Vitamins play an important role in every function of our body and our overall health. We want to focus on getting the nutrients we need by including a wide range of foods in our diet. Using supplements can help fill in the gaps, ensure we get enough of each vitamin to promote healthy bodies, and boost our levels when we need extra support.
Fat-soluble vs. water-soluble vitamins
The way the body stores and processes vitamins can be broken down into two main groups.
Water-soluble vitamins are dissolved in water. They are absorbed more quickly than fat-soluble vitamins, and any extra of the vitamin taken in will leave the body through your urine. Water soluble vitamins include most vitamins, including your B and C.
Fat-soluble vitamins are dissolved in fat. They are absorbed by the fat in your body and stored there and in your liver. They get carried through the body by the bloodstream to where they are needed. Four fat-soluble vitamins are Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K. Because they are stored, they can build up since they do not leave the body quickly like water-soluble vitamins.
The magic duo of D3 and K2
Both vitamins D and K have their benefits, but if they are not taken together, you may not get the benefits you seek. Vitamin D3 and K2 work together for healthy bones, cardiovascular health, and robust immune system function. The fact is, they work better together than taken separately. (5) Without vitamin K2, vitamin D3 may not be able to be used in the body, which can lead to other health concerns. Using a supplement that has both vitamin D3 plus vitamin K2 eliminates the worry.
Vitamin D3 helps the body absorb calcium and directs it from your intestines to your blood, and Vitamin K2 directs that calcium into your bones. Without enough vitamin K2, calcium can build in the arteries and not get to your bones where you want it. (2)
Vitamin D3 with K2 for infants and children
A study of 107 healthy caucasian women in a nine-month follow-up study found that their exclusively breastfed infants received <20% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin D during the first year of life. (3)
The body absorbs about 10%-15% of calcium through the diet. With sufficient vitamin D status, this increases to 30%-40%. (4) If a woman doesn't have sufficient vitamin D levels, this can also affect her baby's vitamin D status.
In one study, as much as 50% of infants younger than five days old were shown to be deficient in vitamin K.(6)
Breastmilk does contain Vitamin D, but it may not be enough to raise a baby's levels. Often, Vitamin D levels in babies are low because of the mother's insufficient vitamin D status. If a mom chooses not to give her baby a vitamin D3 supplement, she can take 6400 IU/day, which has been shown to be sufficient to raise her baby's levels. (7) Otherwise, it is recommended to supplement the baby directly with 400 IU/day of vitamin D3.(8)
Although infant formula is fortified with vitamin D, your baby may not get the Recommended Daily Allowance, especially in the first few weeks of life. Once the baby takes 32 ounces of formula daily, they should be given a Vitamin D3 supplement. Babies fed breastmilk and formula, known as combo feeding, are also best protected by taking a vitamin D3 with a K2 supplement.
Benefits of vitamin D3
Healthy bones and skeletal development
Development of healthy teeth
Healthy cardiovascular system
Maintain bone density
It helps maintain the body's proper phosphorus and magnesium levels
Reduces the risk of high blood pressure
Reduces the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes
Forms of vitamin D
D2 - Has a shorter half-life compared to vitamin D3. It doesn't raise the levels of the active form of vitamin D in our body. Plants make vitamin D2. In supplements, it is often sourced from yeast exposed to UV light. It is cheaper to produce than vitamin D3.
D3 - We absorb vitamin D3 directly from sun exposure through our skin and foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, beef liver, and microalgae. (9) In one study, infants were given either a supplement of vitamin D2 or D3 for three months. The group with vitamin D2 had an increase of 4ng compared to infants given vitamin D3, who had an increase of 9ng. This means that 75% of the infant in the D2 group had sufficient levels after supplementation compared to 96% of infants in the vitamin D3 group. (10)
Benefits of vitamin K2
It helps blood clot, preventing newborn hemorrhaging
Healthy teeth formation
Aids brain development and a healthy nervous system
Promotes healthy weight
Reduces respiratory tract infections when it is taken with vitamin D3
Forms of vitamin K
K1 - Shorter half-life, so levels fluctuate more in the body. Not the preferred form for supplementation.
K2 - To add to the complexity of choices, K2 may be in the form of MK-4 or MK-7. Vitamin K2 as MK-7, compared to K1, has a longer half-life and has been shown to raise Vitamin K serum levels in the body. (1)
Taking a vitamin D3 + K2 from MK-7 supplement regularly will keep your vitamin K levels stable for longer. MK-4 is not as well absorbed or bioavailable to the body as MK-7. In studies, MK-4 seemed less predictable than MK-7. It didn't raise everyone's vitamin K levels at the same time, even when it was being taken regularly.
Few vitamins work together like vitamin D3, and K2 do, yet finding a high-quality vitamin supplement that contains both is challenging. When taken together, you can be confident that your body will be able to utilize calcium correctly, leading to strong bones, teeth, and a healthy cardiovascular system.
Babies grow at a fast pace, and it is important they have enough vitamin D3 and K2 starting right after birth to support their rapidly developing body, skeletal system, healthy gums and teeth, and strong immune system. It is always recommended to check with your doctor or care provider before beginning a new supplement.