin in the bone and matrix GLa protein in the cartilage and in the blood vessels wall.

Does vitamin K2 really clean arteries? ›

In a new study, scientists have presented powerful evidence that vitamin K2 can reduce the progression of atherosclerosis, the “blockage” of the arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

How much vitamin K2 should a 70 year old woman take daily? ›

Rather than being a single vitamin, it is a family of compounds that comes in two forms: vitamin K1 and K2. The daily Adequate Intake for adult men is 120 micrograms. For women, they should get 90 micrograms a day.

Is vitamin K2 good for arthritis? ›

Previous studies have demonstrated that vitamin K2 menaquinones, specifically menaquinone-4 (MK-4), benefit people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Does vitamin K2 affect the heart? ›

Abstract. Vitamin K2 serves an important role in cardiovascular health through regulation of calcium homeostasis. Its effects on the cardiovascular system are mediated through activation of the anti-calcific protein known as matrix Gla protein.

Does vitamin K2 cause thin blood? ›

Vitamin K has a blood-thinning effect in the human organism. The vitamin inhibits blood clotting and can prevent diseases such as thrombosis and strokes. Vitamin K2 is found in many animal as well as plant foods. Through a healthy diet, vitamin K2 should be included in the daily diet.


1. The REAL Reason Why Your Arteries are Calcifying and Turning into Bone
(Dr. Eric Berg DC)
2. Heart palpitations as a result of vitamin K2 supplementation
(Chris Masterjohn, PhD)
3. What is Vitamin K2, Its Benefits & Sources? – Dr.Berg
(Dr. Eric Berg DC)
4. 2 Types of Vitamin K2 (MK-4, MK-7) for Your Bones, Clogged Arteries, & Heart Disease - Dr Mandell,
5. 4 Ways To Decalcify Your Arteries – Dr. Berg
(Dr. Eric Berg DC)
6. Best Vitamins To Stop Calcium Plaque In Your Arteries And Heart
(Heart Disease Code)


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