Foods with Vitamin K2
by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert
Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition. L2 Strength & Conditioning Coach.
In this article we look at the health benefits of vitamin K2 (Menaquinone) as a whole and some of the best food sources available.
K2 doesn't seem to be in the spotlight as much as C or D, but it's no less important.
This article shall discover the following:
- What is Vitamin K?
- How do they work for your body?
- How to incorporate it into your own diet?
- Vitamin K2 side effects
- Bottom line
It’s important for us all that we’re getting the right nutrients and minerals within our body on a daily basis. Our bodies produce some of these naturally, whilst others might need a little help in the form of food and supplements to give that extra boost needed.
Additionally, these are split in to water-soluble and fat soluble.
Vitamins include vitamin C plus B vitamins.  These cannot be stored in the body and need daily replenishment.
Like vitamin D, vitamin K is an essential nutrient that requires daily intake. 
Vitamin K is needed for all of us to ensure we remain as fit and healthy as we can be, whilst also living long and happy lives. Fat soluble vitamins have an impact on hormone levels, so fats are important to our diets.
In this article, we’ll be going in-depth, discussing the benefits of Vitamin K2 and how it can help the body in day to day life. If you’re interested in how you can help with your overall health and fitness, then read on.
What Is Vitamin K?
Before exploring Vitamin K2, it’s important to know where Vitamin K comes from, as there are two forms, one being K2 and the other being K1 - both have antioxidant properties.
Vitamin K was something that was surprisingly discovered pretty late on in 1929, and it’s one of the essential nutrients that’s needed in your body to help with blood clotting.
When we cut ourselves, we need our blood to be able to clot around the wound, otherwise we’d just bleed out. The letter K comes from Koagulationsvitamin, coined by dentist Weston Price.
As he traveled extensively around the world, he learnt that non-industrial diets were found to have Vitamin K in them that was helpful in protecting against tooth decay and chronic disease.
As it’s already been mentioned, there are two forms of Vitamin K, which are K1 and K2. K1 is usually found in plant foods , whereas K2 is found in animal and fermented foods.
There are also sub-types to K2, which we’ll explore further down in the article. So now that you have some basic knowledge of Vitamin K, it’s worth knowing how they work in the body.
How Does Vitamin K Work For Your Body?
As mentioned above, Vitamin K2 is essential in playing a role to help with blood clotting, but it can also help with calcium metabolism and overall heart health. 
We’re all very different, and every person’s body can perform differently. As it’s been discussed, you might produce more vitamin types than others would, but you could have a deficiency in a certain nutrient too.
The more balance and support you can provide to your body, the better and there’s always plenty that you can be doing throughout your life to keep it in check.
Looking after your body is something that only gets more important as you get older due to your body’s natural deterioration. So in order to get the most out of it, getting Vitamin K is just one vitamin that is essential to get into your body where possible.
As a function, one of it’s most important contributions is to help with calcium deposition. This is important for your body because you need this calcium for your bones and to also prevent calcification's when it comes to your kidneys and blood vessels.
Calcium is a key nutrient your body needs in order to have strong and healthy bones. After all, your bones are providing a lot of necessary support and protection to the rest of your body. Not only is it something that keeps you upright, but it’s also protecting your most vital organs. 
When it comes to vitamins K1 and K2, they work together but are separate in the nutrients that they provide. With K2, you find it mostly within fermented and animal foods. 
K2 is also responsible for helping to reduce blood vessel calcification where needed, whereas K1 doesn’t.  Having good healthy bones and heart are two critical things to keep your body feeling good for longer, so the more of this Vitamin K2 you can get into your body, the better.
The Benefits Of K2 For Your Health
There is a long list of benefits to having K2 in your body that can go beyond what you think it can do for you. Feeling good both mentally and physically is important, and this nutrient can provide that for you in abundance. So if you need convincing of why you need more Vitamin K2 in your life, then check out these benefits.
Although no human studies have been tested to confirm this, researchers do believe that K2 can be helpful in bettering your dental health as a whole. 
As we know, Vitamin K2 is good when it comes to bone metabolism and ensuring that your bones have enough nutrients in them. As well as that, you’ve got calcium, which is a very important nutrient for your bones to have, which include your teeth.
One main protein in dental health is osteocalcin, and that is activated by Vitamin K2. It’s a critical protein to your bone metabolism and a perfect example of how K2 can work with other vitamins and supplements that you might be taking or that your body naturally produces. 
Stimulating the growth of new dentin is important to ensure that your teeth remain strong and that you hopefully have beautiful gnashers for as long as possible.
