On our first article on vitamin K2 titled, An easy step toward stopping tooth decay, we asked if you’d like us to analyze the various vitamin K2 supplements on the market. With over 150 comments on that article, we heard your resounding “YES”.
So, let’s continue the conversation about this often-overlooked cavity-stopping vitamin by reviewing the best vitamin K2 supplements on the market.
Note: Don’t have time to read the whole thing? Click here to jump straight to our brand reviews.
As we explored in our expert interview with Dr Kate Rheaume-Bleue (the person who literally wrote the book on vitamin K2), let’s start this discussion by stating that food really is our best option for maintaining optimal K2 levels.
However, in our modern lifestyle, it can be difficult to ensure that our ideal nutritional needs are met each day through diet alone.
So, for some, supplementation may be helpful. But which one is right for you?
To help you navigate this path, we’re going to need to recruit your values.
You see, there is no ‘best’ vitamin K2 on the market. Yeah, it’s true that some are better than others, and we’ll share what our research has found. But as you’ll see, what one person will consider ‘best’ for their needs may not be best for another.
There are really three main variables we want to explore in this article to help us see clearly through the maze of K2 supplements on the market.
What are you looking to achieve?
As we’ll explore, there are various types/forms of vitamin K2. Some forms may be better for certain health applications than others.
Are you ok with using a bio-identical synthetic form of vitamin or does it have to be naturally occurring?
We will explore each side of this discussion and offer our findings for the best of each.
Do you use soy products or does it have to be non-soy based?
Many vitamin K2 supplements on the market are produced using soybeans. Due to GMOs and soy-related inflammatory issues, many of us look to steer clear of soy products. So we’ll explore the soy factor, too.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and jump into this fascinating subject by first understanding the various forms of vitamin K2.
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Differences between MK4, MK7 and other forms of K2
Ok, this tends to be the first place we all get snagged with understanding vitamin K2. For the record, vitamin K2 is the name for a group of compounds that are all very similar but have different length molecular ‘tails’, each designated by numbers. MK4 and MK7 are two examples.
The official name for K2 is menaquinone. So, if we ‘decode’ MK4 for example, the ‘M’ stands for menaquinone, the ‘K’ is for vitamin K and the ‘4’ is the length of the tail.
While there are several forms of K2, for this discussion, we’re going to focus on the two main forms science has studied: MK4 and MK7.
MK4 – animal source K2
MK4 is found most commonly in animal products, and it is most likely the nutrient that Dr Weston Price identified as ‘activator X’ during his studies and travels around the world researching indigenous peoples and their native diets. Dr Price noticed that many tribes tended to eat certain foods in specific combinations, and although the exact foods varied from place to place, we now see that these foods are all high in MK4.
Some of the food sources with the highest levels of MK4 are goose liver and dark meat from chicken/goose. While much less potent, even pastured egg yolks are a decent source of MK4 (and duck eggs even better).
MK7 – bacterial source K2
Unlike MK4, MK7 is produced from bacterial fermentation rather than directly from animal sources. This is of obvious importance if you eat a vegetarian/vegan diet.
The food that contains the highest amount of MK7 is a Japanese fermented soybean product called natto. Interestingly, the traditional Japanese diet is heavily based in ocean animals, and seafood does not contain a lot of MK4 (from animal sources). So, in the wisdom that only time can bring, the traditional Japanese culture identified fermented natto as another source for this critically important nutrient.
Other good food sources for MK7 include aged cheeses (again, this is due to the fermentation process).
Now that we have a good base understanding of MK4 and MK7, let’s see why the distinction between the two forms plays an important role in navigating this maze.
What are you trying to achieve?
If you’ve done any reading on the benefits of K2, you already know that its main health benefits all revolve around how our bodies utilize calcium. When we interviewed Dr Kate Rheaume-Bleue, we discussed how K2 helps give calcium an ‘intelligence’ of where to go (and where not to go) in the body.
You see, when calcium makes its way to the right places in the body, it helps us maintain healthy, strong bones (to avoid osteoporosis) and strong teeth (to avoid tooth decay).
However, when calcium winds up in the wrong places, it can result in arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and kidney problems. So, it’s really important that we have enough vitamin K2 in our system to guide the calcium to where it’s needed and keep calcium out of where it can cause trouble.
However, aside from giving calcium intelligence, vitamin K2 plays an important role in lots of other body functions as well. It:
- Supports whole body health by optimizing sex hormones
- Helps to stabilize blood sugar by keeping us sensitive to insulin
- It even helps our bodies produce a healthy genetic expression to avoid cancer
Since we’re all about oral health around here, we’re going to focus on how K2 can help us to avoid the dentist’s drill and live a cavity-free life.
