Vitamin K1 vs K2: What's the Difference?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/15/2024

When discussing vitamins, many people overlook the great value that vitamins K1 and K2 can bring to their bodies.

Learn about vitamin K1 and K2, their distinct roles as nutritional powerhouses, from blood clotting to bone health, and what steps you can take to support your overall health.

Understanding Vitamin K1

Vitamin K1, also called phylloquinone, is essential for our body's health due to its clotting activity. It is chiefly involved in blood clotting.

Chemical structure of vitamin K1 and K2 (Menachinon-4 or menaquinone-4, MK-4 and Menachinon-7 or menaquinone -7, MK-7)

The Role of Vitamin K1 in the Body

Not only does vitamin K2 help with blood clotting, but it also supports bone metabolism. This ensures your bones stay strong and sturdy, just like the foundation of a skyscraper.

Sources of Vitamin K1

If you're wondering where to get this power-packed nutrient, leafy green vegetables are your best bet. From spinach to kale and broccoli, they’re all packed with vitamin K1.

The Impact of Vitamin K1 Deficiency

A deficiency might sound scary, but awareness can help us prevent it. Signs could range from easy bruising to slow wound healing due to delayed clot formation.

So next time you have an unexplained bruise or cut that won’t heal quickly, remember it could be due to a lack of vitamin K1.

The Importance of Vitamin K2 for Calcium Control and Bone Strength

Vitamin K2 is essential in directing calcium to where it should go. This helps prevent its build-up in places we don't want, like our arteries. Studies have shown that adequate intake of vitamin K2 promotes bone strength by improving calcium absorption.

Dietary Sources of Vitamin K2

Finding sources for this nutrient isn't hard. Animal products are rich in vitamin K2, which gets converted to vitalizing vitamin K2. For example, grass-fed dairy and fermented foods like natto are excellent sources.

Absorption of Vitamin K2

You'll love how easily you absorb these nutrients. Because it’s fat-soluble, your body soaks up more vitamin K2 than its cousin, vitamin K1. It sure knows how to get the most out of what you eat.

The Interplay Between Vitamins K1 and K2

Though similar, vitamins K1 and K2 have distinct roles in our bodies. They're both vital for health, yet each shines in different areas.

Vitamin K1 is recognized for its involvement in blood coagulation, while vitamin K2 has a significant role in sustaining bone robustness and controlling calcium. But what happens when these two meet? It's less of a battle royale and more of an elegant dance.

Vitamin K1, found primarily in leafy greens, can be converted into vitamin K2 by gut bacteria.

Conversely, consuming sufficient amounts of vitamin K through diet is equally crucial. It is better absorbed than its plant-based cousin due to its presence in fat-rich foods.

Research suggests this interplay might be why deficiencies are rare despite daily intake recommendations.

Factors Leading to Deficiencies in Vitamins K1 and K2

Deficiency in vitamins K1 and K2 can happen for various reasons. An absence of leafy greens, certain veggies, or animal-based food may cause inadequate levels of these essential vitamins.

Vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are prime sources of vitamin K1. If you're not a veggie fan, getting enough vitamin K1 might be challenging.

The same goes for vitamin K2 from animal sources such as cheese and eggs. Vegans or those with dietary restrictions may find themselves deficient without proper supplementation.

Apart from diet, poor absorption due to digestive issues could also lead to deficiencies. Conditions like Crohn's disease disrupt nutrient absorption, including that of both forms of vitamin K. Certain medications, too, can affect how your body uses these vitamins.

gut bacteria, microorganisms in human intestine

The Role of Gut Bacteria in Vitamin K Production

Phylloquinone, or vitamin K1, is crucial in preventing excessive bleeding and is necessary for proper blood clotting. On the other hand, vitamin K2 or menaquinone plays an essential role in calcium regulation and bone health.

Gut bacteria ensure we get both forms of this vital nutrient by converting dietary sources of vitamin K2 into its sister form, vitamin K1. This fantastic conversion process ensures our bodies receive adequate amounts of both vitamins.

This critical interaction between gut flora and nutrients underscores our bodily systems' interconnectedness. So next time you think about maintaining good health, remember: It’s not just what you eat; it’s also about who’s living inside your belly.

Vitamin K and D Connection

The connection between vitamin K and vitamin D is a vital aspect of maintaining overall health. Vitamin D is crucial in calcium absorption and essential for bone health.

However, vitamin D needs other nutrients to function optimally, and vitamin K is one of them. Vitamin K, particularly in its K2 form, helps regulate calcium metabolism, ensuring calcium is directed to the right places, like bones and teeth, rather than accumulating in soft tissues or arteries.

The synergy between vitamin D3 and K2 benefits not only bone health but also cardiovascular health. It helps prevent calcium buildup in arteries, reducing the risk of arterial calcification.

Therefore, ensuring adequate vitamin D and K intake through a balanced diet or supplements is often recommended, especially when managing bone or heart health concerns.

Consulting a healthcare provider is advisable for personalized guidance on supplementing these vitamins.


The exploration of vitamins K1 and K2 underscores their vital roles in promoting health. While K1 aids in blood clotting, K2 directs calcium for bone strength and arterial health.

Their interplay, facilitated by gut bacteria, highlights the interconnectedness of bodily functions. Moreover, their synergy with vitamin D underscores the importance of balanced nutrition for overall well-being.

Embracing this knowledge empowers us to cultivate a foundation of vitality and resilience through informed dietary choices and lifestyle practices.

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