Finding The Missing Nutrient: Vitamin K2

All that chat about vitamins can get confusing, but it pays to listen up about vitamin K2. We hear so much about the B’s, the D’s, the C vitamins, yet K is often pushed to the side.

Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that is understood to support calcium metabolism, bone health, the nervous system and cellular signaling. It may have a role in brain and cognitive health, and perhaps even help combat some types of cancer.

Despite being easily found in food, K is a vitamin that many people become deficient in, so making sure you’re getting enough is crucial.

The Different K Vitamins Explained

‘Vitamin K’ actually refers to a collection of compounds that have long been associated with healthy blood clotting. Two naturally occurring forms of vitamin K have been identified so far: vitamin K1 and K2. Both forms are biologically active in animals and humans.

Without going too deeply into the science here, vitamin K1 is preferentially used up by the liver in the synthesis of active blood clotting factors, while vitamin K2 is more strongly linked with skeletal and cardiovascular health.

Vitamin K1 (or phylloquinone) is a form that occurs naturally in foods like dark leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, olives, wheat, and other grains and tea. K1 is processed quickly by the liver and doesn’t stay too long in the body. Here’s a cool fact: Gut bacteria have the ability to convert vitamin K1 into a subtype of K2, menaquinone-4 (MK4)!

Vitamin K2 (sometimes called menaquinone-7) is a ‘long-chain’ molecule that has all the benefits of vitamin K, but is more bioavailable, doesn’t need to be converted and stays longer in the body. and has longer-lasting benefits. Rather than being excreted, K2 is distributed by the liver and circulated by LDL cholesterol.

K2 is primarily made by bacteria and is found in animal sources, such as liver (especially goose), organs, soft cheeses, butter, prawns, herring and egg yolks, plus one plant source - natto.

Read on to find out why a K vitamin that sticks around the body for longer is definitely a good thing!

Unpacking The Benefits Of Vitamin K

For a vitamin that’s not so often in the spotlight, vitamin K deficiency is surprisingly common. In severe cases deficiency symptoms can include bruising easily, the inability to stop bleeding at a wound or puncture site, or as an unusually heavy menstrual flow for women.

A vitamin K deficiency can be very serious - even life threatening. That’s because of the crucial roles it plays in the body. We can break these out into the following key functions and health benefits:

• Essential for healthy coagulation (blood clotting)
• Activates enzymes
• Regulates protein
• Controls how calcium is used and strengthens bones, especially in postmenopausal women
• Supports cardiovascular health by preventing calcification in the arterial walls (atherosclerosis) All these ensure that the body can heal wounds, prevent excess bleeding and regulate blood viscosity.

Vitamin K’s importance for bone health is well-supported (although not yet fully understood). Incredibly, it seems it can strengthen bones, but regulate the buildup of calcium around tissue and arteries. Quite the clever vitamin!

Finally - vitamin K also helps with cell function throughout the nervous system, the heart, lungs, stomach, kidneys and cartilage. It’s believed that vitamin K has a range of crucial cellular functions - signaling to other cells, cleaning up waste and debris, making new cells and preventing cell death.

Studies have also shown that vitamin K may inhibit cancer cell growth, and that dietary intake of K2 is associated with a reduced risk of prostate and lung cancer. However, rigorous trials are needed to explore this further.

How Much Vitamin K You Should Take To Avoid A Deficiency

Despite vitamin K naturally occurring in foods, most people don’t get enough from their everyday diet. The vitamin is extensively metabolised in the liver and excreted from the body, so levels need to be continually replenished.

As mentioned above, vitamin K2 is the most bioavailable and longest-lasting form of vitamin K. We include 80 mcg of the vitamin K2 subtype MK7 in Athletic Greens - it’s produced via fermentation from the same type of bacteria that produce the MK7 in natto.

The accepted daily amount of vitamin K is between 100 to 500 mg. Vitamin K is one of the fat-soluble vitamins (along with A, D, and E). Thanks to this, there’s no risk for toxicity as it doesn’t accumulate in the liver.

Note that synthetic forms of vitamin K such as K3 are toxic and should be avoided!

It’s also important to note that because vitamin K supports healthy coagulation, people taking blood-thinning medications such as warfarin should be cautious when supplementing with vitamin K, or even consuming a diet high in it.

As always, it’s a good idea to get your vitamin K from whole foods where possible. Here’s a tip: The bioavailability of vitamin K in the gut is improved by eating good fats and oils - so it can help to liberally sprinkle some olive oil over your dark green leafy salad!

If you take Athletic Greens every day, you’ll be supercharging your vitamin K intake and ensuring you get the full range of benefits from this essential nutrient.

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If you’re looking to overcome nutrient deficiencies, combat strong cravings, or give yourself an additional immune system boost, 2 daily servings is a better option.

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A double hit subscription is also a great choice if:

You suffer from everyday minor stress or weight issues*

You’re an athlete seeking enhanced performance during periods of intense training*

You want the best savings available for couples or families

Frequently Asked Questions

A vitamin K deficiency usually manifests as bruising easily, the inability to stop bleeding at a wound or puncture site, or for women, having an unusually heavy menstrual period. If you’re worried, consult your doctor.


Vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 are naturally occurring forms of vitamin K.

Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone, phytonadione or phytomenadione) occurs in plant foods, is processed quickly by the liver and doesn’t stick around too long in the body. Vitamin K2 (menaquinone or menatetrenone) is primarily found in animal foods, is more bioavailable and stays in the body longer.

Vitamin K3 (menaphthone or menadione) is a synthetic form of the vitamin which is toxic and should be avoided.


You sure can. Vitamin K1 is found in plant foods such as dark leafy greens (like kale and spinach), broccoli, cabbage, olives, wheat and other grains and tea. Vitamin K2 is found in animal foods like liver, organs, soft cheeses, butter, prawns, herring and egg yolks, and one plant source - natto.


As always, it’s best to get your nutrients from whole foods where possible. However, if you’re looking to supercharge your vitamin K intake, the accepted daily amount of vitamin K is between 100 to 500 mg. We include 80 mcg of the vitamin K2 subtype MK7 in Athletic Greens. Vitamin K is one of the fat-soluble vitamins (along with A, D, and E), so there’s no risk for toxicity as it doesn’t accumulate in the liver.


Consistency is key. For best results, take one serving of Athletic Greens daily, first thing in the morning. Try mixing it into a delicious green smoothie to supercharge your vitamin K2 intake.