Maintaining your health is not a simple task. It requires you to ensure that you are doing everything right, including taking all the necessary nutrients including proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, and fats in reasonable amounts.
Sometimes, even with the best of diets, you lack certain vitamins and need to ensure that you make up for the missing nutrients through changes in diet or supplements. Vitamin D3 and K2 are needed in many essential in our bodies and should be at optimal levels for the proper functioning of our health.
What is Vitamin D3?
Vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble nutrient belonging to the family of vitamins D. Collectively, the vitamin D family is known as “the Sunshine Vitamin” because sunlight helps produce vitamin D in the skin.
Where is Vitamin D3 Found in Nature?
Vitamin D3 is mainly sourced from animals. Main sources of vitamin D3 include the following:
- Egg Yolk
- Oily fish
- Fish oil
Other than that, vitamin D3 is mainly taken from dietary supplements.
Vitamin D Deficiency
There is a pandemic of Vitamin D deficiency. A total of 1 billion people around the world suffer from this condition. This insufficiency happens because of a lack of sufficient outdoor activities and air pollution.
Due to this, many people suffer from a range of disorders and diseases. Studies suggest that the current recommended amount of Vitamin D is much lower than what we need to stave off chronic diseases.
Vitamin D Weight Loss Benefits
Vitamin D allows you to lose weight by reducing body fat, especially the fat nearer to vital organs. It helps in reducing insulin resistance and enhancing glucose metabolism. It also helps improve thyroid function which, in turn, optimizes metabolism.
Vitamin D and Sunlight
As mentioned before, the main source of vitamin D is the sunlight, which starts the reaction for the production of vitamin D3. Ultraviolent B in the sunlight hits the skin to activate special receptor cells charged with making vitamin D. The resulting chemical reaction starts the production of vitamin D3.
However, getting all the required vitamin D3 from sunlight can be hazardous. That would require staying out in the sun without sunblock. According to US Prevention Services Task Force, if you have darker skin or use sunscreen, you might not get enough vitamin D3 from the sun.
A major concern from being out in the sun for too long is that prolonged exposure to the sun can cause cancer.
That is why, it is recommended that you should take vitamin D3 from supplements, not from the sunlight.
Vitamin D2 vs D3
Vitamin D comes in three forms: D1, D2, and D3. D1 is not important for humans and it is a mixture of compounds, not present in vitamin D form. That is why the term vitamin D1 is no longer used.
Vitamin D2 and D3 are both important for the body. However, healthcare experts recommend D3 supplements instead of D2 because D3 supplements increase the vitamin D levels more effectively as compared to D2, according to a study.
The liver converts vitamin D3 into 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 and D2 into 25-hydroxyvitamin D2. These two are collectively called calcifediol. This is the form of vitamin D that flows in the blood and shows up in tests for vitamin D levels.
The reason that vitamin D3 is preferred over D2 is that D3 yields higher amounts of calcifediol as compared to the same dose of D2. This has been proven by many studies.
Vitamin D3 Dosage Guidelines
The correct dosage for vitamin D3 supplements depends upon a range of factors. Your dosage will change depending upon how much sunlight you are typically exposed to, what your current levels of vitamin D are, and what your goals are for vitamin D3 levels.
The National Institute of Health provides the following chart for Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D.
However, it is recommended that you do not take vitamin D3 alone. Vitamin D3 should be taken with vitamin K2 to make it more effective and make.
What is Vitamin K2?
Vitamin K was first mentioned in a Germany-based journal. It was first pronounced as “Koagulationsvitamin”. This is where the “K” first came from.
It was also noted by Weston Price, a dentist who noticed that non-industrial diets provided heightened protection against chronic disease and tooth decay, due to some unknown nutrient. He named it “activator X” which was later changed to Vitamin K.
Where is Vitamin K Found in Nature?
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient, usually found in vegetables, fermented legumes, and leafy greens. It is also found in cheese, egg yolk, liver, and other fatty foods sourced from animals. It is essential for accumulating calcium in teeth and bones and for blood clotting.
Vitamin K Deficiency
A deficiency of the vitamin can increase blood vessel calcification, a condition associated with heart disease.
Protection Against Heart Diseases
One of the major factors in heart disease is calcium buildup in arteries. Reducing that buildup can help prevent heart diseases. Vitamin K2 helps prevent calcium from depositing calcium in human arteries.
