Does Vitamin K Protect You From Cancer?

Vitamin K does more than build strong bones

Vitamin K is a very important fat-soluble vitamin; actually it’s a group of compounds including both K1 and K2. There are several versions of the vitamin you should know about to ensure you’re receiving the very best benefits it has to offer.

Vitamin K1 is found predominantly in plant foods, like leafy greens. Vitamin K1 is predominantly transported to your liver where it affects your clotting ability.

Its absorption from your diet is not strong and it doesn’t tend to remain active in the bloodstream for long. Vitamin K is traditionally known as a clotting factor and it is in the liver that most clotting facts are made. If your liver is unhealthy, you will have a diminished ability to absorb vitamin K.

Vitamin K is also known for its ability to retain strong bone growth and development.

Vitamin K1 can be converted to K2 in a healthy gut, but since so many Americans experience compromised gut health, the conversion isn’t robust.

Vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods, animal products, and is also produced by your gut bacteria.

Unlike K1, vitamin K2 can remain in your circulation for days, allowing it to be better utilized in other tissues of your body.

Vitamins D3 and K2 work together

Vitamin D3 helps you absorb calcium to build strong bones, but without adequate vitamin K2, the calcium can be deposited in dangerous locations such as your blood vessels and kidneys.

Vitamin D and K tend to work in synergy with one another, which is why it’s so important to supplement both in your diet if you’re deficient like most Americans.

K2 helps with blood sugar, cancer, and hormone balance

Beyond bone protection, vitamin K2 can also protect you against cancer, heart disease, support hormone production, and influence your gene expression. It also prevents insulin resistance, protecting you against type 2 diabetes and its related obesity.

In men, K2 increased testosterone and fertility, while in women suffering from PCOS and high levels of testosterone, vitamin K2 helped to normalize their levels.

A 2018 study in Oncology Letters stated that vitamin K2 can positively inhibit cancer cells.

The authors had this to say: “Vitamin K2 appears to be an extremely promising agent with very limited toxicity, which can be a useful option for the prevention of cancer and clinical therapy of cancer.”

Discussing vitamins D and K together, they stated: “vitamins might have positive effects on the prevention and therapy of tumors”.

Subtypes of vitamin K work together

There are several subtypes of vitamin K2, two of which we’re going to discuss. They are MK-4 and MK-7. The full range of “MKs”, which stands for menaquinones is from MK-4 to MK-15.

MK-4 and MK-7 are known to be effective in both bone health and prevention of heart disease. The reasons lie in vitamin K’s ability to strategically “put” calcium where it’s needed, your bones, and not where it shouldn’t be, your blood vessels.

MK-7 is more bioavailable; it lasts longer in circulation than MK-4. Some research states that doesn’t mean MK-4 shouldn’t be part of your supplementation protocol, but rather it speaks to MK-4’s ability to be taken up by your body’s tissues, organs, and brain.

MK-7 is converted to MK-4, but we’re not clear how much, which is why your supplement should include it.

There are different schools of thought as regards the dosage of vitamin K2, but the range of 100-200 mcg (micrograms) is commonly recommended, with a minimum of 45 mcg of MK-7 and a higher dose of MK-4, above 600 mcg with some studies utilizing 1500 mcg for improving bone health.

Animals, including us, are all able to convert vitamin K to MK4. Mother Nature certainly felt it was important enough for our health that she ensured we could make the conversion on our own.

The daily dosage of vitamin K2 is recommended at 100-200 mcg. Much research states the first 100 micrograms (mcg) to be the most important, but the Japanese, who are extremely healthy in the main, get about 230 mcg of MK7 in the form of natto, a fermented soybean.

Medications are known to deplete K2 levels

Blood thinners are the drugs most of us hear about when speaking of vitamin K2. The two work against each other, so if you’re taking a blood thinner such as warfarin, your doctor will want you to be on the deficient end of vitamin K2 which helps your blood clot.

Less well known is the association of statins to lower cholesterol. These too can deplete K2 absorption.

Lastly, broad-spectrum antibiotics that eradicate the good bacteria in your gut, can affect your ability to manufacture vitamin K2 since it’s produced from gut bacteria. Could this be why so many Americans are deficient in K2? We certainly are not known for our gut health.

Vitamin D and K – taken together or apart?

I don’t know what to say on this point. I’ve seen it both ways and nothing is terribly compelling to keep them apart at this writing. I currently like a great multiple, which has them together, along with a liquid tasteless D3/K2 combo that’s easy to take.

Of course, your diet should be providing you the majority of good nutrients, but in the case of D and K, deficiencies abound, so I am a fan of supplementing I those who need it.

Are you taking D supplements but your lab values aren’t increasing?

There are a few reasons this could be occurring, but it is important to get to the root cause.

  1. Ensure the quality of your supplement is good.
  2. Make sure you don’t have an absorption problem, especially of fats.
  3. Evaluate your genetics to see if you have trouble turning vitamin D into its active form.

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