Healthy Aging

Vitamin K: The Importance of Menaquinone-7 (MK-7) for Robust Health As You Age

Bone & Muscle Defense

Bone & Muscle Defense

Protects and supports muscle and bone health

$79.95

Vitamin K: The Importance of Menaquinone-7 (MK-7) for Robust Health As You Age about Bone & Muscle Defense

Vitamin K is a supplement that causes a lot of confusion. For one thing, many people still don't hear much about this vitamin while others think its only role is to address bleeding or clotting disorders. However, there's much more to vitamin K than meets the eye.

Vitamin K is really an anti-aging vitamin. The latest research shows that it can help you prevent early aging and the conditions that go with it.

Today we'll do a deep dive into this little-known vitamin and show you why the experts are saying vitamin K is so important to your health. In addition, you'll learn why not all forms of vitamin K are the same and how to increase your dietary intake of vitamin K to ensure you feel great for years to come.

Key Takeaways

  • Vitamin K comes in three forms -- Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone), vitamin K2 (menaquinone), and also vitamin K3... the synthetic form of vitamin K.

  • Vitamin K2, and specifically menaquinone-7 (MK-7), are uniquely synthesized by bacteria and are more bioavailable to your body due to long chain menaquinones. They contain something called isoprene units according to the numeral following the MK. In other words, MK-7 has 7 isoprene units. It's thought to be the most bioavailable form of vitamin K.

  • MK-7 offers many health benefits... cardiovascular health and preventing calcium buildup in your arteries, bone health and protection against osteoporosis, fighting inflammation, safeguarding your brain and memory, and mediating peripheral neuropathy and diabetes. That's a lot, so let's get going.

What Is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble group of K vitamins that play key roles in the body -- especially for blood clotting, bones, and cardiovascular health. In fact, vitamin K got it's name for the German word koagulation because a German medical journal is where vitamin K's role in blood clotting was first reported.

Vitamin K acts as a cofactor that's required for the carboxylation reaction of vitamin K dependent proteins. Now that's a mouthful. What it really means is this...

Imagine you have a big puzzle but each piece requires a special helper to make it fit right. In our bodies, vitamin K is that special helper. It helps important proteins, called Vitamin-K dependent proteins, do their job well. Vitamin K in essence "holds their hands" and guides them to where they should go, and keeps them away from places they shouldn't go.

Without enough Vitamin K, the Vitamin K dependent proteins can't do their job properly, which can lead to some pretty significant health problems.

Three Types of Vitamin K

Vitamin K exists in three primary forms known as vitamers, including:

  1. Vitamin K1 (Phylloquinone): Vitamin K1 is found in plant foods -- primarily green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli. It's also called phylloquinone. Vitamin K1 is involved in blood clotting (coagulation factors) as a cofactor for the enzyme responsible for clotting in the liver. K1 promotes normal clotting function and prevents excessive bleeding.

  2. Vitamin K2 (Menaquinone): Vitamin K2 refers to a group of compounds known as long chain menaquinones, which are formed by bacteria. These bacteria live in the human gut and are also used to ferment certain foods. Long chain menaquinones have various side chain lengths, denoted as MK-n, where n represents the number of isoprenoid or isoprene units in the side chain. For example, MK-4, MK-7, MK-9, etc. So, while MK-7 is one type of vitamin K2, vitamin K2 encompasses a broader group of compounds including MK-4, MK-8, MK-9, and others.

    The most well-known and studied forms of vitamin K2 are MK-4 and the long chain menaquinones in MK-7. Vitamin K2, especially the MK-7 form, plays some key roles in your body... it regulates how you metabolize calcium plus it supports bone and cardiovascular health.

  3. Vitamin K3 (Menadione): Vitamin K3, also known as menadione or menaphthone, is the synthetic form of vitamin K. K3 is not recommended as dietary supplements due to its potential toxicity and synthetic form.

Which Vitamin K is Best For Health?

Among the various forms of vitamin K2 menaquinones, MK-7 (menaquinone-7) is known for having a long half life compared to other forms such as MK-4 (menaquinone-4).

The long half-life of MK-7 comes from its chemical structure of longer chain menaquinones. MK-7 has a longer side chain composed of seven isoprenoid units, which lets it circulate in the bloodstream for longer compared to shorter-chain menaquinones like MK-4. This long circulation time helps MK-7 be more efficiently absorbed and used by the body, and helps you reach peak serum concentration.

