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The Essential Role of Vitamin K2

Updated: May 19, 2022

Vitamins are a group of organic substances that are required for normal growth and development, maintenance of life as well as normal reproduction. There are two categories of vitamins – water soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins.

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that is absorbed into the body with the aid of bile acid, a kind of fluid used to absorb fat. There are two types of Vitamin K – K1 and K2. Vitamin K1, which is also known as phylloquinone, helps to maintain healthy blood clotting and is normally found in green leafy plants. Vitamin K2, or menaquinone, is made by bacteria that lines the gastrointestinal tract. It goes into blood vessel walls as well as bones and helps to optimise bone health. The primary source of Vitamin K2 is from natto, a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans.

Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis var. natto. Some eat it for breakfast, which is served with soy sauce, karashi mustard and Japanese bunching onion.

Vitamin K2 is a newly discovered essential vitamin that has been proven to optimally bind calcium to bones. This keeps them dense and strong, which lessens the risk of fracture due to ageing. Vitamin K2, particularly in its menaquinone-7 (MK-7) form, is derived from the fermentation process of natto and it prevents excessive calcium accumulation in the arteries. In the absence of Vitamin K2, calcium is not able to adhere properly to bones, which may cause a build-up of calcium in the blood vessels that could eventually lead to cardiovascular diseases.

Vitamin K2 is also vital for growing children who are still developing their primary and adult teeth, proper facial form and strong bones. It is also important for women who are at risk of bone fracture. Population-based studies have shown that women in Japan who consume larger amounts of natto have generally shown lower rates of bone fractures.

Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine” vitamin. It helps to keep bones and muscles strong and healthy. The best source of Vitamin D would be from exposure to sunlight, especially in tropical countries like Malaysia. However, it’s not surprising that Malaysians might have insufficient Vitamin D as most white-collar workers spend all day in the office and not under the sun. The natural form of Vitamin D is Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which is also the form that our bodies produce. Supplementation of Vitamin D3 helps to enhance calcium absorption from the intestine in order to build and maintain strong bones.

Undeniably, calcium is the essential dietary supplement for improving bone health. However, recent studies have shown that supplementing with calcium alone is not enough as our bodies require other elements like Vitamin K2 and Vitamin D to optimise the use of calcium to ensure it is directed to and utilised by the bones. Therefore, the combination of Vitamin K2, Vitamin D3 and calcium is a winning combo to keep your bones healthy and prevent bone fractures during old age.

Besides taking calcium, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 to improve bone health, a healthy lifestyle is also important for treating and preventing osteoporosis. The best exercise for bones is a weight-bearing exercise that forces you to work against gravity. Some examples of weight-bearing exercises include weight training, walking, hiking and climbing staircases. In addition, quit smoking and avoid excessive consumption of alcohol to significantly reduce the risk of bone fractures.

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