You may not know it, but you may be deficient in vitamin K as we speak. This nutrient is regarded as the “forgotten vitamin,” as its many benefits are often overlooked. It has been estimated that 99 percent of the population may be deficient in this nutrient. A number of reasons contribute to this deficiency, such as:
- Absorbability problems – Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it needs to be consumed with dietary fat to be absorbed by your body effectively.
- Poor diet – Vitamin K can be obtained through certain foods, such as green leafy vegetables and fermented foods. Many Americans consume very little of these foods.
- Disorders that interfere with nutrient absorption
- Liver conditions that disrupt vitamin K storage
- Intake of certain medications, such as antibiotics, statins, and aspirin, which may affect nutrient absorption.
There are various forms of vitamin K, and one type in particular (vitamin K3) is not absorbed effectively inside the body.
Vitamin K2 is a naturally-occurring nutrient in your body, as it is produced by the beneficial bacteria that line up your gastrointestinal tract. However, it is not utilized by your body well and is often eliminated through your stool.
Dietary Sources of Vitamin K2
While K2 is produced in your body, you can still raise your levels through diet. One of the best sources of vitamin K2 is fermented foods, specifically natto. Natto is a traditional Japanese dish composed of cultured soybean. It contains the healthy bacteria called Bacillus subtilis, which contains probiotic properties. Research shows that the vitamin K content of natto surpasses that of the quantities found in dark green vegetables.
Unfortunately, not many people consume natto, as well as other fermented foods, because of their flavor and texture. Consuming only green leafy vegetables will not give you sufficient vitamin K. Studies show that only 10 to 15 percent only get absorbed from vegetables, even with the presence of dietary fat. Be careful not to consume unfermented soy, as it is processed and leaves behind toxic and carcinogenic substances.
A more palatable choice is fermented dairy products, like cheeses. Among the many types of cheese, curd cheese contains the most abundant supply of vitamin K2. It also has lower fat content compared to the regular varieties. Do not purchase just any kind of cheese from the supermarket. It should be made from milk obtained from pasture-fed cows.
An Alternative to Fermented Foods
Some people really have a hard time adjusting to fermented foods. An alternative to eating natto and curd cheese is taking a vitamin K2 supplement. When looking for one, the nutrient should be derived from a natural source. Here are the other qualities of a high-quality vitamin K2 supplement:
- It should be non-GMO – There are some supplements that contain genetically modified substances. You must avoid these at all costs.
- It should be free of allergens – The supplement should contain only fermented soy. It should not contain common sources of allergens, such as unfermented soy, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, shellfish, and fin fish.
- It should contain natto produced from a stable process – The natto used in the supplement formula should not contain other derivatives or it may be unstable. The supplement should also have a shelf life of at least 2 years. Do research on the manufacturer to check how they ensure the quality of the product.
- It should only contain the MK7 form of vitamin K2 – Vitamin K2 has several forms, such as MK4, MK7, MK8, and MK9. Research shows that MK7 is the most effective form as it can stay inside your body for 3 days.
- Its manufacturer should ensure purity by possessing lab validations adhering to high-quality practices and GMP standards.