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How K2 helps may be partly determined by how long it lasts in the body.
In his absolutely stellar article on vitamin K2, Chris Masterjohn explains that the amount of time that K2 remains active in the body may determine whether the K2 will be able to help recover soft tissues or be around long enough to help rebuild bones (and teeth).
You see, MK4 doesn’t last as long in the body as MK7. In fact, if you choose to consume or supplement MK4, you’ll want to do it multiple times per day. Because of this shorter half-life (kind of like a ‘lifespan in the body’), Masterjohn points out that MK4 isn’t going to reach the bones as easily.
Interestingly, MK4 does have a particular affinity to support sex hormones and genetic expression.
In contrast, MK7 has a longer half-life and you can supplement once daily, so it has a greater opportunity to support bone tissue than MK4.
So, if you’re looking for support to live a cavity-free life, MK7 may be the better choice. On the other hand, if you’re simply looking for more support for soft tissues and hormones, you might choose to go with MK4 instead.
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Are you ok with using synthetic K2 or is ‘natural’ a must?
Since this article is all about K2 supplementation, we’re going to assume that you’re not able to get enough K2 into your system via diet alone.
All of the MK4 supplements we found on the market are synthetic. That said, the molecular structure of these supplements is identical to naturally-occurring MK4.
In contrast, there are plenty of MK7 products on the market that are produced via natural fermentation.
So, if your values require that you avoid synthetic anything, then MK7 is your only choice for supplementing with K2.
Do you do soy?
In this world of ever-increasing jumpy immune systems, many of us are choosing to avoid soy products. And honestly, it’s for good reason.
93% of soy grown in the US is genetically modified to give it an increased tolerance to herbicides and pesticides. The chemicals that are sprayed on GMO crops have been linked to an increased risk of leaky gut, which causes systemic inflammation and opens the door to autoimmune disease.
As we shared above, the main source for MK7 is fermented soy.
So, one of the criteria we included in our research was whether or not the product was produced using soy. If it’s soy based, it has to be organic to avoid the above inflammation causing factor.
The good news is that companies have noticed that consumers are shifting away from soy, so they’ve begun to produce MK7 via the fermentation of chickpeas (garbanzo beans).
How much is the ‘right’ amount?
Given all of the variables, it has proven a bit tricky to determine how much K2 to supplement daily.
One factor to consider is how much you’re able to supply via diet. Another factor is whether you’re looking for nutritional support or a pharmacological dose. Thankfully, there’s quite a bit of active research being performed on K2, so we should have more questions answered in the next few years.
To help us find a general nutritional amount of K2 needed to help us steer clear of tooth decay, let’s quickly review the research for pharmacological doses.
For MK4, research suggests that 45 mg/day is needed to provide a pharmacological dose. And for MK7, the amount most recognized as ideal (again, for pharmacological purposes) is 320 mcg/day. (Note the distinction between mg and mcg. 1 mg = 1000 mcg)
As we discussed in An easy step toward stopping tooth decay, MK4 and MK7 become bio-available in the body in different amounts. We can take much less MK7 and see impact in blood markers that measure K2. In one study, researchers found that there was no change in blood markers for participants who took a dose of MK4 that was less than 500 mcg.
So for a nutritional amount of MK4, we believe that we have to get above 500 mcg daily (and more likely approach 1500 mcg [1.5 mg] daily) to see results.
On the other hand, the research for MK7 indicates that somewhere between 100 – 200 mcg of MK7 daily seems to provide consistent results in participants.
So, for the purposes of comparing the daily cost of some of the supplements on the market, we’re going to use 1000 mcg of MK4 and 100 mcg of MK7 as our baseline.
What about the ‘right’ amount for children?
One study found that pre-puberty children responded well to MK7 at 45 mcg daily.
Additional K2 tips
As always, be responsible with any supplement advice and seek the opinion of your healthcare provider before starting any new supplementation.
On blood thinners? Stay away from K2
If you are on blood thinner drugs like Warfarin or are at risk of clotting issues, please check with your physician before supplementing vitamin K2.
Take K2 with meals…
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Ok, with all that in place, let’s discuss our findings on the best supplement options based on the criteria we’ve discussed above.
We intentionally chose to include K2-only supplements and to exclude supplements that are a combination of K2 and vitamin D. It just got too confusing to attempt to include the vitamin D variable in this analysis.
