Vitamin K was first discovered in 1929 by Henrik Dam, a Danish scientist. Dam was awarded The 1943 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering vitamin K. When it was discovered the only known role for vitamin K was an essential factor in blood clotting. (1)
But research over the last 40 years has determined that vitamin K is crucial for a lot more than just blood clotting. Since vitamin K is an essential nutrient, and individual nutrients are used for many different biochemical processes in our bodies, this isn’t surprising. Vitamin K is involved in many biochemical pathways. Research shows that specific forms of vitamin K help promote healthy platelet and blood production, grow stronger bones and decrease fractures, reduce markers of inflammation and promotes connective tissue (collagen) production, making it helpful in tissues throughout the entire body.
While vitamin K1 is preferentially used by the liver as a clotting factor, Vitamin K2 is used in other organs, such as the brain, vasculature, breasts and kidneys. In fact, in the brain vitamin K2 contributes to production of myelin and sphingolipids (fats essential for brain health) and protects against oxidative damage.
Vitamin K2 is the form of vitamin K that’s essential for healthy bones. There are a number of dietary sources of vitamin K2 including eggs, meat, and various cheeses. But very few provide you with the most desirable form of vitamin K2 (more on that in just a moment.) (2)
You already know calcium is the cornerstone of bone health. But vitamin K2 activates the two proteins that regulate where the calcium you consume goes in your body:
- Osteocalcin: Directs the calcium you consume to where it’s needed… your bones!
- Matrix Gla protein: Keeps calcium out of the places you don’t want it– your blood vessels, kidneys, brain, and soft tissues.
Think of vitamin K2 as your body’s very own set of traffic signs, specifically designed for calcium.
So you could consume more than enough calcium, but without vitamin K2, you’ll still have weak bones because they’re not receiving any of that calcium. Calcium and vitamin K2 work as a team to keep your bones strong and healthy.
Always tell your doctor if you are using a dietary supplement or if you are thinking about combining a dietary supplement with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on a dietary supplement. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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