This helps contribute to various physiological processes in the body, including blood clotting, bone metabolism, and cardiovascular health. However, MK-7 serum levels depend on various factors including your gut microbiota, diet, and the presence of other nutrients that may enhance or inhibit its absorption. More on this in a minute...

Health Benefits of MK-7

Vitamin K2-7, also known as menaquinone-7 (MK-7) is the form of vitamin K that has many health benefits. Clinical studies link vitamin K2-7 to reducing fracture risk and improving cardiovascular health and supporting balanced blood sugar... among other benefits. Let's take a closer look at the science and see how it can help you.

close up of hand with cardiogram on red heart

Boosts Your Heart and Cardio-vascular Health

The MK-7 form of vitamin K2 supports heart and cardiovascular health through several mechanisms within your vascular system. For example, it:

  1. Keeps calcium out of your arteries: A key mechanism by which MK-7 supports cardiovascular health is by inhibiting calcium deposits on the walls of blood vessels, a process known as vascular calcification. MK-7 activates matrix Gla-protein (MGP), one of the vitamin K-dependent proteins, which plays a key role in preventing the inappropriate build-up of calcium in artery walls. 

  2. Reduces your risk of artery clogs: Clogged arteries are closely linked to aging and cardiovascular disease. By preventing the process of artery hardening and helping your body keep the arterial vessel wall squeaky clean, MK-7 reduces arterial stiffness triggered by calcium deposits. This means better vascular function, cleaner vessel walls... and a lower risk of problem blood pressure and other heart dangers.

  3. Lowers inflammation: MK-7 acts as an anti-inflammatory within the cardiovascular system. As you probably know, chronic inflammation plays a big role in cardiovascular disease. Research suggests that MK-7 as a dietary supplement may reduce inflammatory cytokines and modulate inflammatory pathways... thereby strengthening heart health.

  4. Regulates blood clotting : Vitamin K, including MK-7, is essential for the activation of clotting factors. Proper blood clotting prevents excessive bleeding. But poor regulation of clotting factors can increase the risk of the formation of blood clots within blood vessels, leading to dangerous heart problems. MK-7 helps support normal clotting function and therefore, heart health.

  5. Supports healthy cholesterol: Some studies suggest that MK-7 as dietary supplements may have beneficial effects on lipid metabolism, including reducing levels of LDL cholesterol (often referred to as "bad" cholesterol) and triglycerides, while increasing levels of HDL cholesterol (often referred to as "good" or "happy" cholesterol). Controlling these lipid levels may contribute to the overall heart health benefits of MK-7.

So, from an overall view, MK-7 slows vascular calcification, improves arterial flexibility, quells inflammation, regulates blood clotting, and supports healthy cholesterol. These actions support healthy blood vessels and optimal heart function.

Strengthens Bone Mineral Content

Osteoblastic cells (also called osteoblasts) help you form new bones and add growth to existing bones. Osteoclastic or osteoclasts (different by one important letter)are of particular importance because they help dissolve old or damaged bone tissue so it can be replaced by new bone tissue.

Vitamin K supplements, especially MK-7, are well-known for reducing fracture risk in osteoporosis, a chronic condition defined by porous bone and weak bone mineral content. Osteoporosis affects older people, even otherwise healthy postmenopausal women.

Structure of osteoporosis bones. Generative AI

According to research, K2 boosts your bone health while it prevents bone fracture. In a review of the scientific literature, researchers used PubMed and Google Scholar databases as primary sources to select the relevant studies and review the link between vitamin K2 and bone health. They also examined the impact of Vitamin K supplementation and GLA proteins in osteoporosis.

Your vitamin K status affects your overall bone health, bone mineral density, and your risk of fracture.

How MK-7 Works In Your Bones

  1. Activates osteocalcin: One of the primary ways MK-7 supports bone health is by activating osteocalcin, a vitamin K-dependent protein. Osteocalcin is a protein made by bone-building cells called osteoblasts. Osteocalcin shuttles more calcium into our bones, making them stronger and harder. So, MK-7 helps bones get the calcium they need to be strong.

  2. Regulates calcium metabolism: MK-7 helps regulate calcium metabolism, which is needed for bone density and strength. By activating osteocalcin, MK-7 deposits calcium into the bone matrix. MK-7 also activates matrix Gla-protein (MGP), another vitamin K-dependent protein. Osteocalcin helps prevent deposits of calcium into your soft tissues, like your blood vessels, and instead put it in your bones. This calcium balance means greater bone density and strength.

