- About Vitamin K
- Vitamin K1
- Vitamin K2
- MK-4 versus MK-7
- Trans and Cis forms
- Vitamin K-dependent Proteins
- Transportation of Vitamin K in the body
- Vitamin K Deficiency
- Ideal Dosage of Vitamin K
- Contraindications for Vitamin K
Ultra K® Ingredients
- Vitamin K status
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Vitamin K is a widely researched subject with many published studies.
There's also a lot of misinformation and confusion about Vitamin K, particularly Vitamin K2.
- summarize the latest Vitamin K2 research
- clarify some points of confusion about Vitamin K2
- introduce: Ultra K - Vitamin K2
The purpose of this site is to:
Let's begin with some basic concepts.
- A "vitamin" can be defined as an organic compound that is essential to health:
- required to sustain health
- can not be synthesized by the body
- Good health depends upon consuming vitamins
- from the food we eat
- from the supplements we take
What's so confusing about Vitamin K?
- First of all, people often confuse Vitamin K with potassium.
- "K" is the chemical symbol for potassium on the periodic table of elements.
- Potassium is NOT Vitamin K.
- Secondly, there really is no such thing as Vitamin K "per say" . . .
- Vitamin K actually refers to a family of fat-soluble vitamins, called quinones
- Quinones have different, but similar structures.
- Chemically, the Vitamin K family consists of 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone (3-) derivatives.
Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2 are said to be vitamers of Vitamin K:
- both are cofactors in the carboxylation (activation) of Vitamin K-dependent proteins (VKDP)
- each functions as a separate vitamin.
- Vitamin K1 activates VKDP in the liver, to enable blood coagulation.
- Vitamin K2 activates VKDP in the bloodstream, to enable the shuttling of calcium ions
- FROM where they should NOT be
- heart valves
- arterial linings
- TO where they SHOULD be
- No sub-types
- Fat soluble
- Green leafy vegetables
- Cofactor: gamma-glutamyl carboxylation
- Coagulation Factors: VII, IX, X
- Sub types (MK-4 and MK-7)
- Fat soluble
- Meat, eggs, cheese, fermented foods
- Cofactor: gamma-glutamyl carboxylation
- Bone & vessel wall calcification
- Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) exists in several sub-types.
- Menaquinone sub-types are said to be homologues of each other, because their structures are:
- nearly identical
- differentiated only by the length of their side-chains (the number of isoprene units in its side chain).
- MK-4 and MK-7 are known to be bioactive.
- MK-8, MK-9, are thought to have some bioactivity.
MK-10, MK-12 and MK-14 are not thought to have any bioactivity,
due to their larger molecular size (longer side-chain).
- Vitamin K is a family of related structures that all share a methylated naphthoquinone ring system, substituted with an aliphatic side chain.
- In Vitamin K1, the side chain is composed of four isoprene units, the last three of which are saturated.
- Vitamin K2 consists of subtypes, each with differing side chain lengths (containing 1 to 13 isoprene units).
- The structure of Vitamin K3 most closely resembles that of Vitamin K1, hence their similar functions.
- Vitamins K1 and K2 exists as isomers, (TRANS and CIS forms)
- The bioactivity of each isomer is determined by its form:
- TRANS form:
- shaped like a straight line.
- CIS form:
- shaped like an "L"
- NOT bioactive
- Vitamin K3 (also known as menadione or menaphthone) is a synthesized derivative of naphthoquinone.
- Vitamin K3 is not naturally occurring, so it can't really be considered a true vitamin.
- classified as a pro-vitamin
- mimics Vitamin K1.
- not typically taken by humans, because it has side effects.
- sometimes added to chicken feed.
- made exclusively by plants.
- Green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and kale) are the richest source.
- The conversion (fermentation) takes place by bacteria in the gut,
- Ability to convert declines with age, as does gut health
- Fermentation favors menaquinones with longer side chains
- no MK-4
- only MK-7 and MK-10
- Vitamin K1 deficiency is rarely, if ever, seen in adults.
