Throughout our lives, we hear about different vitamins, but vitamin K2 is not discussed much compared to others. Despite this, it performs important functions, mainly in blood clotting and bone health.
Know that the benefits of vitamin K2 don’t stop there! In this text, you will learn more about this vitamin that can be found in some foods and acquired through supplementation. You will also understand how it works in the body and the main positive points that make it so essential in your diet.
What is Vitamin K2?
Vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone, is a fundamental substance for strengthening bones and can be found in greater quantities in fermented foods.
The properties of vitamin K2 actively contribute to bone and vascular health, since its biological activity ensures the process of inhibiting vascular calcification and promoting bone mineralization, in which matrix Gla proteins (MGP), Osteocalcin and Gla-rich protein (GRP) are responsible for these demands. In other words, if there is a vitamin K2 deficiency, the processes mentioned above may be compromised, as these proteins depend on the activity of the vitamin to perform their functions.
In the next topics, you will understand how vitamin K2 acts on different aspects of our body and in preventing diseases.
Vitamin K2, calcium and osteoporosis
Calcium is a vital mineral for building the body’s bone structure and muscle function. Despite this, it can also become the reason for major cardiovascular diseases. But how so? Well, excess calcium in the body can lead to hardening of the arteries and vessels of the cardiovascular system, making them less flexible. Another problem is calcium plaques that can form in arteries and vessels, making it difficult for the heart to work and increasing the risk of complications. And that’s where vitamin K2 comes into play!
Vitamin K2 brings calcium into balance. It works as follows: by activating MGP proteins, they prevent the mineral from being deposited in cardiovascular tissues. In addition, K2 can also regulate calcium, ensuring its role in bone construction, by activating the protein Osteocalcin, responsible for the integration of calcium into the bone matrix.
Simply put: vitamin K2 activates some proteins that prevent calcium from “passing” through the bloodstream, taking it to the bones to complete its function. Once there, the vitamin appears again, activating another protein found inside the bones, keeping calcium there and increasing bone mineral density.
Due to this relationship with calcium, exclusive benefits have been attributed to vitamin K2 in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, a serious health problem characterized by loss of mass and deterioration of bone structure, especially in elderly individuals. Bone balance is altered by the formation of osteoblasts or desorption by osteoclasts.
In menopausal women, calcium and vitamin K2 supplementation is even more recommended. This is because, as hormonal changes characteristic of the period promote the loss and prevent the removal of bone mass, prevention and interruption of bone loss are the main focuses of osteoporosis treatment.
Patients with osteoporosis are more likely to develop vascular calcification. In this sense, the proteins already mentioned, MGP and Gla-rich protein – whose activities are dependent on vitamin K2 – can help prevent this diagnosis by performing their functions correctly. Furthermore, this vitamin promotes an increase in the number and activity of osteoblasts, as well as enabling fracture regeneration. Here we see the great contribution of vitamin K2 to bone health.
Vitamin K2 and cardiovascular health
Once here, you can already get an idea of the benefits that vitamin K2 offers to the heart. By regulating calcium, this vitamin can prevent the emergence of cardiovascular diseases. Because, if calcium accumulates in the circulatory system, the vessels and arteries begin to show reduced elasticity and flexibility, causing the heart to work much harder to circulate blood, which can lead to ruptures or illnesses, such as atherosclerosis.
The Rotterdam study, carried out with approximately 5000 people in the Netherlands, demonstrated that diets rich in vitamin K2 can drastically reduce the risk and mortality from cardiovascular diseases. Another study, carried out in 2015 by Knapen, concluded that, in addition to prevention, K2 can reverse existing levels of calcification and restore arterial flexibility.
Vitamin K2 and cancer
Studies carried out indicate that vitamin K2 is a potential inhibitor of certain types of liver cancer, such as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This condition can mainly affect people with hepatitis or who have suffered cirrhosis of the organ.
Research has shown that the use of vitamin K2 supplementation can reduce the risk of developing HCC, as it is related to the reduced vitamin K content in the liver compared to healthy areas. Therefore, the more vitamin K2 circulating throughout the body, the greater the prevention against hepatocellular carcinoma and other types of cancer.
Vitamin K2 for healthier aging
Understanding that this vitamin can help prevent diseases that become more common with advancing age, it was to be expected that this nutrient would be a great ally for longevity and quality of life in old age, right?
Anyone who wants to age healthier should pay due attention to the role of vitamin K2 in their routine, as, in addition to promoting senility and preventing diseases such as those mentioned throughout the text, it also acts in the prevention of Alzheimer’s, arthritis, nephropathies , reducing expression lines and preventing skin atrophy.
Where to find vitamin K2
The following foods can be a source of this vitamin:
- Liver meat;
- Cheeses and derivatives;
- Fermented soybeans;
Now you know that, to improve cardiovascular and bone health, prevent cancer and experience healthier aging, you can count on the presence of vitamin K2.