In 10 years-long study, those taking vitamin K2 in the highest doses were 57 percent less likely to develop heart disease and had a 52 percent lower risk of developing calcification in their arteries.
In another study, comprising over 16 thousand women sample, higher intake of vitamin K2 led to a progressively reduced risk of heart diseases. The risk lowered by 9 percent for every 10 mg of vitamin K2 increase in dosage.
Vitamin K2 and Osteoporosis
Since vitamin K2 is integral to calcium metabolism, there is growing evidence that vitamin improves bone health tremendously.
Osteoporosis affects older women disproportionally. However, this problem can be reduced significantly if older women start taking vitamin K2 supplements before they are affected.
Among women with osteoporosis, vitamin K2 reduced non-spinal fractures by 81 percent and spinal fractures by 60 percent.
Vitamin K2 is also essential for dental health as well. It activates osteocalcin, a protein important in both bone and dental health.
Vitamins A and D work in synergy with vitamin K2 to maintain dental health.
Despite advances in cancer treatment, new cancer is on the rise. Human studies have found that vitamin K2 exhibits anti-cancer properties.
In a study comprising 11000 male participants, the risk of prostate cancer was lowered by 63 percent in those with a high intake of vitamin K2.
Further studies are needed to confirm the vitamin’s anti-cancer properties but the research in anti-cancer properties of vitamin K2 looks promising.
Vitamin K1 vs. K2
When vitamin K was discovered, it was described as the nutrient that was associated with blood clotting. It comes in two forms: vitamins K1 and K2. Apart from blood clotting, vitamin K is involved in heart health and calcium metabolism.
One of the most important functions of vitamin K is to prevent calcification of kidneys and blood vessels while promoting the calcification of bones.
The differences between vitamins K1 and K2 are so many that some scientists support classifying K1 as a totally different nutrient. A 2003 animal study supported this idea where vitamin K2 significantly decreased calcification in blood vessels while vitamin K1 did not.
Vitamin K2 has also proven to improve heart and bone health in humans while vitamin K1 has no such benefits.
Importance of Taking Vitamin D3 with K2
There is increasing evidence that taking high doses of vitamin D3, when your K2 levels are low, can be dangerous and counterproductive. As mentioned before, a high dose of vitamin D is needed in order to prevent chronic diseases. Without K2, high doses might not be safe.
This idea is supported by a range of evidence discussed below.
When vitamin K2 levels are low in the body, high doses of vitamin D3 can cause hypercalcemia. This is marked by a high amount of calcium in the blood.
Blood Vessel Calcification
If hypercalcemia is allowed to persist, the phosphorous in the blood binds with calcium to make large amounts of calcium phosphate. The product can accumulate in the blood vessels’ lining to form the condition known as blood vessel calcification (BVC).
BVC and Heart Disease
BVC has the potential of leading to heart disease. Thus, high doses of vitamin D can lead to heart disease.
Vitamin K2 and BVC
BVC is associated with vitamin K deficiency. Studies have observed that there is a link between vitamin K deficiency and BVC.
A study aimed at observing the impact of vitamin K and BVC found out that giving a high dose of vitamin K2 helped prevent BVC in rats.
Vitamin K also reduced BVC in human trials where 500 mg of vitamin K supplements reduced BVC by 6 percent.
Another human study found that a high intake of vitamin K2 from foods results in reduced heart disease and BVC.
In short, high doses of vitamin D are needed to keep the chronic diseases away by increasing calcium levels in the body but may cause BVC. Vitamin K2 can help stave off the threat of BVC.
Frequently Asked Questions
Having looked at the basics of vitamin D3 and K2, it is important to answer the most frequently asked questions about this supplement.
Why do I need vitamin D3 in high doses?
Studies have shown that it is difficult to take all the vitamin D that we need through sunlight and nutrition alone. If we were to expose ourselves to sunlight long enough to generate the vitamin D we need, it may increase the risk of sunburn and, in the longer term, even cancer. Supplements provide an easy and safe way to ensure that our vitamin D needs are met.
Why is vitamin K2 needed with vitamin D3?
While vitamin D3 helps supplement the body with the calcium it needs, it may increase the calcium levels in blood vessels to higher levels than recommended. Vitamin K2 helps with this issue.
Why is vitamin D3 better than D2?
Vitamin D3 is more effective in increasing the calcifediol in the blood with relatively smaller doses as compared to vitamin D2.