"I was doing some internet research on foods that promote bone growth and came across a food called natto, which is supposed to be a good source of vitamin K2. My doctor had never heard of natto or vitamin K2. Is natto really a superfood for bone health and, if so, what's the best way to serve it?"
What Is Vitamin K?
Although vitamin K was identified in the 1920s, right around the same time as vitamins C and E were discovered, it doesn't have anywhere near the name recognition as other nutrients. It was first identified by German researchers who discovered that it was essential for proper blood-clotting. The "K" stands for "koagulation."
Without this nutrient in your system, you might bleed to death. Later, it was discovered that vitamin K also plays an important role in bone formation (something I talked about in episode #853, Diet for Healthy Bones) as well as heart health.
The Different Forms of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is actually a family of closely related compounds. Vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone, is the form that's found in vegetables, in particular, leafy greens like kale, collards, and spinach. Vitamin K2, also known as menoquinone, is a form produced in animal tissues. In terms of helping to build healthy bones and other health benefits, vitamin K2 is thought to be the more potent form.
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