According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually worldwide, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds. Worldwide, 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will 1 in 5 men in the same age group. These statistics would be vastly changed if the global population could protect and promote their bone health by taking a simple vitamin. Vitamin K2 as MK-7 (menaquinone-7) is a newly recognised vitamin shown in clinical studies to support both bone health by activating proteins that help the body to properly use calcium. Unfortunately, most populations are deficient in this important nutrient from diet alone1, making supplementation a necessary alternative.
K vitamins are a group of fat-soluble vitamins of which the two most important forms are vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone). Vitamin K1 is found in plant sources, while Vitamin K2 is the product of fermentation and found in foods such as natto or cheese.
Vitamin K2 is a group of compounds called the menaquinones—1 through 13—and works by activating special proteins that allow the body to properly use calcium. One such protein is osteocalcin, and another is matrix Gla protein (MGP). The former attracts calcium where it is needed most—mostly into bones and teeth—while the latter works like a broom, sweeping calcium out of places where it is needed least—namely, soft tissues like veins and arteries. Proteins already present in the body need cofactors to be able to function properly. In case of vitamin K2 deficiency, they remain ‘under-carboxylated’ or inactive.2
NattoPharma has funded a large clinical study to explore and document bone effects of a daily intake of MenaQ7®. The double-blind, randomised trial involvd 244 healthy post-menopausal participants and was performed at the University of Maastricht. The results were published in the peer-reviewed journal, Osteoporosis International, in 2013.6
The data demonstrated the first clinically and statistically significant protection of the vertebrae and the hip (femoral neck) against bone loss. This was achieved with a daily nutritional dose of 180 mcg MenaQ7. The supplementation group significantly increased circulating active osteocalcin (cOC), a well-established biomarker for bone and vitamin K status, while the inactive osteocalcin (ucOC) decreased by 51% +/- 21%, as compared to the placebo group where the comparable data were +4% +/- 49%. After three years of supplementation, maintenance in both bone mineral content and bone mineral density were statistically significant better in the MenaQ7 group. Moreover, bone strength was statistically improved, demonstrating therapeutic benefits for the MenaQ7 group as compared to the placebo group.3
Maintaining the best possible bone health represents one of the most critical areas allowing healthy ageing.
1 Shea MK et al. Circulating uncarboxylated matrix gla protein is associated with vitamin K nutritional status, but not coronary artery calcium, in older adults. J Nutr. 2011 Aug;141(8):1529-34.
2 Willems AG et al. The realm of vitamin K dependent proteins: Shifting from coagulation toward calcification. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2014.58, 1620-1635.
3 Knapen MHJ et al. Three-year low-dose menaquinone- 7 supplementation helps decrease bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women. Osteoporos Int. 2013 Sep;24(9):2499-507.