In the pantheon of vitamins there are the perceived titans, such as Vitamin C, and there are those that perform an equally vital role but for whatever reason just don’t get the press. Vitamin K2 is one such vitamin. Vitamin K2 was discovered less than a century ago and first believed to be little more than a curiosity. However, it’s now known that, among other things, vitamin K2 plays an important role in maintaining healthy bones and in preventing heart disease (1). Here are the 10 best K2 supplements for 2018.
1. Nutrigold Vitamin K2 MK-7 Gold
Nutrigold Vitamin K2 MK-7 is derived from the fermented soybean byproduct natto. It’s completely free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and is suspended in olive oil for more effective absorption. MK-7 is proven to be the more effective of the K2 isomer variants, surpassing the cis isomer in both potency and bioavailability. Nutrigold provides their proprietary form of MK-7 in a capsule that is devoid of preservatives and artificial ingredients.
2. InnovixLabs Full Spectrum Vitamin K2
InnovixLabs strives to produce scientifically sound nutritional products and their K2 is an excellent example. Whereas some K2 supplements will include the cis isomer in their formulations InnovixLabs recognizes the cis isomer as being generally ineffective and instead opts for the bioactive MK-7 isomer. The result is a vitamin K2 supplement that is extremely high potency and will do an excellent job promoting healthy heart and bones.
3. Sports Research Natural MK-7 Vitamin K2
Sport Research Natural MK-7 Vitamin K2 is sourced from 100% fermented chickpeas and blended with coconut oil to enhance absorption. That’s important because if taken alone vitamin K2 can be hard on the digestive tracts of some people. These softgels are both easily absorbed and easily tolerated, even by those known to have sensitive stomachs. Sports Research Natural MK-7 K2 is also certified to be 100% GMO-free.
4. Life Extension Super K
Life Extension Super K goes all-in on Vitamin K by combining vitamin K1 (MK-4) with vitamin K2 (MK-7). MK-4 is typically produced from leafy vegetables while MK-7 may be obtained from meats, eggs or fermented plant sources. It’s not always easy to tell which type of vitamin K may be most effective for a particular person. But with Life Extension Super K you have all the bases covered.
5. Solgar Vitamin K2
Solgar Vitamin K2 is a high quality product from one of today’s most reliable supplement producers. Their K2 is safe for vegetarians as it not sourced from meat products like some other K2 supplements are. In this case Solgar source their K2 from fermented soybeans. It is 100% GMO free as well as being free of sugar, sodium, yeast, gluten, wheat and any artificial ingredients like sweeteners or preservatives.
6. Doctor’s Best Natural Vitamin K2
Doctor’s Best Natural Vitamin K2 is one of the more popular K2 supplements on the market even though the dosage they provide is only half that per capsule of most other major brands. We think that popularity is no mystery, however, and is based on the company’s hard-earned and long standing reputation for producing high quality supplements of every kind. Their K2 does include some stabilizers but it is also gluten and soy free and certified GMO-free as well.
7. Zhou Nutrition K2 + D3
Zhou Nutrition combines the healthy bone and heart promoting capabilities of vitamin K2 with the ability of vitamin D3 to promote healthy muscle tissue. The result is perhaps the ultimate musculoskeletal supplement. Vitamin D3 is also known to facilitate the absorption of calcium which is so crucial to healthy bones. As such, when it’s combined with vitamin K2 your bones are in for a jolt of high potency, premium protection.
8. NOW MK-7 K2
NOW Foods source their vitamin K2 from fermented chickpeas. The result is a high potency capsule that will help you maintain healthy bones and arteries that are free of calcification. While NOW MK-7 K2 does include some non-GMO fillers it is nonetheless both kosher and vegan friendly. The organically sourced MK-7 this supplement is built around exhibits the highest degree of bioavailability so you can be sure you’re getting the full benefit of each K2 capsule.
9. MaryRuth’s Organics Vitamin K2
MaryRuth is a family owned business that strives to produce high quality all natural supplements that are also eco-friendly in that they’re packaged in glass rather than here-forever plastic. Their K2 is suspended in olive oil to facilitate absorption and accommodate those with more sensitive digestive systems. MaryRuth’s Vitamin K2 contains no gluten, wheat, soy or sugar and is keto, vegan and paleo friendly. It’s also 100% free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
10. Nature Made K2
Nature Made K2 is a basic K2 supplement without any of the add-ons that are the hallmark of other supplements. It’s not trying to be all things to all people, it simply provides 100 micrograms of organically derived MK-7 K2 that is gluten, yeast, starch and preservative free. It suspends its K2 in organic soybean oil instead of olive oil which makes it less agreeable to some but more agreeable to others, because it makes for a more affordable supplement.
What Exactly is Vitamin K2?
