Vitamin K2: What is vitamin K2, and what role does it have in health?

Overwhelming research shows natural vitamin K2 – especially its key isomers MK-7 – to be very effective in bone health support and protection from heart disease.


Besides its proven role in bone and cardiovascular health, new research has linked how K2 delivers heart benefits to impacting new health areas and conditions. In fact, vitamin K2 may be the missing link between diet and several chronic diseases. And only two vitamin K2 as MK-7s on the market today are trusted to deliver improved health: MenaQ7® and vitaMK7®.

vitamin K2

What is Vitamin K2?

Natural Vitamin K2 is part of the K family of vitamins, a group of fat-soluble compounds playing a role in blood clotting, calcium metabolism, and antioxidant activities. 


They have a common chemical structure, the recognized function group (methylated naphthoquinone ring), but differ for the different aliphatic side chains that influence absorption, transport, tissue distribution, and bioavailability. Vitamin K2 as long-chain Menaquinone-7 (MK-7) shows higher activity in humans than vitamin K2 as MK-4. 


The higher efficacy of MK-7 is attributed to its better bioavailability and longer half-life compared to other homologs. Both Vitamin K2 as MK-4 and MK-7 are nearly completely absorbed, with peak serum concentration at 2 hours for MK-4 and 4 hours for MK-7 after intake (Schurgers et al., 2007; Shearer et al., 2008). However, MK-4 quickly disappears from the circulation, whereas MK-7 can accumulate in the bloodstream (remaining in the body for approximately 72 hours) (Sato et al., 2012). For maximum effect in the body, MK-7 is thus the optimal source of vitamin K.


Vitamin K2 is now recognized as essential for helping the body properly utilize calcium, directing it to build strong, healthy bones and stopping calcium from depositing in arteries and soft tissues

Clinical observations show that calcification may begin in childhood. Hence, early supplementation with vitamin K2 may contribute to the development of healthy cardiovascular systems and may reduce the risk of developing compromised bone health. It is even now accepted that adequate intake of vitamin K2 is essential for healthy bones and for lowering the risk of vascular damage. Still,  it is also clear that almost every one of us is potentially deficient in vitamin K2 due to the change in dietary habits and food industry impact. The potential health benefits of the vitamin include cognitive and ocular health, with data also supporting a role in prostate health and immune benefits (as a cofactor of vitamin D).





  • Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble substance.

  • Vitamin K2 can render special proteins (vitamin K-dependent proteins) functional by adding carboxyl (-COOH) groups

  • Vitamin K2 is needed for normal blood coagulation.

  • Vitamin K2 is produced via bacterial fermentation, which gives fermented foods like cheese and the Japanese dish natto (fermented soybeans) high Vitamin K2 contents.

  • Vitamin K2 is also involved in bone formation and repair.

  • Vitamin K2 is associated with reduced risk for heart disease and hip fractures.

  • Vitamin K2 has been shown to inhibit calcium deposits (i.e. calcification) in blood vessels and even improve arterial flexibility.

  • In the last decade, several studies have highlighted the benefits of vitamin k2 as menaquinone-7 at every stage of life


Decades of research have shown that vitamin K2 as MK-7 is essential for the function of several calcium-binding proteins involved in maintaining the normal structure of the osteoarticular system, teeth, arterial wall, and for the regulation of cell growth.


Vitamin K2 “makes calcium work” through its ability to activate specific K-dependent proteins already present in the body:


  • Osteocalcin is the protein responsible for binding calcium ions to the bone mineral matrix, making bones stronger.
  • Matrix Gla Protein (MGP) is the most potent modulator of arterial calcification known today. The amount of arterial calcification is an indicator of one’s cardiovascular health.


When the body has sufficient vitamin K2, calcium is directed to where it is needed and kept away from where it is not. However, inadequate vitamin K2 may result in what is known as the “Calcium Paradox.” This is where the bones receive too little calcium (leaving them weak and brittle) while excess calcium deposits in the arteries and blood vessels (making them stiff and inelastic).


Vitamin K2 deficiency results in impaired bone strength and mineral density. And calcification increases vessels’ stiffness and fragility, impeding healthy blood flow to and from the heart.


Vitamin K2 food sources include butter and whole milk from grass-fed cows, egg yolks, liver and bacterially fermented foods like mature cheeses and curd, and the traditional Japanese fermented soybean dish “natto.” Small amounts are found in egg yolk and meat.


The amount of vitamin K2 as MK-7 needed for optimal carboxylation is significantly higher than what is available in the body. Unlike the other fat-soluble nutrients, vitamin K2 is not stored in the body. While K2 deficiency is often subclinical in many healthy populations, it is present in most healthy adults and children in the Western population.


Adequate Vitamin K2 is virtually non-existent in today’s food supply. Unfortunately, the food industry has not fortified many foods—such as breakfast cereals—with vitamin K2 the way it has with folic acid and calcium. For now, supplementation remains the best option.

While natto is less common in the West, in Japan it is very popular and highly respected for its nutritional value and health benefits, including being a key source of vitamin K2. A 3.5-oz. serving of natto—less than a quarter of a pound—contains 1,103.4 micrograms of MK-7. 

That is a massive amount compared to egg yolks (15.5 micrograms) and whole milk (1.0 micrograms), both of which feature the less effective form of vitamin K2 as MK-4. 


Did you know? MenaQ7® Natto and vitaMK7® are both manufactured through fermentation using a strain of Bacillus subtilis Natto, which is derived from Natto as a food.

Healthy hints:What is Natto?

Natto is made from soybeans which have been fermented with a special variety of the Bacillus subtilis bacteria making natto one of the healthiest soy products you can find.


Typically, smaller beans are preferred so that the fermentation process can reach the center to increase its overall health benefits.


  • First, the beans are washed and soaked for 12 to 20 hours to increase their size. Second, the soybeans are steamed for roughly six hours.
  • The beans are then mixed with the special Bacillus subtilis bacteria and special care is taken to make sure no impurities or other bacteria are introduced.
  • The mixture is then fermented at 40 C (104 F) for up to 24 hours, afterwards it is cooled and aged in refrigeration for up to one week before being sold.



Ideally we would obtain all of our nutrients naturally … first from our diets, but if that is not possible (as is the case with Vitamin K2), through supplements produced as close to nature as possible. 


There has been a lot of talk about K2 produced via “organic synthesis”, but this terminology tends to be misleading. To that end, Gnosis by Lesaffre offers a position paper that explains the differences between natural fermentation and synthesis, specificities of K2 obtained through natural fermentation-based process, and what should be considers when selecting a K2 as MK-7 produced by synthesis. 



What customer needs do the MenaQ7® and vitaMK7® brands fulfil?

We’re proud to be able to say that our newly combined product portfolio has something for every type of customer. What’s In It For You Is About What’s “In It” For Your Customers. Learn how K2 adds value to your product!

We are especially proud of MenaQ7®’s standing as the only clinically validated vitamin K2 ingredient in application. The subject of more than 20 clinical studies, MenaQ7® is a perfect, premium option for brands with customers that demand clinically proven results.

Mobility &
Joint Health

Reproduction &
Women's Health

Wellness &
Immune Health

For brands where “all-natural” designation is paramount, vitaMK7® is a fantastic vitamin K2 option. It is naturally developed through a natto-based biotransformation process.

Mobility &
Joint Health

Reproduction &
Women's Health

Wellness &
Immune Health