Vitamins are a group of substances that are essential for normal cell function, growth, and development. There are 13 essential vitamins. The essential vitamins are those vitamins which are needed by the body for normal functions. Vitamins are divided into two categories: Fat soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D, E, and K) and water soluble vitamins (vitamin B, C and 7 other). Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body fat while water soluble vitamins leave the body through urine. Every vitamin has an important job in the body. A vitamin deficiency occurs when you do not get enough of a certain vitamin. Vitamin deficiency can cause health problems.
Vitamin K is an essential lipid soluble vitamin. Vitamin K plays an important role in blood coagulation and maintain bone health. It is found in green plant like green leafy vegetables, oils of cotton seeds, olive, soybean, fish, eggs and other animal foods. Many people are unaware of the health benefits of vitamin K and this vitamin is underrated and misunderstood by scientists and the general public until very recently.
There are basically 5 forms of vitamin K; two are natural and three are synthetic. Naturally occurring vitamin K are K1 (phylloquinone or phytonadione) and K2 ( also known as menaquinone). The synthetic VK (vitamin K) are K3 (menadione), K4 and K5. VK3 is toxic to humans, but all these synthetic VK are water soluble and are used for the treatment of animals like poultry.
The role of magnesium (Mg) and vitamin D on calcium metabolism is known from decades, but the role of vitamins in calcium regulation is recognized recently. Researches carried out extensively on vitamin K during the last decade and found that vitamin K has a role in calcium regulation. Vitamin K helps in keeping a right balance of calcium in bones and blood avoiding pathological conditions of the cardiovascular system.
All fat-soluble vitamins (A, D and E) are stored in the body fat except vitamin K. This vitamin is also not recycled by the body in significant amounts, so deficiency of this fat-soluble vitamin is common. Vitamin K deficiency can occur at any stage of life but it is seen mostly in infants. Vitamin K deficiency in infants is extremely dangerous as it can lead to bleeding in the brain and other vital organs. In adults there are several causes of vitamin K deficiency: cholestatic disease, chronic illness, parenchymal liver disease, Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC), malnutrition, malabsorption, cystic fibrosis and use some antibiotics.
Inadequate levels of vitamin K2 can lead to arteriosclerosis, a condition in which arteries become hard and less flexible, and osteoporosis. These conditions are the result of excessive calcium in the blood rather than in the bones. Vitamin K2 is an excellent calcium regulator. Osteocalcin is a bone matrix protein which is utilized within the bone as an integral part of bone formation. This protein undergoes gamma carboxylation with calcium before it becomes effective. Vitamin K functions as cofactor in carboxylation of osteocalcin.
The results of human clinical researches have shown that the use of vitamin K2 MK-4 along with vitamin D may reduce bone loss considerably. So, if you're concerned about your bones then you must pay attention to balance this nutritional triad: Vitamin D, vitamin K and calcium. The increased amount of calcium is good for your bones but excess of it is harmful to the arteries, as these can be calcified. But, vitamin K protects arteries from calcification by regulating calcium levels.
It is somewhat probable that someone develops an allergic reaction with vitamin K2, but there is no toxicity associated with high doses of this vitamin. Both vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 (and its analogs MK-4, Mk-7 etc.) found naturally and organically and they are non toxic. But, it is not true for vitamin K3 (menadione), it is toxic and can interfere with glutathione. Glutathione is a natural antioxidant which protects cell membranes from oxidative damages.
Extensive research on vitamin K over the last few decades has shown an emerging role in the treatment of osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. Several clinical trials from Japan have shown that vitamin K2 supplements may reduce vertebral fractures up to 60% and reduce hip and other non-vertebral fractures up to 80%.