Vitamin K2 MK-7 is vital throughout all stages of life. Men, women, boys and girls all need K2 for optimal health. The benefits of K2 create innovative commercial opportunities for virtually all consumer types and market categories. This blog series explores these opportunities.
The skeleton is the framework upon which musculature is built. The heart is an engine fuelling performance, pumping oxygen-rich blood to muscles and tissues during exercise. Vitamin K2 MK-7 is vital for 20 to 40-year-olds striving to perform better—whether competing against others or their own personal goals. The active adult years is the third in our K2 blog series.
Bones respond and adapt to athletic training. Bones thicken and become denser to withstand the stresses of training and thicker bones provide attachment points for the increased muscle mass stimulated by training. Resistance training develops bone in parallel with muscle, and in fact, the definition of ‘lean muscle mass’ includes measures of both muscle and bone. Finally, bone growth resulting from a specific activity supports the performance of that activity. Bones and muscles adapt to help you be better at an activity.
Vitamin K2 MK-7 activates the osteocalcin enzymes which integrate calcium into bone. Without K2, calcium and vitamin D3 can’t optimally support bone growth. Numerous studies demonstrate vitamin K2 supports bone growth, while others show that resistance training stimulates bone growth.[2, 4]
The years of 20 to 40 represent the peak of athletic performance for many—for amateurs and pros alike. Contact and team sports played in adolescence can extend into the twenties. The thirties often see a shift to individual pursuits like cycling, running and cardio training. The twenties also mark the period when peak bone mass (PBM) occurs. Bone density peaks, levels off, then begins a natural and inevitable decline.
Though despite PBM, bone growth can still be ‘actively managed’ via K2 supplementation and resistance training. The skeletal system can continue to grow and adapt in response to physical training after PBM is reached. K2 helps active, healthy individuals ‘get the most out of life’ by ensuring bones grow in parallel with muscles, are fit for the stresses of training, and adapt to support performance improvements over time.
K2 studies also demonstrate reduced bone fracture risk[6, 7] and improved bone mineral density (BMD) compared to a control group. Denser bones provide protection against the accidents, falls and collisions typical in many sports, including providing protection for internal organs. While certainly relevant for team and contact sports, this is also important for athletes at any age who appreciate the ability to ‘shake it off’ after falls in non-contact sports like skiing and cycling. Endurance athletes might also appreciate the minimisation of repetitive-motion stress fractures that can become bothersome after years of training.
Oxygen is nutrient; it feeds the systems of the body the energy required to accomplish work. The heart is the engine of the oxygen-delivery system, supported by a network of arteries and vessels. Calcium, while essential to bones, has a downside: excess calcium in the bloodstream can be deposited in the circulatory system, building up over time. The resulting hardening and loss-of-flexibility in arteries and vessels reduces the body’s ability to carry oxygen to muscles and tissues in response to physical activity.
K2 also activates matrix Gla proteins (MGP) which bind excess calcium in blood to prevent deposit in vessels and arteries. Vitamin K2 can even reverse existing levels of calcification and restore circulatory system flexibility.
Why is this relevant for young, active men and women? Because hardening and circulatory system flexibility-loss do not happen all at once, rather they take decades to develop. Some degree of arterial calcification may be common—it may affect as many as 1 in 3 adults. Early signs of calcification have even been observed in otherwise healthy adolescents. Restoration of flexibility to vessels and arteries, however minor, may contribute to the performance and stamina of active individuals. Vessel flexibility allows them to expand outward to accommodate increased blood flow requirements brought about by physical activity. Maximised blood flow ensures optimal oxygen transport to muscles and tissues during exercise. Flexible vessels reduce requirements on the heart to pump blood through the system. A study among athletes demonstrated short-term K2 supplementation produced a 12 percent performance improvement (cardiac output), though this may be linked to mitochondrial ATP production and not to restoration of circulatory system flexibility.
1. Kohrt, W.M., et al., American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand: physical activity and bone health. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2004. 36(11): p. 1985-96.
2. Dowthwaite, J.N. and T.A. Scerpella, Skeletal geometry and indices of bone strength in artistic gymnasts. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact, 2009. 9(4): p. 198-214.
3. Huang, Z.B., et al., Does vitamin K2 play a role in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis for postmenopausal women: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Osteoporos Int, 2015. 26(3): p. 1175-86.
4. Burrows, M., Exercise and bone mineral accrual in children and adolescents. J Sports Sci Med, 2007. 6(3): p. 305-12.
5. Cheng, S., et al., Bone mineral density and physical activity in 50-60-year-old women. Bone Miner, 1991. 12(2): p. 123-32.
6. Kaneki, M., et al., Japanese fermented soybean food as the major determinant of the large geographic difference in circulating levels of vitamin K2: possible implications for hip-fracture risk. Nutrition, 2001. 17(4): p. 315-21.
7. Yaegashi, Y., et al., Association of hip fracture incidence and intake of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K. Eur J Epidemiol, 2008. 23(3): p. 219-25.
8. Knapen, M.H., et al., Three-year low-dose menaquinone-7 supplementation helps decrease bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women. Osteoporos Int, 2013. 24(9): p. 2499-507.
9. Knapen, M.H., et al., Menaquinone-7 supplementation improves arterial stiffness in healthy postmenopausal women. A double-blind randomised clinical trial. Thromb Haemost, 2015. 113(5): p. 1135-44.
10. Rocha-Singh, K.J., T. Zeller, and M.R. Jaff, Peripheral arterial calcification: prevalence, mechanism, detection, and clinical implications. Catheter Cardiovasc Interv, 2014. 83(6): p. E212-20.
11. Newman, W.P., 3rd, et al., Relation of serum lipoprotein levels and systolic blood pressure to early atherosclerosis. The Bogalusa Heart Study. N Engl J Med, 1986. 314(3): p. 138-44.
12. McFarlin, B.K., A.L. Henning, and A.S. Venable, Oral Consumption of Vitamin K2 for 8 Weeks Associated With Increased Maximal Cardiac Output During Exercise. Altern Ther Health Med, 2017. 23(4): p. 26-32.