Osteocalcin triggers this, and so it’s why it can be very helpful to incorporate more K2 foods where you can. And why wouldn’t you want to look after your teeth more? They are, after all, a very dominant feature when it comes to your face.
Unless you’ve skipped everything up until this point in the article, then you’ll know that Vitamin K2 is good for the bones, due to its calcium benefits. One of the troubling problems that come from a lack of calcium is osteoporosis.
This is otherwise known as porous bones and can be risky to have as you get older. You see, no one has managed to cheat death or aging for that matter, and although there are preventative measures for aging, your body is deteriorating, and there’s really nothing you can do to stop it.
With that being said, lowering the risk of osteoporosis is important because it reduces to risk of fractures in your body.
Fracturing a bone when you’re younger is a lot more easier to recover from, than fracturing a bone when you’re a lot older. With Vitamin K2, this metabolism of calcium is crucial to ensuring you reduce these porous bones as much as possible. 
Vitamin K2 works to bind two proteins together that can help to build and maintain your bones. The condition of osteoporosis is one that can be more common within women than in men. 
So by taking more supplements or eating foods rich in K2, you’re going to help build that density within your bones. It’s going to make you feel stronger, and your body is going to be a lot stronger as you head into your golden years.
Reducing any type of fractures can be important because getting one at an older age can be more damaging and potentially life-threatening. That’s something that you want to try and avoid at all costs where possible.
The heart is an organ that’s keeping you alive. Without your heart, there’s no blood pumping around the body, and so without it, you’re pretty much stuck. It’s important to avoid calcium build-up in areas where you don’t need it, yet this can develop in some people.
Any type of calcium build-up that starts forming in the arteries around your heart is a big no-no and something that could increase your risk of a stroke and other cardiovascular risk ailments as the artery walls stiffen. 
This is also something you want to pay particular attention to if you’re someone with a history of heart problems within the family medical history. It’s certainly something that’s worth asking family about if you’re not knowledgeable of family medical problems, past and present.
Reducing this calcium build-up is, therefore, key to ensuring your own demise isn’t due to any form of heart disease. Anything that is able to reduce this is certainly worth taking, and Vitamin K is believed to be able to do just that.
Studies have been done that have tested high intakes of K2, and it’s suggested that the development of calcium in arteries was lower than those who didn’t increase their intake. It also showed that those individuals who took more K2 (not K1) were less at risk from dying of a heart disease. 
Even though these studies aren’t completely conclusive, they do offer a strong argument for getting more K2 into your body.
Fight Against Cancer
The dreaded C-word is something we hope none of our loved ones will get, but sadly it comes in many forms and is disastrous for many of those who have to battle through it. In fact nearly 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in the US. 
Some are overpowered, and some are able to beat it, however, if you can take the steps to prevent it from forming, then it’s certainly worth doing where you can. In Western countries, cancer is a common cause of death, and most people will know of someone who has had cancer or has died from cancer within their lifetime. 
It’s great that modern medicine is continuing to find ways of battling all types of cancers so that hopefully, there will be enough knowledge in place to get rid of it without it getting rid of the individual diagnosed with it.
There have been several studies done when it comes to cancer and how K2 may be able to contribute to reducing the risk of certain types of cancer. Liver cancer is one that K2 could help with when it comes to ensuring it doesn’t reoccur in the body. 
There are also links to prostate cancer and how a high vitamin intake of K2 might also be helpful in reducing the risk of getting it. 
Even though studies have been done, they’ve not been done to the extent that’s needed, but it’s certainly something to consider when it comes to taking this nutrient more often and in different ways.
Our kidneys are an organ that can have high concentrations of K2 in them. It’s important that you have K2 in these organs because they help remove calcium and more importantly, stop kidney stones from developing. 
For anyone who has had kidney stones, they’ll certainly know the pain that comes with them. If you’re deficient in K2, then you may want to look at trying to get more into your diet as it might be the thing you need to feel healthier and to reduce the risk of any kidney diseases.
Another area that might benefit from Vitamin K2 is when it comes to your insulin sensitivity and blood glucose.
When the bone is reabsorbed, osteocalcin is released and it acts as a hormone to the tissues which help with your insulin sensitivity and the glucose in your blood.  It’s worth looking into how K2 might be able to benefit you in this way.
Anxiety and depression
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. If our mental well-being is compromised, then it might even be more damaging towards our physical health too. 
We all deal with mental health in different ways, and the struggle of depression and anxiety is something that should always be taken seriously. Thankfully, there are a lot more open talks regarding mental health and the importance of doing more for your mental health where you can.
With high blood glucose levels, this is something that can increase the person’s risk of depression and anxiety. So with that being said, bringing that level down where doable is needed. There are again, studies that have been done but not on human beings.