  3. Reduces bone resorption: MK-7 may help reduce bone resorption, the process by which bone tissue is broken down by osteoclasts and released into the bloodstream. Excessive bone resorption leads to bone loss and is a risk factor for osteoporosis. MK-7 inhibits osteoclast activity -- preventing bone resorption, thereby helping preserve bone mass and strength.

  4. Improves bone mineral density: Clinical studies show that MK-7 improves bone mineral density (BMD) and reduces the risk of fractures, especially in otherwise healthy postmenopausal women who are at increased risk of bone weakening. MK-7 supplementation increases BMD at many skeletal locations, including the lumbar spine and femoral neck, suggesting it strengthens bones and reduces fracture risk throughout the body.

  5. Works with Vitamin D: MK-7 works synergistically with vitamin D, another essential nutrient for bone health. Vitamin D helps regulate calcium absorption and utilization, while MK-7 deposits calcium in the bones (and not the arteries). Thus, vitamins D and K2 play friendly roles in maintaining optimal bone health and strength.

bone remodelling process

MK-7 helps strengthen bones several ways... it promotes bone mineralization, regulates calcium metabolism, reduces bone resorption, improves bone mineral density, and works synergistically with vitamin D. Incorporating adequate levels of MK-7 through diet or supplements helps support bone strength and reduces the risk of brittle bones and fractures.

Fights Inflammation

Vitamin K2's anti-inflammatory action and activation of certain proteins may contribute to clearer, more flexible arteries, a reduction in joint pain and inflammation, thereby supporting overall health and better aging.

Recent studies link vitamin K2 status and your vitamin K levels with your risk for joint pain, such as chronic joint degeneration, since calcification of cartilage plays a role in this process.

MK-7 exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. That means it modulates inflammation, suppresses NF-kB, inhibits inflammatory enzymes, and protects against inflammation. Gaining higher blood levels of vitamin K and overall MK-7 status through diet or supplementation helps support overall health and well-being.

Promotes Brain Health

Vitamin K2 as MK-7 is unique because it supports artery health and strong, clear blood flow. Because of this, it's now being studied for its benefits on brain health.

Researchers have started studying vitamin K2 for its role in brain cell development and survival. Inside the brain, vitamin K occurs predominantly as MK-4. Vitamin K2 is involved in various brain functions including cell survival, cell regeneration (mitogenesis), cell growth, and myelination. Myelin is a protective coating around these wires, similar to the plastic coating around electrical wires. Myelination is the process of adding this protective coating to the nerves. It's like adding layers of insulation around the wires to make sure they work well and transmit messages optimally. Each of these processes is supported by the activation of certain vitamin K-dependent proteins.

Vitamin K2 is also involved in the production of sphingolipids -- an important class of lipids present in high concentrations in brain cell membranes. Initially valued for their role as essential structural components of cell membranes, sphingolipids are now known to participate in important cellular events such as signaling, proliferation, differentiation, senescence, transformation and survival of brain cells. In other words, sphingolipids are critical to maintaining a sharp, clear memory and good attention and focus.

Sphingolipids and Cognitive Decline

In fact, emerging studies have linked alterations in sphingolipid metabolism to age-related cognitive decline and dementias, evidently via the action of the matrix GLA protein.

Human studies on vitamin K deficiency in brain function are fairly limited. But six studies demonstrated, in a population of 65 years and older, a direct correlation between low vitamin K dietary intake or low blood concentration and reduced cognitive and behavioral performances. Thus, researchers believe that vitamin K2 protects brain cells against cognitive decline.

Chemical structure of vitamin K1 and K2 (Menachinon-4 or menaquinone-4, MK-4 and Menachinon-7 or menaquinone -7, MK-7)

Why You Don't Get Enough MK-7

Vitamin K can be hard to absorb, especially when it's combined with other minerals such as calcium. And that's true even for MK-7, which is more bioavailable than most, given its long half life. Thus getting sufficient peak blood level concentrations can be tough.

That's because, technically speaking, MK-7 exists as a geometric isomer in the cis, trans, and cis/trans forms. But only the all-trans form is biologically significant. That's why deficiency is more widespread than you'd think.