- Our bodies' have the ability to recycle Vitamin K1.
- Even if someone was Vitamin K1 deficient, consuming even very small amounts of green leafy vegetables or vegetable oils would provide ample Vitamin K1 to replenish the deficiency.
- Vitamin K1 is even found in fast food and soybean oil.
- Vitamin K1 plays an essential role in blood clotting, but is not known to have any other functions.
- cardiovascular health
- bone health
- neurological health
- urological health
- synthesized for commercial production
- from grass fed animal products
- Goose liver and dark meat (from chicken or goose) are the best food sources
- Egg yolks (particularly from duck eggs) are also a decent source
- Can ONLY be produced by fermentation.
Natto (a Japanese fermented soybean product)
is the food source with the highest level of MK-7 (350-400 mcg per oz).
Aged cheeses such as gouda or brie
contain about 75 mcg per oz.
- Bacteria in the gut flora
- There has not been much research comparing MK-4 to MK-7
- each have similar functions
- each has some unique capabilities
- It seems reasonable to deduce we need both MK-4 and MK-7.
- the same molecular formula as another molecule
- with a different chemical structure.
- The bottom line is that the the form of MK-4 and or MK-7 you take is critical.
- TRANS form is bioactive
- CIS form is NOT bioactive.
Ultra K contains:
- "pharmaceutical grade" Vitamin K2 (yellow color)
- very high percent of TRANS form
- MK-4 (100% TRANS form)
- MK-7 (70% TRANS form)
- can bind calcium ions
- only after being activated (gamma-carboxylated) by Vitamin K
- Vitamin K1 activates VKDP's in the liver to synthesize coagulation factors.
- DCP (Des-gamma-carboxy Prothrombin)
- Vitamin K2 activates VKDP involved in shuttling calcium:
- MGP (Matrix GLA protein)
- secreted by arterial linings.
- blocks calcification of heart valves, arterial walls, kidney stones
- Osteocalcin (OC or BGLAP)
- secreted by osteocytes in the bones.
- increases bone density
- Vitamin K2 activates VKDP's in the brain:
- Gas6 (Growth arrest-specific 6)
- regulates cell survival of neurons and glial cells.
- modulates sphingolipid metabolism.
- PROS1 (Protein S)
- regulates self-renewal of neural stem and progenitor cells (NSPCs).
- chemotaxis, mitogenesis, and cell growth
- Vitamin D3 consumption stimulates the secretion of MGP, OC and other VKDP's.
- Vitamin K2 demand increases with Vitamin D3 consumption.
- Many of the classic Vitamin K2 studies estimated Vitamin K status:
- based on analysis of self-reported dietary intake questionnaires
- very inaccurate and inherently limited
- Newer studies quantify Vitamin K2 status:
- based on assay of various circulating vitamin K status markers.
- more objective and accurate
- reflects both intake and metabolism
- Vitamin K2 status biomarkers.
- uncarboxylated (unactivated) VKDP's (ucVKDP) in the blood.
- Nearly all studies today quantify vitamin K status with this method.
- higher uncarboxylated concentrations reflect lower vitamin K status.
- ucOC (undercarboxylated form of osteocalcin)
- a nutritional biomarker reflective of vitamin K status
- an indicator of bone health
- an active hormone that mediates glucose metabolism in experimental studies.
- dp-ucMGP (dephosphorylated uncarboxylated MGP)
- Assays that measure total circulating MGP (regardless of its carboxylation status) have been available for some time.
- Recently, assays that measure different fractions of MGP in circulation have been developed, of which dephosphorylated uncarboxylated MGP (dp-ucMGP) best reflects vitamin K status.
- Nowadays, dp-ucMGP is available as a fully automated commercial assay, which makes it a feasible marker as routine laboratory assessment in clinical practice.
- serum Vitamin K2 level in the blood
- Has very little usefulness:
- MK-4 is the only vitamin K2 form that can be detected for those on a western diet.
