- There is evidence to suggest Vitamin K2 raises T levels
- However most of the available studies have been conducted on animals
- The ideal daily dosage is no more than 120mcg
Vitamin K is probably the least known of all vitamins. It is a fat-soluble nutrient essential for coagulation. The “K” is derived from the German word Coagulant. There are several thousand forms of Vitamin K, but the two main forms are Vitamin K1 or phylloquinone and K2 or menaquinone.
While Vitamin K1 is present in almost all green leafy vegetables, Vitamin K2 is found in liver, egg yolks, red meat, and butter. We only require a small amount of this vitamin to meet the recommended daily dosage but is estimated that nearly 80 percent of the population does not get enough of it.
Health benefits of Vitamin K2
Until recently, Vitamin K1 got all the attention as far as the health benefits of Vitamin K were concerned. This was probably because we get over ten times more the amount of Vitamin K1 in our diet compared to K2. It was believed that the body would convert K1 into K2 as needed. However, latest findings have revealed that we need to source K2 separately to get the many health benefits it offers.
Research has shown that Vitamin K2 can significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by helping the removal of calcium deposits from arteries. Another research has shown that Vitamin K2 supplementation can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by over 30 percent. In both the researchers, Vitamin K1 was found to have no effect.
Here are some of the main health benefits offered by Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is essential for long-term bone health. Studies show that it may even be more important than calcium. It is needed in order to bind minerals and calcium to the bone matrix. This strengthens the bones. If the binding does not occur, it will remain in the soft tissue and cause calcification in the wrong areas. It may also potentially reverse osteoporosis.
Improves Cardiac Health
If one does not consume vitamin K2 but ingests a lot of calcium, arterial calcification may develop. This is why medical specialists urge their patients to consume vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and magnesium in the right amounts. Studies show that people who ingest high amounts of vitamin K2 are less likely to succumb to cardiovascular failure.
A vitamin K deficiency will lead to poor oral health. This means that a person who does not consume enough of this vitamin will be more prone to enamel fractures, compared to those who consume high amounts of it.
Varicose Vein Prevention
This study is still in its early stages. However, researchers claim that vitamin K2 lessens the possibility of calcification in blood vessels.
Vitamin K2 is also known as a potent testosterone booster. That is what we are going to focus on here. Let us check out how Vitamin K2 affects testosterone levels, what the research says and how we can get enough of it.
How Vitamin K2 affects testosterone levels
Vitamin K2 is believed to help boost testosterone levels by following mechanisms:
- Influencing testosterone synthesis: Vitamin K2 inhibits inflammation and regulates certain genes, thus protecting testosterone from potential killers.
- Vitamin K deficiency can cause downregulation of an enzyme critical to T-synthesis. By maintaining adequate Vitamin K levels, higher T-levels can be maintained.
- By potentially interacting with sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG).
Various studies have been done concerning the impact of vitamin K2 to testosterone levels.
Research on Vitamin K2’s testosterone boosting effects
Some animal studies show a strong correlation between Vitamin K and testosterone levels. Here is what these studies found:
Dietary vitamin K alleviates the reduction in testosterone production induced by lipopolysaccharide administration in rat testis
In this study, rats were divided into two groups. One group was fed a Vitamin K free diet, and the other was the control group. After 35 days, both the groups were administered lipopolysaccharides (LPS) to induce inflammation. Researchers found that:
- Neither of the groups showed Vitamin K deficiency.
- The rats that received Vitamin K free diet had lower levels of Vitamin K in their testis
- Vitamin K free group had lower testosterone levels compared to the control group
- Luteinizing hormone was unaffected by both diet and LPS administration
It was concluded that dietary Vitamin K affects the amount of Vitamin K in the testis, and also prevents testosterone depletion caused by inflammation.