Risk Factors For Deficiency of MK-7

You can get MK-7 naturally in your diet by eating fermented foods like natto, kimchi, and sauerkraut. As you're no doubt aware, these foods represent an acquired taste for most Westerners. In fact, not eating enough fermented foods is just the first of several risk factors for vitamin K deficiency. They include:

  • Lack of fermented foods. MK-7 is mostly found in fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and natto -- a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans. Western diets typically lack K structures such as MK-7, as fermented foods aren't commonly consumed and are an acquired taste. If you don't regularly consume fermented foods, you may have a low intake of MK-7.Natto Japanese fermented soybeans health food dish

  • Poor gut health. Production of MK-7 by gut bacteria depends on the health and wellbeing of your gut microbiota. Imbalances in gut flora due to antibiotic use, GI disorders such as leaky gut, having been born via C-section, or general dietary habits, may affect or lower your synthesis of MK-7.

  • Older age. Age-related changes in gut function and absorption may reduce your absorption and use of MK-7. As you age, you're less able to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, including MK-7, due to digestive changes.

  • Certain medications. Certain medications, such as those used to lower cholesterol levels, can interfere with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, including MK-7. If you take these kinds of medications you'll be at higher risk of deficiency.

  • Health conditions. Certain health conditions, such as malabsorption syndromes, liver problems, or digestive problems, may impair the absorption of MK-7.

If you have any of these factors at play, you may not have enough vitamin K2 even if you think you're doing everything right. Most Americans who consume a "Standard American Diet" do not consume fermented foods such as natto, kimchi, and sauerkraut, so a supplement form is necessary.

How to Use MK-7 Supplements

Studies suggest that supplementing with at least 50mcg of MK-7 a day will help ensure you enjoy the vitamin's health benefits shown in the latest science. But, as we said earlier, not all forms of vitamin K2 and even MK-7 are the same.

Choose Only One-Of-A-Kind Patented K2VITAL® DELTA Vitamin K2

Green Valley Naturals uses the most absorbable "trans" form of MK-7, the patented K2VITAL® DELTA Vitamin K2 (as all-trans Menoquinone-7), in all of our supplements. In fact, we have two targeted supplement formulas, a bone health supplement called Bone & Muscle Defense and an inflammation-fighting, joint recovery supplement called Total Joint Relief.

What makes K2VITAL® DELTA so special?

It's a patented 99.75% all-trans K2 MK-7 -- identical to the K2 molecule found in fermented foods. K2VITAL® DELTA is fully bioactive. It's also the first double-encapsulated MK-7 to ensure that even when combined with minerals, MK-7 makes it through your digestive tract and into your bloodstream where it can flood your body's cells, tissues, joints and bones.

Safety and Recommended Daily Intake

Vitamin K is an essential vitamin that's safe and effective. The current recommended daily intake (RDI) of MK-7 for men is 120mcg and for women it's 90mcg. This was established based on clotting factors, and not bone or cardiovascular support. So, studies suggest that the current recommended dose may be too low for you to experience these other health effects.

Summary

There are three main types of Vitamin K: K1, K2 (menaquinone), and K3 (menadione, a synthetic form not recommended for supplements). MK-7 is a well-studied form of K2 with a long half-life, meaning it stays in your body for a longer time. MK-7 offers various health benefits, including improved bone health and cardiovascular health. It helps regulate calcium deposits, preventing them from accumulating in your arteries and keeping them in your bones for strength. MK-7 may also play a role in brain health and reducing inflammation. While you can get MK-7 from fermented foods like natto and kimchi, most Western diets lack these foods. What's more, you may also have trouble absorbing enough MK-7 due to factors like age, gut health, and certain medications. That's why Green Valley Naturals developed our Bone & Muscle Defense supplement and Total Joint Relief supplement with a patented form of MK-7 called K2VITAL®. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is menaquinone-7?

Menaquinone-7 (MK-7) is an absorbant form of vitamin K. MK-7 is bacterial in origin and is produced by bacteria found in fermented foods. There are various forms of menaquinone, distinguished by the length of their side chains, which can vary in length from 4 to 13 repeating units of isoprenoids that affect metabolism and cell biology. MK-7 is distinguished by its molecular structure, in particular, the length of its side chain of 7 isoprenoids. Research suggests that MK-7 may be more readily absorbed and have a longer half life in the body compared to forms with shorter side chains. Science shows it can lower inflammation and support strong bones, a healthy heart, a sharp memory, balanced blood sugar and a healthy nervous system.