There are suggestions that those with high blood glucose levels may benefit from the treatment that nutrient K2 provides in certain foods and supplements.
A large cohort study linking K2 to mental health saw that higher dietary K2 intake was associated with reduced depressive symptoms and improved cognitive function. 
Being able to reduce anxiety and depression is certainly something that many people who do suffer from it would want to do. A healthier mind can help towards a healthier heart and body.
How To Incorporate Menaquinone Into Your Own Diet
With all the information on how it’s beneficial to your body and mind, it’s now time to cover where K2 exists and how you can get this vitamin, into your body.
Vitamin K2 is a lot less common than that of Vitamin K1. With Vitamin K1, you can get this by consuming plant foods like leafy greens.  It’s something that’s much more widely available and that more people will likely eat regularly than turning away from.
It’s worth knowing that your body can convert some of the K1 in your body to K2, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid looking for foods that contain just K2. So with that said, what foods have K2 in them?
As mentioned above, a lot of fermented foods can contain high levels of K2 in them, and one of these would be fermented soybeans. 
There are lots of dishes that you can create using these, and fermented foods are highly popular in parts of India as well as Japan.
That interest has slowly started spreading to more of the Western countries due to modern-day travel and testing the taste-buds with something different than the norm. Fermented soybeans can help promote good gut health and is going to give you a good intake of K2.
For anyone who loves cheese, then you’ll certainly enjoy knowing that K2 has some of the highest in cheese itself. 
It, therefore, makes it something that is good for those who don’t eat animals but will eat by-products. As well as having K2, cheese also contains healthy doses of calcium and Vitamin A.
It, of course, varies from cheese to cheese depending on the type, and its age. However, it’s definitely a food that’s universally enjoyed by many on a regular basis. So the next time you see some cheese, make sure you pick up some Camembert or Edam.
Not everyone eats animals, and that can be somewhat of a challenge when it comes to K2. However, as it’s been proven above, there are still plenty of food options to choose from in order to get your daily intake that’s needed to keep the body fit and healthy.
Chicken is certainly a good option for those who want to avoid any organ meats that contain K2, like liver, for example. If you’re a regular meat-eater, try switching to more chicken over other meats like beef or pork. 
One of the most common foods that most people will consume and enjoy is butter. Now, you’ll certainly find butter in most daily meals somewhere.
Whether it’s spreading it onto your toast in the morning or cooking with it, there are some essential micrograms of K2 in butter that are worth having. It’s worth noting though that like cheese, butter can always be heavy in calories and that’s something you want to moderate closely. 
If you’re a big fan of eggs, then you’ll be pleased to know that the egg yolk itself is high in K2. 
Not everyone likes the egg white or egg yolk, and so it might be a case of having to cut around it if you don’t like egg whites. However, egg yolks can easily be mixed into different dishes, as well as in baking. That means you’ve got more options to get it into your diet in certain ways.
This is just a brief round-up of foods that contain Vitamin K2 and so just taking some of these can be helpful to incorporate into your diet.
The more of these foods you eat, the better intake you’re going to get. If the food above and any other food options aren’t something you’d have or are available to you, then seeking out supplements are an alternative.
With supplements, it’s always good to be careful when picking out the right ones. Make sure that your buy something that has been developed through extensive research and the nutrients do not fall within a proprietary blend.
Dietary supplements are a great way of getting those essential nutrients into your body without having to switch up the food you eat when it comes to your diet. And even though some of this food is affordable, not all of it can be and so it’s worth looking for more affordable options where necessary in supplements.
If you need help, we have a guide on how to buy supplements safely online, here.
The Benefits Of Vitamin K2 For Your Fitness
We’ve talked about how Vitamin K2 can be good for your health but what about fitness in particular. As well as having a healthy diet when it comes to your food, this goes hand in hand with your fitness routine.
We all need to get our daily intake of exercise, whether it’s light exercise that you incorporate into daily chores to going to the gym and having a cardio workout.
But what does K2 have to do with fitness? Well, there have been studies done that demonstrate an increased energy level within your body with higher intakes of Vitamin K2. 
Life can get busy, and as such for some, exercise can get pushed down to the bottom of the priority pile. With that being said, if you’re taking more vitamin K2, it might need the burst of energy you need to go out for that evening running session or to take up a new fitness class.
Your body’s energy levels are important, and K2 can help to restore this, whether it’s through what you eat or what you take as a supplement. It’s something that’s definitely worth trying out to see if it makes much of a difference to your fitness and how much you get to do in your daily life.
One particular study when it comes to fitness and Vitamin K2 is that they found an individual taking 300mg of K2 for four weeks and then reducing it to 150mg for another four weeks increased cardiac output by 12%. 
