Vitamin K2 – History of the missing Vitamin

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.

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.

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