VITAMIN K2 AND FETAL DEVELOPMENT
Vitamin K2 and Fetal Development
Get ready for some science fun! Vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 are different types of vitamin K did you know? On a nutrition label, you will usually find them lumped together as Vit K. Our bodies don't treat them the same, though. Most of us are familiar with Vitamin K1 and its role in activating blood-clotting proteins. K2, on the other hand, has only recently emerged on the research scene in the last 10 years or so. It is primarily used to ensure that calcium is deposited where it should be – such as bone and cartilage, instead of accumulating where it shouldn't – like blood vessels. In pregnancy, it seems pretty obvious that optimal deposition of calcium is important to fetal development – dental arch formation, teeth development, face and jaw formation to name a few.
Vitamin K1 conversion to K2 often not optimal
Now, K1 (rich in green leafy veggies, broccoli, scallions) can be converted to K2 by the bacteria in our gut but that conversion is compromised in those of us who have taken antibiotics or may have less than optimal gut health. Makes sense that pregnant women should know about this right? As always, food is best! Here are the sources of Vit K2 not exactly the top 5 most widely consumed foods these days!
Foods rich in Vitamin K2 (from most to least)
- Natto fermented soy
- Chicken liver
- Gouda and other hard cheeses
- Deep orange egg yolks from pastured chickens
- Butter and fat from grass-fed animals
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut bacterial fermentation promote K2 production
The implications of moving away from traditional diets are far reaching but that is another blog post! Dentists of today will confirm that they commonly treat children with faces too narrow to fit all their teeth, narrow sinus cavities and palates. Appropriate calcification is key to health facial proportions.
Let's get mechanistic here to help the light bulb go off. This is SO important it just can't be ignored and it's so much fun to learn exactly how vitamins implicate our health. Our nasal septal cartilage (the piece of cartilage that separates the two nasal cavities and forms your nostrils), is high in the vitamin K2-dependent MGP (Matrix glutamate-Protein). In a developing fetus, this MGP is necessary to maintain growing cartilage in a normal, non-calcified state. A lack of Vitamin K2 prevents MGP from being activated, resulting in premature calcification of the nasal cartilage – stunting the growth of the face. If these tissues harden too early – the nose and jaw structures do not reach their widest proportions. In the first trimester of pregnancy, a lack of K2 may result in maxillonasal hypoplasia in the newborn, with potential orthodontic visits down the road.
We've recognized this importance and included K2 in our Womb To Grow Prenatal. It's all in the details and we love the details…