You may have noticed that it’s becoming more common to see vitamin D3 with K2 instead of vitamin D on its own. But do you know why these two nutrients go together like peas and carrots?
You probably already know that vitamin D is an important factor in calcium absorption. A lesser known fact is this: K2 is critical in helping us deposit that calcium in the right places.
You don’t have to take our word for it. Once upon a time, we talked with naturopathic doc Kate Rhéaume on our Holistic Navigator podcast. We learned why K2 is important, why we pair it with D3, and how to leverage it for optimum health. Here are our key takeaways from that conversation.
I THINK THAT AWARENESS AROUND VITAMIN K2 STILL NEEDS TO BE INCREASED, ESPECIALLY AMONG HEALTHCARE PRACTITIONERS, AND IT’S A BIG MISSING PIECE TO THE PUZZLE FOR OSTEOPOROSIS, HEART DISEASE, AND KIDNEY DISEASE. -DR. KATE RHÉAUME, N.D. Click To Tweet
Why do we need vitamin K2?
Vitamin K2 instructs your body to deposit calcium from your bloodstream into your bones and teeth. That calcium is what gives our bones density and strength.
Vitamin K2 is also vital for preventing the buildup of calcium in blood vessel walls – both by limiting the amount of calcium deposited and also by facilitating the removal of excess calcium. It has been shown to lower the risk of vascular damage associated with atherosclerosis.
Who should exercise caution with vitamin K supplements?
Before we talk about increasing K intake, it’s important to note that people on some medications, such as some blood thinners, should not take K2 supplements. If your doctor has told you to avoid leafy greens, you may be in this category.
Aspirin and other medications like Plavix or Xarelto typically are not affected by K2, but always check with a healthcare pro. We always advise folks to work with a doctor when implementing new health products.
What are some of the signs of K2 deficiency?
Ok, this might be a bit of a trick question. Why? There aren’t very many outward signs of vitamin K2 deficiency. Perhaps this is the reason education on this important nutrient is lacking. We just don’t see the effects very easily.
Dr. Kate did tell us that anecdotally, she sees a reduction in tooth sensitivity in patients who add a K2. She also shared that more medical research is needed to formally establish that link. If you add a K2 supplement to your diet and it reduces tooth sensitivity for you, be sure to let us know!
Severe deficiency, although rare, can show up as easy bruising or lack of clotting. Since a deficiency can also reduce bone mineralization, it can lead to or exacerbate osteoporosis.
I eat plenty of greens. Do I still need to take Vitamin K?
Customers often ask us if they still need a K2 supplement if they eat lots of leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli and brussels sprouts. The answer is yes. Leafy greens are important, but they give us vitamin K1. They do not provide K2!
Dietary sources of K2 include natto (fermented soy), chicken breast, sauerkraut, kefir, gouda, blue cheese, egg yolks, chicken liver, butter, salami, and ground beef.
But there’s another important source of K2 – your gut! This article published by the National Library of Medicine explains that certain gut bacteria convert K1 to K2, so keep eating those delicious leafy greens and fermented foods!
For Extra Credit: This study on mice published by Science Direct shows some results that may indicate K2 could have neuroprotective effects, as well as the ability to correct gut dysbiosis.
What are the differences between vitamin K1 and K2?
There are actually two types of K vitamins – K1 and K2. K1’s primary role is in the formation of blood clots, and as Dr. Rhéaume shared, K1 deficiency is rare.
K2 is a different animal. Its job is to make sure calcium in our bloodstream gets deposited in our bones and teeth. Without adequate levels of K2, calcium can get deposited in the wrong places, like our heart, arteries, and liver. This calcification process can be quite detrimental to health and longevity.
Why is combining vitamin D3 with K2 so important?
Now we know what K2 is and how it benefits our health. But how is it connected to vitamin D?
Here, friends, is where K2 becomes vitally important. Even life-saving in some instances.
Most of us these days know that vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium. We’ve been adding vitamin D to milk going back to the 1930’s. We know now that without K2 to help the calcium integrate into bone, we can actually cause damage.
Without K2, the great extra calcium we’ve added to our modern diet can bypass the bones looking for a home. Unfortunately, it can then end up in the heart, arteries or even the brain. This can lead to – or exacerbate cardiovascular disease or cirrhosis of the liver.
Fortunately, this newer knowledge has brought us a great selection of supplements that contain both vitamin D3 and K2.
Are there side effects if we take vitamin K?
There are no known toxic side effects of vitamin K. As Dr. Kate mentioned in our podcast, there have been reports of stomach upset with high doses of vitamin K. However, there is no need to take high doses of K2.
Try Our Thorne Vitamin D3/K2 Liquid
Does vitamin K thicken your blood?
The short answer is no. vitamin K will not thicken your blood or increase your risk of blood clots. Customers often ask us about this, because they know that vitamin K deficiency can interfere with clotting.
If you’re not taking any medications that thin your blood, there’s no need to worry. vitamin K actually regulates your blood so that it’s not too thin or too thick.
Who Should Take vitamin K2
K2 is one of our top recommendations (unless you take certain blood thinners) for all customers. Especially for folks over 40. As we age, making sure we’re depositing calcium in the right places becomes more and more important.
Calcification of arteries and organs is a significant contributor to the chronic health epidemic we have in this country. We always recommend adding K2 when using a vitamin D supplement.
How do I select a quality vitamin D3 with K2 supplement?
These days, we have a great variety of vitamin D supplements that include high quality K2. The combo helps to ensure you’re getting the right ratio of vitamin d3 to vitamin K2.
Each of our brands is thoroughly vetted. We want to be sure you get the safest and most effective products the market has to offer.
We love Natural Factors D3&K2. Thorne Vitamin D/K2 Liquid is another popular pick. For Vitamin K only products, Life Extension Super K with Advanced K Complex is a customer favorite. Or, you can try our vegan option from Enzymedica.
Ready to take the plunge?
Our associates and consultants at Nutrition World here in Chattanooga, Tennessee would love to help you take control of your health. We’re happy to help you choose the best Vitamin D and K2 product for your needs and your lifestyle. Come by and see us or shop our extensive selection online. Salud!
You can catch the full podcast episode with Dr. Kate over at The Holistic Navigator.