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The big differences between vitamin K1 & K2

Have you read reports where they talk about vitamin K, but have you every queried by asking which vitamin K they are referring to?

This article will focus on vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Both are vital for good health, but both act differently. Nonetheless, in this article different foods will be names that contain each of these types of vitamins and what health benefits you could be gaining by consuming them.

But first, do you know what vitamin K is?

Simply put, vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble vitamins, which do share a related chemical structure. These vitamins were discovered in the 1920s and 1930s. This discovery come after a restricted diet in animals led to too much bleeding.

Of the different sorts of vitamin K two types are best know, namely vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K3 is toxic for humans. However, vitamin K1, which is also referred as phylloquinone is dominantly found in leafy green vegetables. But, vitamin K2 is found in mostly fermented foods as well as animal products. Our bodies, in our guts, can also produce this vitamin. There are different strains of vitamin K2, and these are called menaquinones, and they different on the length of their side chain and can range from KK-4 to MK-13.

In terms of the best sources of vitamin K1, it could be in plant sources. Good sources of this vitamin are kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, turnip greens and Brussels sprouts.

Vitamin K2, however, its sources vary by subtype. For instance, the subtype MK-4 is found in animal product and can only be produced by bacteria. Good sources of MK-4 are butter, egg yolks and chicken.

The subtypes from MK-5 to MK-15 have longer side chains. These subtypes are produced by bacteria and are found in fermented foods. A good source, for example for MK-7, is natto. This Japanese dish is made from fermented soybeans. Then again, some soft cheeses and even hard cheeses are good sources of vitamin K2, and more so of the subtypes MK-8 and MK-9. As for the subtype MK-10 and MK-11, pork is a good source of these subtypes.

Dissimilarity between vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 within the body

The key role of all the different sorts of vitamin K’s are to activate protein, which serve vital function in blood clotting, bone health and heart health. Nonetheless, there are differences in the absorption as well as the transference to tissues all over the body, vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 could have overwhelmingly diverse effects on your health.

Firstly, vitamin K1 that are sourced from plants are poorly absorbed. In fact, a mere 10% of vitamin K1 is actually absorbed. Research, however, believe that vitamin K2 is better absorbed than vitamin K1 since vitamin K2 is found in foods that contain fat. This is since vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. More so, fat-soluble vitamins are better absorbed when consumed in conjunction with dietary fat. Furthermore, vitamin K2, which has long chains, allows it to circulate in the blood longer than vitamin K1. Actually, vitamin K1 may stay in the blood for several hours; but some forms of vitamin K2 can continue to stay in the blood for days. This that vitamin K2 can remain longer in the blood stream means that it can better used in tissues located all over the body. Still, vitamin K1 is chiefly transported to and used by the liver.

The different health benefits of vitamin K1 and vitamin K2

The key health benefits of vitamin K include bone health, blood clotting, and heart health.

Blood clotting and vitamin K

There are different proteins that are active in blood clotting that are dependent on vitamin K to function correctly. Without the process of blood clotting you could bleed excessively and die form a minor injury. In some cases where people have blood clotting disorders have to take meds called warfarin to prevent blood from clotting effortlessly.

What is important to grasp here is that vitamin K1 is effective to thicken the blood to prevent extensive bleeding. But vitamin K2 thins the blood to prevent blood clotting. In fact, natto can have an effect for up to four days.

Bone health and vitamin K

Vitamin K2 is effective at moving the calcium from the veins to the bones. This means that the bones get stronger and lower the risk of bone fractures. Vitamin K1 however acts in the reverse. Foods like chickpeas are high in vitamin K1 and over time, and in high doses could lead to weakened bones. Therefore, sources of food like natto that are rich in vitamin K2 is better for bone health, but also stronger teeth.

Heart health and vitamin K

Vitamin K, more so vitamin K2, also plays an important part ensuring that your hearth is healthy. This is as vitamin K activates a protein that aid the prevent calcium from depositing in your arteries. These calcium deposits add to the growth of plaque, so it is not shocking that they are a resilient predictor of heart disease.

Lack of vitamin K

Having a vitamin K deficiency is rare in adults. It only happens to people that have severe malnutrition or mal-absorption, or as a side effect of the meds warfarin. The symptoms of a lack of vitamin K cold include bleeding.

The deficiency might not be the biggest issue; it might be more about the lack of vitamin K to the diet. This is as vitamin K can help prevent bones disorders such as osteoporosis and heart disease.

Ensuring you get enough vitamin K

Adult female needs around 90 mcg/day and men need 120 mcg/day of vitamin K1. To ensure that you are able to consume enough vitamin K, add spinach to a salad or to an omelet. Also, eat enough broccoli or Brussels sprouts. But eat our sources of vitamin K with fat like olive oil or egg yolks so you can absorb the vitamin K better.

As for vitamin K2, eat fermented foods like natto. Other sources are eggs, or fermented cheeses like Gouda, cheddar, blue cheese, and Edam. Alternatively, you can eat the dark meat of chicken, like the legs or thighs.

In terms of supplements, it is best to avoid them. Vitamin K2 in supplement form will convert to vitamin K1 in the body after four hours of taking them. More of a problem is that men that take vitamin K2 supplements could are increasing their risk for prostate cancer. Therefore, it is best to good for natural food.

Concluding remarks

Vitamin K2 are found in fermented foods and some animal sources, whereas vitamin K1 is found within leafy green vegetables. The formed is better absorbed than vitamin K1, and can remain in the body for longer.

Vitamin K1 thickens the blood whereas vitamin K2 thins the blood and makes your bones stronger, and improves your heart health.

About Jacques Dippenaar

Jacques is an influential health blogger and researcher helping readers explore interesting facts and information.

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