Your heart is responsible for getting the blood pumping and the stronger it is, the better you’re likely to perform when it comes to exercise. If you’re someone who is looking to get fitter but needs the energy, then it’s worth testing out this study by increasing your intake of the K2 nutrient.
Using Vitamin K For Body Building
A lot of popularity for Vitamin K2 has come from the world of body building. If you’re someone interested in pursuing body building or you’re looking at ways to benefit your training, it’s worth knowing about K2.
It’s worth making sure the food you eat has some fat to it so that it can react with the Vitamin K2 to benefit the body. Steroid usage, which is often common of body building, it’s good to supplement your diet with K2 as this might fight against some of the calcium build-up that can come from too much steroid usage in the body. 
It’s also worth noting that K2 might also be popular for those of an athletic nature when it comes to competing in competitions and sport on a professional level. As K2 can help with your energy levels, calcium density and more, it’s all the necessary stuff that’s needed to keep the body strong and healthy. And that’s certainly a must-have for any athlete or body-builder that relies on their body for competitive reasons or just for hobby.
Further study also hints at K2 having a role in preventing the reduction of natural testosterone production often seen with age. 
Are There Side Effects To Vitamin K2?
Too much of anything is never a good thing, and as we’re all a little different, side effects can occur in the things we take and consume.
For the most part, K2 can be pretty harmless, however, there are a few common side effects that can occur and that are worth knowing about.
Most people, when eating or consuming a supplement, won’t experience any side effects, but there are those who have had an upset stomach or suffered with diarrhea. Neither is life-threatening but can often be uncomfortable.
It’s important that you’re checking an increase in K2 is needed when it comes to approaching your medical health professional. They will be able to tell you if you need less or more of it in places and especially when you’re taking it along with other supplements or medication.
However, overall, when K2 was supplemented in clinical trials there have been no reported adverse events. 
This comes as some comfort when it is reported that up to 97% older people are deficient in K. 
It’s always essential to do your research but to also ask medical professionals before you start taking supplements or potentially overdoing it with certain vitamins and minerals.
Does Menaquinone Work Well With Other Vitamins?
You may have noticed that the Vitamin K2 has been mentioned alongside some vitamins already as being useful to work alongside with.
Again, it’s always good to check what you’re introducing to your body with a medical professional, just to ensure it’s not affecting anything else you currently take.
Vitamin D3 is a great vitamin to take alongside K2 because it helps ensure that the calcium is absorbed easily into the body and therefore reaches the bone mass. It ensures that your bones and heart stay as healthy and possible, so it’s certainly worth taking.
Studies are finding that they are more effective when taken together than individually. 
This is something that interacts with Vitamin K and therefore shouldn’t be taken with K2. Warfarin is used to slow blood clotting and so by using it with Vitamin K, it could hinder the effects that Warfarin has if it’s trying to help your body with a particular problem. 
People who are taking drugs such as cephalosporins and salicylates may affect the absorption of vitamin K.
If you want to supplement K2 and you are on antibiotics, speak to a medical professional who ca assess your situation, remember, everyone's case is unique.
Talking of drugs, there are also some drugs that you might want to be wary of when it comes to using them alongside K2. For example, any blood thinners are going to be less effective with the use of K2. There’s also some antibiotics, asprin and drugs that are used for things like cancer and high cholesterol, that might be worth consulting your doctor about before increasing your K2 intake.
So What’s The Bottom Line?
It’s pretty obvious that any vitamins and minerals you get extra into your body, is going to be beneficial in some way.
Vitamin K, although discovered only in the last one hundred or so years, is still proving to increase in popularity. If it’s isn’t for general health and well-being, it’s also very beneficial for those with a love of fitness and keeping the body in peak condition at all times.
Vitamin K containing two vitamins K1 and K2 should be something you’re getting plenty of. Scientists have thrown in their two cents when it comes the use of K2 in that it can be worth having as a supplement to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
So what have you learnt about K2?
Well apart from it having it’s major health benefits, its something that can be easily sourced if you’re looking in the right places. Not only can it benefit your heart, but it also may be able to fight off diseases like cancer and other life-threatening conditions. Anything that you can do to better your health is something worth trying.
If you’re considering more K2 nutrients into your diet, then start looking at the foods mentioned in this article. Explore what other food types are available and start making the small changes to your diet where possible.
If you do take more K2, be sure it doesn’t mess with any current medications or vitamins you’re taking and that you note the difference you feel and see in your body.
In order to maintain a healthy diet and body, be sure to get more of vitamin K in your body where possible. It could contribute to a longer and healthier life all around, and that’s something we all can certainly benefit from, right?