- it takes a lot more MK-4 supplementation than MK-7 to be detected in the blood
- MK-4 has a much shorter half life in the blood
- MK-4 is transported by LDL (low-density lipoproteins) and HDL (high-density lipoproteins).
- positioned on the outer layers
- off-loaded first
- distributed to kidneys, brain, heart, lungs and muscles
- MK-4 is most readily absorbed in organs and soft tissues.
- MK-7 is transported by LDL and VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins).
- positioned near the center
- off-loaded last
- distributed to the liver, where it is repackaged as VLDL's for delivery to bones
- MK-7 is most readily absorbed into bone.
- MK-4 is the only form of Vitamin K2 present in the brain. In fact its present in high concentration.
- High concentrations of MK-4 are found in other tissues as well, accounting for about 40%, with the remainder consisting of MK-9, MK-8, and MK-7 (in that order).
- Studies with pregnant women have shown that:
MK-4 passes through the placenta and on to the fetus
- as evidenced by the presence of MK-4 found in the cord blood
- Mk-7 was NOT found in cord blood
- indicating that MK-7 can NOT pass through the placenta.
- Studies on human breast milk have shown that:
- MK-4 is the predominant form of Vitamin K2 found in human breast milk.
- Pregnant women, developing fetus and babies require MK-4 to meet their vitamin K2 needs.
Studies , which correlated lowered fracture risk with Vitamin K2 consumption
were conducted with MK-4 not MK-7.
- High dose MK-4 is the form of Vitamin K2 used in Japan as a prescription drug for osteoporosis.
- MK-7 CAN do SOME things that MK-4 can NOT.
- The main cornerstone to the anti-MK-4 argument is that MK-4 has a much shorter plasma half-life than does MK-7. The implication being that, more frequent doses of MK-4 must be taken as compensation.
- Another anti-MK-4 point is that MK-4 is synthetic, while MK-7 is natural.
- And another talking point is "There are no studies which prove MK-4 is superior to MK-7".
- Very few adults are Vitamin K1 deficient.
- Vitamin K1 deficiency results in
- seriously impaired blood coagulation, and uncontrolled bleeding
- Many adults are Vitamin K2 deficient.
- Vitamin K2 deficiency results in:
- weakened bones, potentially leading to osteoporosis
- calcification of arterial walls, heart valves and kidney stones.
- Pregnant women and their fetuses are susceptible to Vitamin K2 deficiency.
- Some (but few) prenatal vitamins contain MK-7.
- I don't know of ANY prenatal vitamins that contain MK-4.
- This is potentially problematic:
- MK-4 can pass the blood placenta barrier, while MK-7 can not.
- Both "baby teeth" and "adult teeth" are formed in utero during weeks 5-12.
- Proper bone and dental development is impossible without adequate MK-4.
- Gut dysbiosis and statin use (both very common) contribute to Vitamin K2 deficiency.
- activate all K2-dependent proteins.
- not exceed the maximum safety amount
- Effective dose
- Some researchers have suggested that 180 to 280 micrograms of MK-7 is enough.
Other researchers have suggested that MK-4 may require a much higer dose
- MK-4 may be less bioavailable than MK-7.
- The body contains much more MK-4 than MK-7.
Comparison of menaquinone-4 and menaquinone-7 bioavailability in healthy women
Sato T, Schurgers LJ, Uenishi K. Nutri Journal. 2012;11:93.
- This study compared the bioavailability of MK-4 and MK-7 in healthy volunteers in their serum (blood) levels.
- They were given 420 ug of MK-4 or MK-7 every morning along with breakfast.
- MK-7 reached maximal serum level at 6 hours after intake and was detectable up to 48 hours after intake.
- MK-4 was not detectable in the serum at any time point, even after 7 consecutive days of administration.
- The researchers concluded that:
the current recommended dosage of MK-4 is too low,
- a higher dose is required to improve the carboxylation of osteocalcin.
- Maximum dose
- There does not appear to be toxicity issues for either MK-4 or MK-7.
- 2014 Some Japanese studies have used 45 mg daily dosage without major side effects.
