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The different forms of Vitamin D and K, which is right for you?

The different forms of Vitamin D and K, which is right for you?

      Vitamin D2 vs. D3       Vitamin K1 vs.K2     Vegan forms of D and K

  Vitamin D2 vs. D3, which is right for me?

Both Vitamin D2 and D3 provide the body with Vitamin D, an essential nutrient for a healthy immune system, teeth, and bones. The sources of these two forms of Vitamin D, however, and the way they are processed in the body can differ. Plants are the primary source of Vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol while animal products are the primary source of D3 or cholecalciferol.

Mushrooms and fortified foods are the most common sources of D2, and oily fish, liver, and egg yolks are rich in D3. Most D3 supplements are made from the lanolin in sheep's wool, which is extracted to form cholesterol and converted to 7-dehydrocholesterol, or pre-vitamin D3. It's then irradiated to create cholecalcaliferol. This process is similar to how human skin produces Vitamin D from sunlight.

The liver processes these two forms of vitamin D differently and D3 may be more effective at raising levels of Vitamin D and sustaining them longer than D2 ( https://doi.org/10.1111/nbu.12293).

Still, with whatever form you choose, consistency is key. It's difficult to obtain enough Vitamin D from sun exposure alone and most of us need to supplement to not be deficient in this essential vitamin.

  Vitamin K1 vs. K2, do I need both?

All forms of Vitamin K share a similar chemical structure, but K1 and K2 are the two forms we consume the most in our diet.

Vitamin K1 or phylloquinone is found in plants, particularly leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens. About 75-90% of the Vitamin K we consume comes from plants.

Vitamin K2 is found mostly in animal products, some fermented foods and is produced by gut bacteria. This form of Vitamin K has many subtypes called menaquinones (MKs) ranging from MK-4 to MK-13.

Vitamin K1 and K2 serve different roles in the body. While K1 is mainly involved in blood coagulation, K2 is essential to transport calcium to bones and teeth and away from soft tissues. K2 can improve bone density and dental health and supports cardiovascular health.

Vitamin K2 may be also be better absorbed by the body than K1 and circulate in the blood much longer. Because of this longer circulation time, Vitamin K2 may be better utilized by more tissues in the body than Vitamin K1, which is used primarily by the liver (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8813897/)

While the body partly converts K1 into K2 you may be more benefitted by eating foods high in K2 or using a supplement.

Foods rich in K2 are dairy products, especially hard cheeses, liver and organ meat, egg yolks, beef, pork, chicken, and certain fermented foods.

  Vitamin D and K for Vegans and Vegetarians

While many Vitamin D and K supplements come from animal sources, there are plenty of plant-based options to choose from too!

Plants are the primary source of Vitamin D2 and can be easy to obtain on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Vitamin D3, which can be more readily absorbed by the body and may stay in the bloodstream longer than Vitamin D2 is found mostly in animal products. While following a plant based diet, this form of Vitamin D may be best obtained through supplementation.

Vitamin D supplements made from Lichen, small aquatic plants similar to algae that have been exposed to UV rays offer a rich source of Vitamin D3 for vegans and vegetarians.

Mushrooms can be a good source of this form of Vitamin D as well.

Plants, particularly leafy greens are also a rich source of Vitamin K1, another good reason to eat your greens!

This form of Vitamin K is essential for blood coagulation, while K2 works in tandem with Vitamin D to deliver calcium to bones and teeth and away from soft tissues. K2 can improve bone density and dental health and supports cardiovascular health too.

Vitamin K2 can be obtained from plant based supplements made from fermented soybeans or chickpeas.

The Japanese dish Natto, made from fermented soybeans offers a potent plant-based dose of D3. Other rich sources of Vitamin K2 for vegans and vegetarians are fermented foods like saurkraut, kimchi, and unpastuerized kombucha.

 


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