Calcium and vitamin D are important mediators in bone growth, but vitamin K plays an equally important role. The synthesis of bone growth is dependent on vitamin K, through its carboxylation of osteocalcin, a protein secreted by osteoblasts. Osteocalcin guides calcium into bones and prevents its absorption into organs, joint spaces and arteries. Vitamin K occurs in two main forms: K1 (phylloquinone), found primarily in the liver, naturally occurs in green leafy vegetables and is considered to be the main dietary source; and K2 (menaquinone), which is a group of related compounds differentiated by their side chains. MK-4 and MK-7 are the two subclasses of K2 most widely studied for their role in bone and cardiovascular health. MK-4 is primarily a metabolic byproduct of K1 while MK-7 is found in small quantities in liver mitochondria and other tissues.7 The MK-7 form is substantially more active, has a longer half-life and accumulates to higher concentrations in serum than vitamin K1. The different degrees of bioavailability between K1 and K2 are due to differences in structure. The long side-chain of vitamin K2 (specifically MK-7) allows it to bind with fat particles in circulation. This process then allows easier facilitation to soft tissue, bones and arteries. More recently, research has shown that doses of 180 mcg of MK-7 provide greater results when supporting both bone and cardiovascular health.
The addition of MenaQ7 PRO to this formula is backed by extensive research. Dr. Leon Schurgers , world-renowned expert in vitamin K2 as MK-7 research for cardiovascular and bone health, and his team of research scientists have conducted over 15 clinical trials on MenaQ7PRO through the University of Maastricht.
Vitamin K Depletion
Although most people consume adequate dietary levels/amounts of vitamin K to maintain sufficient blood clotting, most do not consume enough MK-7 to meet cardiovascular and bone health needs. In fact, approximately 70% of the western population is deficient in vitamin K2. Compromised intestinal absorption can also lead to insufficient K2 levels leaving calcium available to be exported out of bone and into other tissues. Other medications such as antibiotics, cholesterol-lowering medications and laxatives have also been found to contribute to a deficiency of vitamin K.
Supplementation of K2 has repeatedly been shown to help maintain bone density and strength among women. Research from Japanese populations has found superior bone health among women who more frequently consumed MK-7-rich nattō than those who did not.13 The positive effect of K2 on bone health is also evident among healthy children, among whom modest supplementation with MK-7 has been shown to increase osteocalcin carboxylation.9 In a randomized, placebocontrolled trial, 180 mcg of MK-7 or placebo were given to 244 healthy post-menopausal women over the course of three years. After at least two years, statistically significant benefits were seen in vertebrae, hip and femoral neck. Another ground-breaking randomized, placebo-controlled trial gave 244 women, aged 55-65, 180 mcg of vitamin K2 or placebo. The study found that those given the K2 were significantly better able to maintain their osteoclast to osteoblast ratio. Furthermore, levels of circulating osteocalcin, a marker related to tissue calcification in the body, were reduced by 50% among women taking K2 versus a 4% increase among the placebo group after two and three years.
Cardiovascular Health & Blood Sugar Balance
Vitamin K also plays a key role in supporting the cardiovascular system and healthy blood sugar balance. In a large population study, those who consumed high amounts of K2 had significantly improved cardiovascular markers compared to those given vitamin K1. A cohort of over 16,000 women also linked higher intake of K2 with better maintenance of cardiovascular health. Studies have also shown vitamin K to support healthy blood sugar metabolism. A 2015 study showed that long-term (three years) supplementation of 180 mcg of vitamin K2 as MK-7 was safe and effectively maintained healthy arterial elasticity and cardiovascular function. The same amount of MK-7 was also found to impart substantial benefits in arterial plasticity and blood vessel elasticity in healthy women, which had previously been only with “pharmacological doses” up to 4,500 mcg of synthetic vitamin K.
The Triage Theory states that in the face of nutrient inadequacies, nature ensures short term survival of a cell is protected at the expense of long term consequences. Vitamin K is an excellent example of this theory. Hypothetically, a short term deficiency in vitamin K would lead to a reduction in blood clotting. This direct threat to survival does not happen, as the body uses its metabolic reserve of vitamin K to ensure immediate needs are met. If continued, this dip into reserve leads to a longterm deficiency in vitamin K. Though not directly threatening immediate survival, long-term deficiencies are linked to bone fragility, arterial calcification and genomic instability. These issues are related to a loss of vitamin K-dependent proteins not required for short-term survival, nevertheless presenting long-term health challenges.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
- Weber P. Management of osteoporosis: is there a role for vitamin K? Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1997;67(5):350-6.
