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Menaquinone, also known as vitamin K2, is an essential vitamin found mainly in organ meats. Menaquinone is believed to have a number of important functions in the body. It's considered essential for proper blood clotting and it helps bind calcium to the bones to strengthen them. Research suggests that menaquinone may even help to prevent prostate cancer.
Vitamin K2 is actually a group of K vitamins generally found in animal food sources. Plants can contain K vitamins as well, but these usually belong to the vitamin K1 group. These two distinct vitamin groups typically fill separate roles in the body.
One of menaquinone's most well-known benefits may be its role in helping blood to clot correctly. Vitamin K2 can help blood clot because it can bind with osteocalcin, a protein often found in bones. This protein helps bind blood calcium to the skeletal bones, strengthening them. The joining of menaquinone with osteocalcin is also considered a crucial part of the coagulation process. Without this molecular reaction, bleeding problems can ensue.
In addition to ensuring bone health and proper blood coagulation, vitamin K2 can benefit cognitive function and skin health. It can help prevent cardiovascular disease, by helping to remove calcification deposits from the artery walls. Research suggests that vitamin K2 may be of benefit in the treatment of age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease. Some studies suggest that increased vitamin K2 intake may be able to lower a man's risk of prostate cancer by as much as 35%.
While physicians once believed that vitamin K2 compounds weren't an essential part of a healthy diet, newer evidence is beginning to change that thinking. The human body is normally capable of synthesizing its own vitamin K2. Studies seem to reveal, however, that only dietary menaquinones can reduce the risk of cancer and support bone, skin, brain, and cardiovascular health.
Dietary sources of menaquinone include organ meats, such as kidney or liver. Eggs, cheese, and butter are also rich in these vitamin compounds. While muscle meats often don't contain as much vitamin K2 as organ meats, ground beef, poultry, and meats such as salami are considered relatively high in menaquinones. Foods that undergo fermentation during the preparation process, such as sauerkraut or natto, often contain the highest levels of vitamin K2. Natto itself may be one of the richest sources of dietary vitamin K2.