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The History of K2

Vitamin K2- History of the missing Vitamin

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The History of K2 - Basic Principals

See what CEO Egil Greve from Kappa Bioscience has to say about K2

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The history of vitamin K2 spans centuries and continents, back to feudal Japan where Samurai warriors consumed a fermented soybean dish called natto.

Historical diets probably provided enough K2. Changes in food preparation and storage due to industrialization have likely diminished the amount of vitamin K2 available in our diets. Vitamin K2 went unnoticed until its absence began to be recognized.


Vitamin K family discovered. In 1935 Danish scientist Henrik Dam described a fat-soluble factor that reduced bleeding in chicks fed an extremely low-fat diet. He named this factor vitamin K after the German and Danish word for coagulation (koagulation).
A few years later, American biochemist Edward Adelbert Doisy determined the chemical structure of vitamin K and succeeded in synthesizing it.


For their pioneering work, Dam and Doisy shared the 1943 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Dam and Doisy discovered vitamin K1 (phylloquinone). Years later vitamin K2 (menaquinone) was recognized. Vitamin K2 is comprised of a group of several different molecules forms, with side chains of 4 to 14 isoprenoid units. These mostly unsaturated molecules were first identified in the 1950s. Around this time W. Price discovered ‘Activator X’ (K2) as missing ingredient for tooth and bone health.


Recognition of vitamin K2 as a group of molecules with differing contribution to health.


Vitamin K2 as MK-4 approved as a drug in Japan.


Vermeer started scientific work on enzymes and coagulation.


Rediscovery of vitamin K2. Despite this early progress, vitamin K2 was largely overlooked for a number of years before being rediscovered. This new awakening also had roots in Japan, with investigations as early as 1990 by Motohara et al. studying the transfer of vitamin K2 between mothers and newborns.


Studies initiated investigat ing K2 and bone health and K2 biomarkers. In the 2000s several Japanese studies investigating the link between K2 and bone health were published. Research by Katsuyama et al. in 2001 and 2002 investigated the effect of natto intake on bone stiffness and hip fracture. A wide range of studies were conducted on K2 biomarkers from 1999, demonstrating the role of vitamin K2 in activating K-dependent proteins.


Demonstration of K2’s effects on cardiovascular health. Studies in 2015 by Knapen et al. and Kurnatowska et al. demonstrated reductions in arterial stiffness and the slowing of arterial calcification – reducing cardio - vascular risk.


The bioequivalence of synthesized and fermented was proven. Møller et al. demonstrated in 2016 that synthesized vitamin K2 K2VITAL® and fermented K2 are biologically equivalent, including mechanisms of action and biological outcomes.

  • Science Papers
  • Basic Principals

K2 Introduction

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The History of K2

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The Different Vitamins in the K Family

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All-trans Means All-bioactive

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K2 Deficiency

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