US Pharmacopeial Convention safety evaluation of menaquinone-7
Marles RJ, Roe AL, Oketch-Rabah HA., Nutr Rev. 2017 Jul 1;75(7):553-578.
- MK-4 and MK-7 exists in two isomer forms
- TRANS form is bioactive
- CIS form is NOT bioactive
- Vitamin K2 demand
- Anyone taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, has an increased demand for Vitamin K2
Statins stimulate atherosclerosis and heart failure: pharmacological mechanisms
Okuyama H, Langsjoen PH, Hamazaki T et al. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2015 Mar;8(2):189-99. doi: 10.1586/17512433.2015.1011125
- Anyone taking Vitamin D3, has an increased demand for Vitamin K2
Calcimimetic and vitamin D analog use in hemodialyzed patients is associated with increased levels of vitamin K dependent proteins.
Fusaro M, Giannini S, Gallieni M et al. Endocrine. 2016 Feb;51(2):333-41. doi: 10.1007/s12020-015-0673-z. Epub 2015 Jul 1.
- Supplementing with K1 or K2 renders these drugs ineffective.
- There is evidence that some people on anticoagulant drugs may develop arterial calcium deposits.
Vascular calcification: the price to pay for anticoagulation therapy with vitamin K-antagonists
Chatrou ML, Winckers K et al. Blood Rev. 2012 Jul;26(4):155-66. doi: 10.1016/j.blre.2012.03.002.
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Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is often called "the plant form of vitamin K".
Vitamin K1 is involved in the synthesis of blood-clotting proteins,
Because Vitamin K1 deficiency is exceptionally rare,
in most cases, there is no need to supplement Vitamin K1.
Vitamin K1 is essential and can not be synthesized by the body, which is why its called a vitamin.
Heenrik Dam, the Danish biochemist who discovered Vitamin K in 1929 named it "K" after the Danish word "Koagulation", which means "coagulation".
Animals (including humans) have the ability to convert Vitamin K1 to Vitamin K2
In the USA, Vitamin K1 is the most common form of Vitamin K sold in supplements.
Ironically, supplementing with Vitamin K1 serves very little usefulness,
The bottom line is that we feel there is no need to supplement with Vitamin K1.Read Less
Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is an amazing nutrient . . . a superstar in the vitamin world.
Many people are completely unaware of the essential role Vitamin K2 plays in:
Even worse . . . many people are Vitamin K2 deficient, particularly vegetarians and vegans.
Vitamin K2 is a group of chemically similar sub-types (homologues).
Each homologue is differentiated by the length of its side-chains
Each side-chain contains "functional groups" known as an "isoprene units"
The acronym for naming menaquinone homologues is based on the number of "isoprene units" they contain.
Beginning with the letters "MK" (for "menaquinone" and vitamin "K")
followed by a number (the number of "isoprene units").
Vitamin K2 homologues range from MK-4 to MK-14
MK-4 and MK-7 are the only menaquinones used in dietary supplements.
TRANS and CIS forms
An Isomer is defined as a molecule, that has:
Vitamin K2 (MK-4 and MK-7) can exist in either TRANS or CIS forms.
As seen in the diagrams below, the TRANS forms are configured as straight lines, while the CIS forms are configured as "L" shapes.
Like a master "skeleton" key, the straight shaped TRANS forms can unlock (activate) ALL Vitamin K-dependent proteins they encounter, while the L-shaped CIS forms can NOT activate ANY.
This is why, if you are going to take a Vitamin K2 supplement, regardless of whether its MK-4 or MK-7, its so important to find one that contains the highest percent possible of TRANS form isomers, otherwise you will likely receive much less bioactive Vitamin K2, than you might think (and need).
The problem is that most Vitamin K2 product manufacturers don't even disclose how much TRANS and CIS forms are present in their product. In many cases they may not even know. Most products probably contain greater than 50% TRANS form, however Vitamin K2 supplements analyzed at the University of Oslo, revealed that some MK-7 products contained as little as 15% TRANS form, which is very much at odds with their "usable K2" label claim.
