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Natural Vitamin K2 Supplement 6 Times More Potent than K1 in a Human Study

PL Thomas & Company (PLT) of Morristown, NJ and NattoPharma, Norway today announced new findings for the dietary supplement MenaQ7 with significant potential benefits for bone health and cardiovascular health. MenaQ7 Natural Vitamin K2 as menaquinone-7 (MK-7) was shown to be superior to K1 in humans in several measurements, including markers of bone turnover, bioavailability and bioactivity in the body.

In the study, scientists at the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CARIM) and VitaK, Maastricht University, The Netherlands, demonstrated a significant superiority of Natural Vitamin K2 as Mk-7 in four different human models. They cited the major difference between the vitamin K species as the very long half-life time of Mk-7, which results in much more stable blood levels and 7 to 8 times greater accumulation of Mk-7 in the blood. Mk-7 also more effectively promoted and activated markers of bone building and showed a marked advantage against vitamin K antagonists.

According to the lead author Leon J. Schurgers, Ph.D.: "This is the first human study using natural vitamin K2 as a dietary supplement. Clearly Natural Vitamin K2 as menaquinone-7 is the most beneficial vitamin K that one could take. Large scale human studies have shown that eating foods rich in Vitamin K2 significantly promotes bone health, reduces risk of bone injury, and significantly promotes cardiovascular health."

The group of K vitamins is necessary to activate vitamin K-dependent proteins that are involved in the utilization of calcium – both for building strong bones and inhibiting calcium accumulation in the arteries. It is becoming increasingly obvious that we may need more vitamin K in our diets to fully activate the proteins. For example, it has been shown in the Journal of Nutrition LINK with 4,800 subjects that the highest consumption of Natural Vitamin K2 from food (45mcg/day) significantly reduced cardiovascular risk factors. This association was not demonstrated with vitamin K1.

In the new study the research demonstrated that after supplementation, Natural Vitamin K2 as Mk-7 is more effective in both promoting markers of bone health, and counteracting vitamin K antagonists. The mechanism underlying this observation may be MK-7's much longer half-life time in the circulation, the better cofactor activity, and its dramatically higher bioactivity.

Study 1 - Fifteen volunteers consumed vitamin K1 and blood was taken at regular intervals 2-96 hours after intake. After a washout period the same process was followed with Natural K2 (Mk-7) supplement. While both blood levels peaked at about 4 hours, by 8 hours the levels of vitamin K1 were 86% reduced, showing quick excretion. MK-7 in contrast, declined very slowly with measurable levels at 96 hours, the last point of measure in the study.

Study 2 - Ten volunteers were given increasing doses of both vitamin K1 and Natural K2 (MK-7). Both forms of vitamin K were absorbed, though Mk-7 was absorbed much better. At 24 hours, no effect was measured for vitamin K1 at the highest dose, while Mk-7 was at the upper level of the normal value for vitamin K.

Study 3 - Eighteen volunteers took either vitamin K1 or Natural K2 (Mk-7) for 6 weeks in a cross over design. Blood levels were measured and Mk-7 increased blood levels and plateaued after two weeks, while K1 remained slightly above placebo levels. Markers of bone turn-over were measured, and while both forms of vitamin K showed activity after 3 days, K1's effect did not increase while Mk-7's effect increased over the six-week period, resulting in a 6 fold more potent role for MK-7 as compared to K1.

Study 4 - Twelve volunteers were given differing doses of a blood thinning drug to reach the same level of anti-clotting activity. This drug is a vitamin K-antagonist, and measuring the response to vitamin K supplementation is a measure of K's activity in the body. Natural Vitamin K2 (Mk-7) was much more potent, demonstrating a superior bioactivity.

Taken together this study showed that Natural Vitamin K2 as menaquinone-7 (Mk-7) was better absorbed, had a longer plasma half-life time and a consequence was bioactive throughout the whole body as compared to vitamin K1.


Schurgers LJ, Teunissen KJ, Hamulyak K, Knapen MH, Vik H, Vermeer C. Vitamin K-containing dietary supplements: comparison of synthetic vitamin K1 and natto-derived menaquinone-7. Blood. 2006 Dec 7; [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 17158229

Key concepts: Vitamin K, warfarin, blood coagulation