If there’s one vitamin you aren’t paying enough attention to, it’s vitamin K2.
Vitamin k2, what is it?
It’s a fat-soluble vitamin in the vitamin K family but it’s much different than the more well-known vitamin K1.
And unlike vitamin K1, vitamin K2 has a more broad-reaching effect on multiple systems in the body including calcium regulation, cancer prevention, hormone balance, and more.
When you combine this with the fact that there’s a very high chance that you aren’t getting enough vitamin K2, it’s clear that getting more of this vitamin should be a priority.
The reality is that everyone should be concerned about their vitamin K2 status but I want to focus specifically on why thyroid patients need more of it.
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#1. Vitamin K2 is Involved in Calcium Regulation and Homeostasis
Vitamin K2 is the vitamin responsible for ensuring that the calcium in your body goes to all of the right places instead of the wrong ones.
You might not think this is a problem, but it is.
For various reasons, your body has a hard time putting calcium where it needs to go without the right inputs.
And when these inputs are not around, calcium ends up in places like…
- Your coronary arteries where it can cause heart disease
- And your kidneys where it can cause kidney stones
Instead of the places that you want it like…
- Your bones where it prevents osteoporosis
- And your teeth where it prevents cavities
Let’s focus on heart disease for a minute to really help drive this point home.
There is a known connection between thyroid function and the heart, including cholesterol levels.
When thyroid function is low, cholesterol levels increase.
But back on topic…
These high cholesterol levels are obviously problematic and lead to an increase in the risk of heart disease for patients with hypothyroidism.
This connection is so strong that even small changes in thyroid function can lead to big changes in regard to the risk of heart disease.
This effect is obvious when studying patients with subclinical hypothyroidism which is known as early thyroid failure.
People with this condition have abnormal thyroid lab tests but do not experience full-blown symptoms of hypothyroidism.
But even in this state, the slight change in thyroid function is enough to increase the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure (1).
Most of you listening to this are far beyond the state of subclinical hypothyroidism which means the impact of the thyroid on the heart and cholesterol are much more pronounced.
This means that doing what you can to mitigate your risk of heart disease is incredibly important for someone with a thyroid problem.
And one way to do this may be with the use of vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 has been shown to reduce arterial stiffness and slow the effect of vascular calcification.
In simple terms, it helps to prevent calcium buildup in your artery walls making your arteries healthier and more pliable.
We will talk more about how to get vitamin K2 in a minute so sit tight but, for now, let’s move on to the next big reason to take it…
#2. It Helps Strengthen Your Bones and Prevents Pre-Mature Bone Loss
It may not sound sexy to prevent bone loss, but it’s actually far more important than you might realize.
And this is for one big reason:
Having stronger bones protects against fractures (or breaking your bones).
One of the most serious consequences of falling for someone that is older is the risk of breaking a bone and the subsequent consequences.
A simple fracture of a single bone can severely reduce your quality of life, increase your risk of death, and lead to problems like chronic pain.
The best way to approach bone health, at least in my opinion, is to ensure that your bones stay healthy so you don’t have to worry about osteopenia, osteoporosis, or bone fractures in the future.
Doing this is easier said than done, especially for those with thyroid disease.
Your thyroid hormones help to regulate the cells, osteoblasts and osteoclasts, involved in both the production and the breakdown of your bones.
If you have hyperthyroidism, your bones will turn over more quickly and become brittle because of the overstimulation of osteoclasts.
If you have hypothyroidism, your bones will be mineralized however the quality of the bone is poor which means you still are at increased risk for fractures (2).
So pretty much no matter what type of thyroid condition you have, there’s a good chance your bone health will suffer.
And what makes this more complicated is the impact that thyroid medications have on bone health as well.
The more thyroid medication you take to help you feel better, the lower your TSH will go, and the more likely you are to develop bone problems later in life.
So, in essence, you may be trading the resolution of low thyroid symptoms right now for bone problems later.
The bottom line is that maintaining healthy bones is both difficult and critical for patients with thyroid disease.
As I mentioned previously, one way to help ensure that your bones remain healthy and strong is with the use of vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 helps to push calcium into your bones to ensure that they have the minerals they need for quality and strength (3).