Full disclosure: We don’t have any affiliation with any of the brands here but the links below are affiliate links to amazon when appropriate.
Top MK4 options:
Thorne liquid K2 wins on cost. At 1 mg (1000 mcg) of MK4 per one drop, taking 1-2 drops a day costs 5-10 cents a day.
In response to our first article on K2, many of you asked for our thoughts on Now brand K2. This product is MK4 form but contains only 100 mcg per capsule. So, to get to the 1000 mcg, you’d have to take 10 capsules daily. And while the price on the surface is an attractive $8.49 on amazon, it would cost you 85 cents per day to get to our benchmark 1000 mcg of MK4.
Honorable mention goes to Relentless Improvement brand K2. At a whopping 15mg (15000 mcg) per serving, this product is fully going after pharmacological levels. So, while it’s not possible to bring the per day amount down to our 1mg (1000 mcg) goal, for anyone looking for a bigger amount, this may be the one for you.
Top MK7 options (soy free):
One cool brand is Sports Research. They have taken the MK7 from chickpea at 100 mcg and combined it with coconut oil for improved absorption (with fats, right?). I’m not sure if adding a little coconut oil warrants 25 cents per day, but the idea is sound. This brand is soy-free.
Several of the brands that sell MK7 use a form produced by NattoPharma, a company that specializes in creating MK7 on chickpea instead of the customary soy. Look for the name ‘MenaQ7’ for MK7 without soy. They are all around the same cost at 17 or 18 cents per day for 100 mcg of MK7.
One of our favorites has been ProNordic K2. Like many others, the K2 is MK7 produced on chickpea, so soy-free. It also has some MCT oil with it to increase absorption. Regular retail on amazon is 30 cents per 100 mcg. But we have noticed that every once in a while, the company lowers the price to move stock. So, if you time it right, we’ve found that you can get it for around 14 cents per 100 mcg. One drawback is they do include carmel color though.
Honorable mention to Megaquinone. They have extensive research behind their product and have combined the MK7 from fermented chickpea with essential cofactors that increase uptake of vitamin K2. It has 160 mcg of MK7 per capsule. The drawback is that it’s more expensive. Depending on where you shop, it’s around 70 cents per day. This product is soy-free.
Top combination MK4/MK7 options:
Our top pick supplement that contains both MK4 and MK7 is LifeExtension Super K. With its combination of 200 mcg of MK7 and 1000 mcg of MK4, you get both forms of K2 at good nutritional levels. And the price is really competitive at 18 cents per day.
Also, InnovixLabs Full Spectrum K2 provides a nice blend of 100 mcg MK7 and 500 mcg of MK4 with medium chain triglycerides (fat) for improved absorption. At 25 cents per day, it’s definitely worth considering.
We like the idea of Garden of Life Raw K because like many GoL products, it contains lots of extras. However, at 29 cents per day the price is pretty steep. It contains 100 mcg of MK7 and only 100 mcg of MK4.
A food-based DIY option?
For those of you who really like to take matters into your own hands, Dr Mercola has a fermented vegetable starter culture that has been cultivated to encourage K2 (MK7) production.
Also, while it’s true that you can get ‘superfoods’ like high vitamin butter oil, ghee or emu oil which tout high MK4 levels, getting enough K2 from foods is an expensive habit (unless you have the stomach for natto).
|Brand||Type of K2||Amount per
|Thorne liquid K2||MK4||1000 mcg (1 mg)||$.05||best value|
|Now K2||MK4||100 mcg||$.85|
|Relentless Improvement||MK4||15000 mcg||$.33||phamacological level|
|Sports Research||MK7||100 mcg||$.25||added coconut oil|
|various brands using MenaQ7||MK7||100 mcg||$.17-.25|
|ProNordic||MK7||100 mcg||$.30 ($.14 on sale)||added MCT for absorption|
|Mega quinone||MK7||160 mcg||$.70||added cofactors like zinc for increased functionality|
|LifeExtension Super K||MK4 and MK7||1000 mcg and 200 mcg||$.18||great value|
|InnovixLabs||MK4 and MK7||500 mcg and 100 mcg||$.25||added oils for improved absorption|
|Garden of Life Raw K||MK4 and MK7||100 mcg and 100 mcg||$.29||contains LOTS of extra good stuff|
Whew! We made it!
As is often the case, sharing a brand evaluation like this can create more questions than answers. So, please holler in the comments below if you have any follow-up questions after reading this analysis.
We hope this analysis of vitamin K2 brands helps you along your path to optimal oral health.