By Pamela Avonne Williams, M.P.H.
If you have yet to add vitamin K2 (menaquinone) to your daily regimen, now is a good time to start. Why? Researchers are still reeling in the details on why we should include this vitamin in our diets.
However, a quick review of the literature will show us that vitamin K helps maintain bone and blood health and within the past few years, researchers have identified additional benefits.
Recently, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition described the role of vitamin K2 in helping to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In the Heidelberg Cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, researchers kept records of food intake of 11,319 men. During an 8.6-year period, 268 cases of prostate cancer were identified and 113 of these cases were advanced cancer stages.
The researchers noted that those with advanced stages of prostate cancer benefited from including vitamin K2 in their diets. Those who consumed a more popular form called vitamin K1 or phylloquinone did not demonstrate this benefit. This is important in the research of vitamin K2 and prostate health since epidemiological studies in this area had never been conducted before.1
Another area of research discussed in Longevity Medicine Review highlighted an animal study. This study reported that mechanisms involving bone metabolism may also be involved in controlling energy metabolism. Mice that genetically produce a low level of pancreatic ß-cells are usually glucose intolerant and insulin resistant. Vitamin K2 can help improve these conditions by jumpstarting a protein called osteocalcin. This protein is produced by osteoblasts or cells that build bones. Osteocalcin also plays a role in producing pancreatic ß-cells. The presence of these cells helps to improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity and in turn helps to control energy metabolism.
And in yet another area of study also reported in Longevity Medicine Review is the vitamin K2 connection to wrinkle reduction. How does this vitamin connect? It is necessary to have vitamin K2 present in our bodies so that it can activate Matrix y-carboxyglutamic acid protein or MGP. This protein keeps calcium from accumulating in elastin fibers. Elastin helps our skin stay smooth and prevent wrinkles. This function of MGP is what we see when vitamin K2 helps to preserve our blood vessels in cardiovascular health.2
Another quick point to mention is that as we age our wrinkles increase and so does our need for vitamin K. Consuming a diet rich in dark green leafy vegetables, for example, won’t supply us with the vitamin K2 we need to achieve these results. By adding a quality vitamin K2 supplement to our daily regimen, we cannot only support bone and blood health, we can also achieve other desirables that positively affect overall health. Isn’t it fascinating how this one nutrient can provide so many benefits to the body?
- Nimptsch K, Rohrmann, S and Linseisen J. Dietary intake of vitamin K and risk of prostate cancer in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg). AJCN 2008 April;87(4):985-992.
- Vitamin K. Longevity Medicine Review www.lmreview.com
Last accessed: August 24, 2009