#3. Vitamin K2 Has Anti-Cancer Properties
Beyond the impact that vitamin K2 has on the heart and bones, which is definitely important, it also has an impact on cancer risk.
Why is this important for thyroid patients?
Because, unfortunately, there appears to be some connection between thyroid function and the risk of multiple types of cancers.
And this connection can be seen from two different angles:
The first is related to the use of thyroid medications like levothyroxine.
Studies have shown that there is some correlation between the use of levothyroxine and the risk of multiple types of cancer.
And the second is related to the dysfunction that hypothyroidism causes in the body.
So putting aside the use of levothyroxine or other thyroid medications, it appears that thyroid function itself is important for preventing cancer (4).
Notice I said there’s a correlation here because that one word is very important in this context.
There’s not enough evidence to prove that thyroid dysfunction or levothyroxine CAUSE cancer directly, but there’s a growing body of evidence connecting the two together in some way.
Regardless of the exact connection, I think we can all agree that reducing cancer risk is still important and, if possible, is worth doing.
Vitamin K2 has been shown to have anti-cancer effects on a number of different cell lines.
And it may be worth exploring if you have thyroid disease and if you are worried about your own personal risk of cancer.
I’m not saying that vitamin K2 will prevent or treat cancer,
but if taking it happens to have a positive effect on cancer risk then that’s just an added bonus on top of its positive effects on bone health and heart disease.
How to Get More Vitamin K2
When all is said and done, it’s my belief that taking vitamin K2 is a no-brainer for patients with thyroid disease.
The question is, how can you get more of this important vitamin?
And here you have two options:
You can get it naturally from very specific foods and/or you can also get it in supplement form.
The foods highest in vitamin K2 include (5):
- Fermented foods like natto
- Dark chicken meat
- hard cheeses
- egg yolk
- And liver
If you aren’t eating these foods on a regular basis then you can also get vitamin K2 from supplements.
If you want to go that route you’ll want to get vitamin K2 as MK4 and MK7.
MK4 and MK7 have slightly different benefits based on the tissues where they exert their action.
MK7, for instance, appears to make it to the bones more readily than MK4 making it the better option for supporting bone health more generally (6).
It’s also the preferred form for supporting metabolic health and improving exercise performance.
MK4, on the other hand, tends to concentrate in other tissues beyond the bones (7) which makes it the better option for its anti-cancer effects and for supporting sex hormones.
Do not confuse vitamin K1 with vitamin K2 as their benefits and effects are completely different.
Because vitamin K2 is less well-known compared to vitamin K1, most supplements do not contain it.
If you look on the back of your supplement bottle and you see vitamin K listed just as vitamin K, it’s almost guaranteed that you are getting vitamin K1 and not vitamin K2.
If vitamin K2 is present, you should specifically see the name “Vitamin K2” along with the form as either MK4 or MK7.
Ideally, you’ll want to aim to get around 100 to 200 mcg per day of vitamin K2 for general health and wellness.
Some people take and recommend much higher doses for people who are trying to treat specific problems such as bone loss or heart disease.
Because vitamin K2 is quite safe, taking higher doses doesn’t pose a problem but there’s one thing you should be aware of:
Vitamin K2 (along with vitamin K1) can interfere with blood thinners.
So if you are taking any medication that aims to thin your blood (or acts as an anti-coagulant) then you should discuss the use of vitamin K2 with your doctor.
While I wouldn’t call vitamin K2 a miracle vitamin, there’s no question that thyroid patients are not getting enough of it and that taking it has the potential to provide a number of benefits.
I would go as far as to say that you can consider it a standard necessary supplement for thyroid patients, especially if you are suffering from bone loss or heart disease.
My recommendation would be to take vitamin K2 as part of a vitamin ADK complex.
Vitamin A provides benefits to thyroid cellular sensitivity, vitamin D provides general health, and vitamin K2 provides the benefits we’ve just discussed.
And, by the way, if you have thyroid problems and you are trying to find ways to naturally improve your thyroid then make sure to check out this article.
There are plenty of things you can do right away to manage your symptoms and improve how you feel.
Now I want to hear from you:
Were you aware of the importance of vitamin K2?
Are you currently taking vitamin K2?
If so, which form are you taking and how much?
Are you planning on taking an ADK2 supplement after reading this? Why or why not?
Leave your questions or comments below!