Menaquinone-4 enhances testosterone production in rats and testis-derived tumor cells
In this study, eight week old male Wistar rats were fed a diet supplemented with 75 mg/kg menaquinone-4, which is one of the main K2 vitamins present in the testis. After five weeks of supplementation, it was observed that:
- Testosterone levels in the testes and plasma of MK-4-fed rats were significantly increased compared to the control group
- No differences in plasma luteinizing hormone (LH) level
- Secreted testosterone levels were increased by MK-4, but not by vitamin K1
It was concluded that MK-4 stimulates testosterone production in rats and testis-derived tumor cells via activation of protein kinase A (PKA).
Supplementing with Vitamin K2
The recommended daily dosage of Vitamin K2 is 120 mcg. A dosage above 45,000 mcg becomes toxic. Most supplements contain 100-150 mcg Vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 supplements are available in two forms: MK-4 and MK-7. MK-4 is more commonly used in supplements as it acts independently of the Vitamin K cycle in the body. MK-7 is more bioavailable compared to MK-4 and works within the vitamin K cycle. However, it stays in the body for a longer time, while MK-4 stays in for only 8 hours. For this reason, some prefer MK-7 over MK-4.
What Foods Contain Vitamin K2?
Certain types of food contain vitamin K2. These include hard cheese, soft cheese, butter, natto, sauerkraut, egg yolk, chicken liver, chicken breast, ground beef and salami. Please note that at this time, we have yet to provide the precise values of some types of food like organ meat. Studies show that salivary glands, pancreas, brains, reproductive organs, kidneys, cartilage and bone. Fish eggs are also likely to be rich in vitamin K2.
Regarding vitamin K2 from livestock intestines, please note that the vitamin K2 present is embedded in bacterial membranes. Therefore, only a small amount of it can be absorbed.
Those who enjoy fermented food will be happy to know that many of their favorites contain this sought-after vitamin. Natto, a favorite soy dish that originates from Japan contains high amounts of it. Sauerkraut and cheese are high in vitamin K2 as well.
However, natto has the highest concentration of it, and nearly all of the vitamin K is present as MK-7. This vitamin is three times more potent than vitamin K1, which is another type of vitamin K. It significantly increases the percentage of osteocalcin and helps ward off inflammation as well.
While butter may contain vitamin K2, studies show that it does not contain a significant amount to be of much use. In a study by Dr. Weston A Price, over 20,000 samples of butter were analyzed. While animals that grazed on wheat grass and alfalfa had the highest amounts of vitamin K2, the soil of the pasture influenced the quality of the butter. This vitamin was present in high doses in butter produced by livestock that grazed on pasture with three feet or more of healthy topsoil.
Optimal Vitamin K2 Dosage
Please keep in mind that this is a fat-soluble vitamin. This should be ingested with a meal that contains fat or at least a capsule that contains fatty acids. The minimum effective dose of a short chain menaquinone (MK-4) is 1,500 mcg. If super loading is required, doses of up to 45mg have been used. A longer chain menaquinone like MK-7 will require more fatty acids to ensure absorption. The most effective treatment would be 90 to 360 mcg. At present, more research is needed to discover the maximum effective dose of MK-7.
Possible Side Effects of Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is usually safe for most people. However, precautionary measures should be practiced to ensure overall well-being and safety.
Oral Vitamin K2 supplements are seldom toxic. Both menaquinone and phylloquinone are considered safe. However, Vitamin K3 or menadione is known to be toxic and should be avoided.
Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should take no more than what is prescribed by a health professional. People with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar as it also lowers glucose levels.
Too much of this vitamin can be harmful to people who have kidney disease, especially individuals who are receiving dialysis treatments. It may also cause liver disease if used to treat clotting problems. Please note that it may make clotting problems worse if the patient already has liver disease.
Before taking any supplement, it would be best to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if a person has any pre-existing medical conditions to ensure his or her safety.
Vitamin K2 does seem to work as a testosterone booster. However, it has still not been tested on humans. It has only been tested on rats and that too with high doses. The same quantity if given to a human can prove toxic. We can draw definitive conclusions only after human studies are conducted.