You are what you eat, and including an array of vitamins and minerals in your diet can benefit your overall health. You're probably familiar with some of the "big name" vitamins and minerals and how they help your body function at its best. Calcium and vitamin D work together to strengthen your bones, explains the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH also notes that vitamin C plays a role in healing wounds and maintaining your teeth, cartilage and bones.
Some lesser-known vitamins, such as vitamin K2, also have benefits, and researchers are investigating whether these vitamin K2 benefits extend to the oral cavity.
What Is Vitamin K2?
Just as there are multiple forms of vitamin B (B1, B3, B6 and B12, to name a few), there are multiple forms of vitamin K. Vitamin K1 is made from a compound called phylloquinone and vitamin K2 is made from menaquinones, according to the NIH.
While vitamin K1 often comes from eating leafy green vegetables, vitamin K2 is typically produced by bacteria found in the human digestive system. It's also found in fermented foods and in animal-based foods. Natto, a type of fermented soybean paste that's popular in Japan, is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin K2. It's also found in cheese, but the amount varies based on how the cheese is made.
Vitamin K2 Health Benefits
When doctors and dentists discuss the benefits of vitamin K, they are often referring to the health benefits of vitamin K1, which the NIH describes as the preferred form of the vitamin. It is stronger, less toxic and faster acting. But vitamin K2 also has its share of benefits.
One of the possible vitamin K2 benefits is helping protect your bones from osteoporosis. The NIH notes that a particular form of vitamin K2 might help strengthen the bones and reduce the risk of fracture in older women who have weak bones. Vitamin K2 doesn't seem to offer much to women who still have strong bones, though.
A study published in Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal discusses vitamin K2's role in helping keep the walls of the blood vessels clear of calcium deposits. One of the drawbacks of taking calcium supplements to build strong bones is that the calcium can build up on the walls of a person's arteries, making them stiffer and increasing the risk of heart disease. Elevating your vitamin K2 intake might help reduce the risk of calcium-related heart disease, the study notes.
Can Vitamin K2 Help Your Teeth?
Dental researchers have pondered the role of vitamin K2 in oral health, but so far, there haven't been any scientifically valid, human studies on the effects of vitamin K2 on the teeth. As of yet, there have only been discussions and hypotheses put forward about the potential benefits of vitamin K2 for your teeth, such as one published in Medical Hypotheses. This hypothesis suggests vitamin K2 may play a role in preventing cavities; however, more research needs to be conducted on the subject.
Although vitamin K2 does have health benefits and is worth seeking from dietary sources, it shouldn't replace your fluoride toothpaste or a regular at-home oral care routine. Eating a healthy diet — one that provides the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals based on your gender and age — can have benefits for your entire body, including the health of your teeth and gums. Along with eating healthfully, seeing your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings will also help you maintain a healthy smile. Remember, if you have any questions about vitamin K2 and other nutrients, your dentist can provide you with answers.