Vitamin K2 (MK-7) and Cardiovascular Health

Vitamin K2 (MK-7) and Cardiovascular Health
February 9, 2020 Sybil Skinner

Vitamin K2 as MK-7 has shown to inhibit arterial calcification and acts as an antioxidant.


What is Vitamin K?

K vitamins are a group of fat-soluble vitamins. The two most important forms found in food are Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and Vitamin K2 (menaquinone). Vitamin K1 is known for its role in blood coagulation (clotting). Vitamin K2 also contributes to coagulation, but more importantly, it is a form newly recognized for its essential role in building and maintaining healthy bones, as well as inhibiting calcium deposits in the arteries and blood vessels.

Supplemental Vitamin K2 exists in several forms, but the most common ones are the synthetic menaquinone-4 (MK-4) and the natural and nature-identical synthetic menaquinone-7 (MK-7).

 MK-7 is the superior form of Vitamin K

 All K vitamins are similar in structure, but differ in the length of the “side chain” – the longer the side chain, the better effect, and efficiency. Consequently, the long-chain menaquinones (especially MK-7) are the most desirable as they are nearly completely absorbed (body requires smaller doses) and stay in the blood for the longest time. This makes Vitamin K2 also available for tissues outside the liver, namely bones, arteries, and soft tissues. Studies consistently show that Vitamin K2 as MK-7 is much more effective compared to MK-4. This is mainly due to MK-7’s significantly higher:

*Absorption & Half-Life Time

*Accumulation in the Serum


An adequate intake of Vitamin K2 has been shown to influence the cardiovascular system positively.

 Calcification was once believed to be an irreversible process and a result of aging. However, it is now known that calcium accumulation is an actively regulated process involving the Vitamin K-dependent Matrix Gla Protein (MGP), the most potent inhibitor of vascular calcification known, which is actively engaged in recycling calcium.22

Healthy arterial tissues have shown to contain 100 times more Vitamin K2 than unhealthy arteries23, and the amount of calcium in the arteries is a risk factor for cardiovascular health.24 One might say that “you are as old as your arteries.” Studies in large population groups show that significant calcification in young people’s arteries makes them older than their chronological age. On the contrary, older persons with little or no calcification may deduct up to 10 years from their actual age.25

The Rotterdam Study (2004)26 shows that high dietary intake of Vitamin K2 – but not vitamin K1 – has a strong protective effect on cardiovascular health. Findings from this 10-year population-based study, which followed 4,807 initially healthy men and women >55 years of age from start, 

indicate that eating foods rich in natural Vitamin K2 (at least 32 mcg/day) results in 50% reduction of arterial calcification, 50% reduction of cardiovascular risk, and 25% reduction of all-cause mortality.

In 2008, these findings were confirmed by another population-based study with 16,000 persons from the Prospect-EPIC cohort population. Female participants aged 49-70 years at the start of the study, were followed up for eight years and were free of cardiovascular diseases at the baseline. The researchers found that for every 10mcg Vitamin K2 (MK-7, MK-8, and MK-9) consumed – not K1 – the risk of coronary heart disease was reduced by 9%.27

A study recently published in Vascular Pharmacology showed K2 as MK-7 boosts nitric oxide (NO), improving NO-dependent endothelial function. 

Endothelial dysfunction has been associated with many health issues, including being a well-established response to cardiovascular risk factors. It precedes the development of atherosclerosis, a disease of the arteries characterized by the development deposition of plaques and by vascular inflammation fatty material on the inner walls. Given the fact that endothelial function determines cardiovascular health, researchers hypothesized that the positive effects of Vitamin K2 intake on cardiovascular mortality could be linked to the Vitamin K-dependent regulation of endothelial function. The study concluded that Vitamin K2 as MK-7 provided benefits for cardiovascular health and played an essential role in the regulation of endothelial function.