Vitamin K2 was not discovered until less than a century ago and for some time it remained a mystery to nutritionists. A German scientific journal was first to break the news about K2 and called it the “koagulations vitamin”, hence the “K”. It wasn’t until some years later that the extent of vitamin K2’s influence over our health was fully understood. Today it is known to contribute to strong bones and to help prevent the buildup of calcium in our veins. There is a great deal of buzz around K2 at the moment because it has been suggested that it may also play an important role in preventing osteoporosis (2) and other diseases. Vitamin K2 can be synthesized from a variety of foods including soy, chickpeas, eggs, meat and cheese or produced artificially in the laboratory using genetically modified organisms or GMOs.
Some factors that may lead to a vitamin K2 deficiency include:
- Extended use of antibiotics
- Liver disease
- Severe burns
- Celiac disease
- Gallbladder dysfunction
- Long-term dialysis
People who undergo various forms of gastric bypass surgery may also suffer from vitamin K2 deficiency.
Can Vitamin K2 Really Help Prevent Disease?
There are some pretty heady claims being bandied about concerning vitamin K2, not the least of which is that it can help prevent heart disease as well as osteoporosis and tooth decay and that it may even help prevent certain types of cancer. So are these claims science-based or are they simply part of a marketing campaign being waged on behalf of supplement makers?
- K2 and Heart disease – Fortunately, any claims made about the ability of vitamin K2 to help prevent calcification of the arteries are in fact based on sound scientific evidence (3). But not only is there growing evidence that vitamin K2 can help keep your arteries clear of calcium buildup there is also some convincing evidence that maintaining adequate K2 intake can significantly reduce your risk of dying from coronary heart disease (4). So you can take your K2 with confidence knowing that you’re doing your heart a favor.
- K2 and Osteoporosis – As we mentioned above vitamin K2 is the subject of numerous studies today examining the role it seems to play in the prevention of osteoporosis and other types of bone loss. The early evidence from these studies is extremely promising with one indicating that postmenopausal women who take vitamin K2 supplements exhibit significantly less age-related loss of bone density (5).
- Vitamin K2 and Cancer – The struggle to find a cure for cancer has been a long and difficult one with numerous promising leads and nearly as many disappointing setbacks. Therefore, one has to be careful when making claims regarding the cancer fighting properties of any supplement. There is however, some evidence that suggests vitamin K2 may play a role in extending the survival periods of those afflicted with liver cancer and may help ward off recurrences of this form of cancer as well. In addition there is some evidence to suggest that men whose diets are rich in vitamin K2 may experience a substantially reduced risk of advanced prostate cancer (6).
What are the Symptoms of a Vitamin K2 Deficiency?
Vitamin K2 deficiency is a serious matter. Not just because a person may be denying themselves the numerous health benefits laid out above but because the primary symptom of a K2 deficiency is excessive, sometimes unprompted bleeding. This happens because K2 is a coagulant. That is, it helps the blood bind together to form blockages that prevent cuts and other wounds from causing us to bleed out. As such a lack of K2 can result in uncontrolled bleeding at the site of a wound or even in an unrelated area. Bleeding in those with reduced K2 levels may take many forms including blood beneath the fingernails, bleeding in the mucous membranes and copious blood in the stool. Newborns with vitamin K2 deficiency may experience bleeding in the brain; a life threatening condition.
Are There Any Side Effects to Taking Vitamin K2?
As of this writing there is no scientifically established upper limit for vitamin K2 intake. However, that doesn’t mean one could take unlimited quantities without expecting some sort of physiological backlash. All it means is that clinical data is still lacking. It has been noted though that vitamin K2 does seem to interact negatively with antibiotics (7), blood thinners and certain anticonvulsant medications. Since the function of blood thinners is diametrically opposed to the function of vitamin K2 those on blood thinners should not take supplemental vitamin K2. In addition, pregnant women will want to note that taking supplemental vitamin K2 while pregnant will increase the risk of the baby developing jaundice.
What are Some Good Sources of Vitamin K2?
Most people get approximately 10 times as much vitamin K1 as they do vitamin K2 in their diet. This imbalance is somewhat offset by the fact that the body is able to convert vitamin K1 into K2. But the process of conversion is extremely inefficient and not always capable of producing adequate amounts of vitamin K2. As such it’s a good idea to consume more K2 rich foods in order to be sure you’re getting an adequate amount. The problem with K2 rich foods however, is that some of them may be hard to find at the grocery store. That said, here are some excellent sources of vitamin K2:
- Egg yolks
- Organ meats such as liver
- Butter and cheese
- Fermented soybean or chickpeas
As we said you likely won’t be able to find all of these at the local market but it may be worthwhile to try and track them down. If you can’t find the K2 rich foods you need at the grocery store you should consider taking any of the K2 supplements listed above.
The Bottom Line
Vitamin K2 is no longer considered the nutritional outlier it once was. Today it is understood to play a vital role in bone and heart health and a growing body of evidence suggests it may also help prevent an array of diseases ranging from heart disease to osteoporosis and perhaps even liver and prostate cancers.(8) The bottom line lesson regarding vitamin K2 is that, while it’s always wise to make sure you are getting plenty of the major vitamins, it can be extremely unwise to ignore those that seem like they are on the periphery of nutritional science and awareness.