Nowadays, we are bombarded with a seemingly never-ending list of supplements that we are apparently supposed to take. Is it any wonder health anxiety is so rampant at the best of times – and now, it is more widespread than ever? One minute we are told that we are probably low on iron, then it’s B12, every winter there’s a vitamin D scare, and the latest vitamin we have apparently been overlooking since forever? Vitamin K2.
Yes, this one likely hasn’t even been on your radar – at least not until recently. But the latest research on COVID-19 suggests that this may be a key factor determining people’s recovery from the virus. In other words, those with low vitamin K2 levels may suffer a lot more than those who also contract the virus, but who have sufficient levels of this apparently super-star vitamin.
What is Vitamin K2?
Vitamin K was first discovered in 1929 as an essential nutrient for blood clotting. It was identified as a vitamin only abundant in more natural diets. Meaning that those eating more processed foods and less of their greens may not be getting enough. This could lead to increased cases of tooth decay, delayed wound healing, and chronic disease.
Today, we know that vitamin K comes in 2 forms:
- Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone): Found naturally in plant foods such as avocados and leafy greens.
- Vitamin K2 (menaquinone): Found naturally in animal foods and fermented foods.
Like our old friend vitamin D, vitamin K2 ensures that calcium is absorbed easily and reaches the bones, while preventing calcification of the arteries. This helps to keep both your bones and your heart healthy. Ensuring that your calcium supply is directed to the former, and not the latter! K2, specifically, regulates the blood clotting required for healing.
Are you getting enough Vitamin K2?
Chances are, if you are eating your greens like you know you should, you are okay in the Vitamin K1 department. However, unless you are eating certain cheeses (mainly French and Dutch kinds), egg yolks, and liver often – which many modern diets are cutting out due to the cholesterol and saturated fat that these foods also bring – then you may be sorely missing out when it comes to vitamin K2.
Fear not! You can also get this vitamin naturally in the more virtuous (though admittedly, hard to come by) fermented products, as well cheaply and conveniently in capsule form.
What has vitamin K2 got to do with COVID-19?
The latest news that has the spotlight shining on vitamin K2 for perhaps the first significant time since its initial discovery, is a recent study on COVID-19 patients in the Dutch city of Nijmegen. The scientific community is considering further benefits of vitamin K, after discovering a potential link between deficiency and the worst coronavirus outcomes.
But how does vitamin K2 help your body fight off COVID-19? Well, COVID-19 causes blood clotting and damages the elastic fibres in the lungs. Vitamin K2 is key to the production of proteins that regulate this blood clotting, meaning that it can help to protect the lungs from this damage, which is what tends to be the most harmful after-effect from catching COVID-19, leading to the need for ventilators and regrettably, potentially fatal outcomes.
The Dutch researchers are now saying that although this link between vitamin K2 level and lung damage caused by COVID-19 is not yet confirmed, the initial findings alone are reason enough to encourage a healthy intake of vitamin K2 as a precaution.
I mean, you probably could do with some anyway, so what’s to lose?
Vitamin K2: A COVID-19 super-supplement?
Could this mean that protecting yourself from COVID-19 could be as simple as popping a K2 pill?
Well, as mentioned, we have no definitive answers just yet. And remember that even if what this research suggests turns out to be 100% true – it doesn’t mean that vitamin K2 actually prevents you from contracting the COVID-19 virus. Rather, it decreases your risk of further complications if you do get it.
So should you start taking it? If you think it may help to calm your health anxiety, then I say go for it! In any case, it is a vitamin many are lacking without realising, and it could genuinely give your lungs more of a fighting chance during these uncertain times – improving your bone, teeth, and circulatory health as a bonus!
However, I have discussed in the past how we can risk getting a little carried away when it comes to popping the supplements. I’ve been there. I think many of us have been there. But when done responsibly, and in the knowledge that supplements aren’t magic, or a free pass to then not follow a healthy lifestyle or take other necessary health measures and precautions – then they can give us a powerful boost. And right now, this may be more crucial – not to mention reassuring – than ever!
Have you ever considered taking a vitamin K2 supplement before? Would you now, knowing this possible link to fighting COVID-19? Let us know in the comments!