- Geleijnse JM, et al. Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study. J Nutr 2004;134(11):3100-5.
- Beulens JW, High dietary menaquinone intake is associated with reduced coronary calcification. Atherosclerosis 2009;203(2):489-93. Epub 2008 Jul 19.
- Kidd PM. Vitamins D and K as pleiotropic nutrients: clinical importance to the skeletal and cardiovascular systems and preliminary evidence for synergy. Altern Med Rev 2010;15(3):199-222.
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- Schurgers LJ, Teunissen KJ, Hamuly k K, Knapen MH, Vik H, Vermeer C. Vitamin K-containing dietary supplements: comparison of synthetic vitamin K1 and natto-derived menaquinone. Blood 2007;109(8):3279-83. Epub 2006 Dec 7. -7.
- Shearer MJ. Vitamin K metabolism and nutriture. Blood Rev 1992;6(2):92-104.
- Unpublished clinical studies, NattoPharma. On file.
- Knapen MH, Schurgers LJ, Vermeer C. Vitamin K2 supplementation improves hip bone geometry and bone strength indices in postmenopausal women. Osteoporos Int. 2007 Jul;18(7):963-72. Epub 2007 Feb 8.
- Kaneki M, Hodges SJ, Hosoi T, Fujiwara S, Lyons A, Crean SJ, Ishida N, Nakagawa M, Takechi M, Sano Y, Mizuno Y, Hoshino S, Miyao M, Inoue S, Horiki K, Shiraki M, Ouchi Y, Orimo H. Japanese fermented soybean food as the major determinant of the large geographic difference in circulating levels of vitamin K2: possible implications for hip-fracture risk. Nutrition 2001; 17(4):315-21.
- Van Summeren MJ, Braam LA, Lilien MR, Schurgers LJ, Kuis W, Vermeer C. The effect of menaquinone-7 (vitamin K2) supplementation on osteocalcin carboxylation in healthy prepubertal children. Br J Nutr. 2009 Oct;102(8):1171-8. Epub 2009 May 19.
- Ushiroyama T, Ikeda A, Ueki M. Effect of continuous combined therapy with vitamin K(2) and vitamin D(3) on bone mineral density and coagulofibrinolysis function in postmenopausal women. Maturitas 2002; 41(3):211-21.
- Knapen MH, Drummen NE, Smit E, Vermeer C, Theuwissen E. Three-year low-dose menaquinone-7 supplementation helps decrease bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women. Osteoporos Int. 2013 Sep;24(9):2499-507.
- Geleijnse JM, Vermeer C, Grobbee DE, Schurgers LJ, Knapen MH, van der Meer IM, Hofman A, Witteman JC. Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study. J Nutr 2004; 134(11):3100-5.
- Gast GC, de Roos NM, Sluijs I, Bots ML, Beulens JW, Geleijnse JM, Witteman JC, Grobbee DE, Peeters PH, van der Schouw YT. A high menaquinone intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Sep;19(7):504-10. Epub 2009 Jan 28.
- Beulens JW, van der A DL, Grobbee DE, Sluijs I, Spijkerman AM, van der Schouw YT. Dietary phylloquinone and menaquinones intakes and risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2010; 33(8):1699 705.
- Choi HJ, Yu J, Choi H, An JH, Kim SW, Park KS, Jang HC, Kim SY, Shin CS. Vitamin K2 supplementation improves insulin sensitivity via osteocalcin metabolism: a placebocontrolled trial. Diabetes Care 2011; 34(9):e147.
- Theuwissen E, Smit E, Vermeer C. The role of vitamin K in soft-tissue calcification. Adv Nutr. 2012 Mar 1;3(2):166-73.
- Knapen M, Braam LA, Drummen NE, Bekers O, Hoeks A and Vermeer C. Menaquinone-7 supplementation improves arterial stiffness in healthy postmenopausal women. A double-blind randomised clinical trial. Thromb Haemost. 2015;113:1135-44.
- Iijima H, Shinzaki S, Takehara T. The importance of vitamins D and K for the bone health and immune function in inflammatory bowel disease. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2012; 15(6):635-40
Always be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new nutritional supplement when pregnant or nursing. For children, we recommend speaking with your child's pediatrician regarding proper dosing. Store away from children.