Vitamin K-dependent Proteins
Vitamin K plays a vital role in many important physiological functions.
The functions attributed to Vitamin K are actually carried out by a large
class of proteins, known as Vitamin K-dependent proteins (VKDP's).
As their name implies, VKDP's depend on Vitamin K to function.
VKDP's are comprised of Gla proteins (containing "glutamic acid residues"):
Nineteen VKDP's have been identified so far, but researchers think many more are yet be discovered.
VKDP's can be activated by both Vitamin K1 and K2.
Vitamin K Status
Transportation of Vitamin K2 in the body
MK-4 and MK-7 play similar roles in the body, due to their similar structures.
The difference in their structures makes each more suitable to act in different parts of the body.
Vitamin K2 (like all fat-soluble vitamins) is transported in the blood by lipoproteins (blood cholesterols).
MK-4 is amazing
Does that mean MK-4 is more important than MK-7?
MK-7 is amazing too
Why do some MK-7 promoters bash MK-4?
Some manufacturers and marketers of MK-7 products have claimed that MK-7 is superior to MK-4.
We certainly consider that to be a false claim. Although it is true (as cited above) that MK-7 can function in some ways MK-4 can not, There are actually many more things that MK-4 can do, that MK-7 can not.
Our purpose in discussing this topic is NOT to bash MK-7.
After all, considering its safety record, unique functions and potential . . .
we chose to include MK-7 (along with MK-4) in Ultra K.
But it does beg the question: Why would anyone bash MK-4?
I believe the primary reason is that promotors (of anything) tend to "talk their book".
MK-7 is substantially cheaper than MK-4, and typically more profitable.
Perhaps some folks need a narrative (other than greed) to support their agenda.
This is a bit of a fallacy.
Although its true that MK-7 can be detected in the blood for a longer time than MK-4 can, that's no reason to disparage MK-4.
On the contrary, Its not as if MK-4 just breaks downs and is gone forever. Rather, it dissapates from the blood rapidly, because it is "soaked up" so quickly and readily by the many organs and tissues that need it (much faster and in greater amounts than MK-7).
Keep in mind that even though the amount of MK-4 stored in the brain, pancreas, salivary glands, and arteries can't be measured, it is there . . . performing specific biological activities, and could even last longer in the body than MK-7 does.
Neither MK-4 nor MK-7 is truly natural. Both are "made from natural sources" like leaves, petals, and legumes. But both are highly processed, undergoing lots of fermentation, purification, extraction, and precipitation, so it's really not fair to call either of these ingredients "Natural".
This is another fallacy.
While it is true that studies comparing MK-4 to MK-7 are sorely lacking . . . .
That's no reason to dismiss the assertion that MK-4 is superior to MK-7.
Most of MK-4 studies have been large scale clinical trials
Most MK-7 studies have focused on comparison with K1 (not MK-4).
and are sponsored by either the cheese or nato industry groups,
The bottom line is that Vitamin K2 research is still in its infancy and the truth is that we just don't know, what we don't know. All things considered however, based on the research conducted so far, one could reasonably argue that MK-4 is more important than MK-7 and NOT the other way around. But there is no reason to have to be in one camp or the other. We believe it is wise to be in both camps, which is why Ultra K, contains both MK-4 AND MK-7.Read Less
Vitamin K Deficiency
Researchers define Vitamin K deficiency as the presence of uncarboxylated (unactivated) VKDP in the blood.
The ideal dosage of Vitamin K2 could be defined as the amount of MK-4 and or MK-7 needed to
MK-4 and MK-7 have different properties, which must be considered in determining the ideal dosage.
We recommend taking one capsule of Ultra K for every 5,000 iu of Vitamin D3
Vitamin K1 and K2 are contraindicated for those taking blood thinning drugs such as Coumadin or Warfarin.
The effect of anticoagulant drugs are negated by Vitamin K1 and K2.
Actually, its just the opposite. These anticoagulant drugs stop K1 from recycling and keep
BOTH K1 and K2 in a deficient state.
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