What is the difference between vitamin K2 (menaquinone-7) and vitamin K (phytonadione)?

Only MK-7 (vitamin K2) promotes the carboxylation reaction of extrahepatic vitamin K dependent proteins, osteocalcin, and the matrix GLA protein at a nutritional dose close to the normal RDI.

Phytonadione (the synthetic form of vitamin K1) is useful in blood clotting (coagulation). It is used prophylactically at birth to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB). K1 can readily be consumed in leafy green veggies such as kale.

What is the best form of vitamin K2 to take?

Among the various forms of vitamin K2 (menaquinones), MK-7 (menaquinone-7) is known for having a long half life compared to other forms such as MK-4 (menaquinone-4). The long half-life allows it to circulate in the bloodstream for a longer duration compared to shorter-chain menaquinones.

Why is MK-7 better than MK-4?

MK-7 offers higher efficacy because of its higher bioavailability and longer half-life which allows it to circulate in the bloodstream for longer, giving more sustained levels of vitamin K2. By contrast, MK-4 has a shorter half-life and as such is more rapidly metabolized. So you need more frequent dosing to maintain adequate tissue levels. MK-7 has broader tissue absorption than MK-4... with an especially strong affinity for tissues like bones, arteries, and cartilage.

Elshaikh AO, Shah L, Joy Mathew C, Lee R, Jose MT, Cancarevic I. Influence of Vitamin K on Bone Mineral Density and Osteoporosis. Cureus. 2020 Oct 5;12(10):e10816. doi: 10.7759/cureus.10816. PMID: 33173624; PMCID: PMC7645307. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33173624/

Chin KY. The Relationship between Vitamin K and Osteoarthritis: A Review of Current Evidence. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 25;12(5):1208. doi: 10.3390/nu12051208. PMID: 32344816; PMCID: PMC7281970. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32344816/

F De Vries, K Maresz, F Machuron, J F Jeanne, L Schurgers, Beneficial effects of one-year menaquinone-7 supplementation on vascular stiffness and blood pressure in post-menopausal women, European Heart Journal, Volume 44, Issue Supplement_2, November 2023, ehad655.2621, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehad655.2621

Jadhav N, Ajgaonkar S, Saha P, Gurav P, Pandey A, Basudkar V, Gada Y, Panda S, Jadhav S, Mehta D, Nair S. Molecular Pathways and Roles for Vitamin K2-7 as a Health-Beneficial Nutraceutical: Challenges and Opportunities. Front Pharmacol. 2022 Jun 14;13:896920. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2022.896920. PMID: 35774605; PMCID: PMC9237441. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35774605/

Jadhav N, Ajgaonkar S, Saha P, Gurav P, Pandey A, Basudkar V, Gada Y, Panda S, Jadhav S, Mehta D, Nair S. Molecular Pathways and Roles for Vitamin K2-7 as a Health-Beneficial Nutraceutical: Challenges and Opportunities. Front Pharmacol. 2022 Jun 14;13:896920. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2022.896920. PMID: 35774605; PMCID: PMC9237441. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35774605/

Maresz K. Growing Evidence of a Proven Mechanism Shows Vitamin K2 Can Impact Health Conditions Beyond Bone and Cardiovascular. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2021 Aug;20(4):34-38. PMID: 34602875; PMCID: PMC8483258. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34602875/

Bone & Muscle Defense

Bone & Muscle Defense

Protects and supports muscle and bone health

$79.95

Keep Reading

View All Articles
The Anti-Aging Benefits of Apples about false

Healthy Aging

The Anti-Aging Benefits of Apples

You’ve heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But is this old adage really true? It just might be. Let’s take a look at some new research into the health benefits of apples to

Traditional Pain Remedy Reveals Powerful Inflammation Fighter about false

Healthy Aging

Traditional Pain Remedy Reveals Powerful Inflammation Fighter

One of the most popular spices comes from a plant root that’s been used medicinally for thousands of years.Now, modern scientific analysis of the natural compounds within this plant reveal proof that

Tooth Trouble? New Research Links Poor Dental Health to Serious Health Problems about false

Healthy Aging

Tooth Trouble? New Research Links Poor Dental Health to Serious Health Problems

In the past, we’ve delved into the importance of good dental health on this site, as well as its sister publication, Aging Defeated. But after hearing the dental woes of my older (and younger!)