The Crazy Cool Enzyme That Allows Our Body to Recycle Vitamin K

Published: August 26, 2015
Updated: November 21, 2018

Lara Cover Photo

Lara Pizzorno is the author of “Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis and Have Strong Bones for Life – Naturally” and a member of the American Medical Writers Association with 29 years of experience specializing in bone health.

Recently we asked Lara if she would help us provide a series of short, ongoing videos to help you (our customers and readers) stay up to date on the latest facts and science related to bone health and overcoming osteoporosis naturally.

In this latest video, Lara discusses how important vitamin K2 is to our health that our body has created a whole regime of ways we can recycle vitamin K2. Watch the video below (or read the transcript provided) and let us know what you think in the comments.

Hello, My name’s Lara Pizzorno. I’m the author of “Your Bones” and I’m here to share some information with you that I hope will help you to have healthier bones. In this series of videos we’ve been talking about Vitamin K2, and of late we’ve been discussing some SNPs or Single Nucleotide Polymorphism in key enzymes related to how your body uses and keeps Vitamin K2 around.

So in this video we’ll talk about the Single Nucleotide Polymorphism or SNP in the gene for Vitamin K Epoxide Reductase, which is the enzyme that recycles vitamin K in our bodies so that we can use it more than once.

Vitamin K is so important to us that our body has created a whole regime of ways in which we can recycle this nutrient so we can keep it around and reuse it more than once before we excrete it.

And the key player in the recycling station for Vitamin K, is Vitamin K Epoxide Reductase. So it may be very important how the version of this enzyme, the VKOR enzyme, that you have inherited has affected your needs for Vitamin K2. So the different SNPs for Vitamin K Epoxide Reductase are going to impact how quickly this enzyme works.

If your VKOR enzyme works very efficiently and quickly, you’re going to be really good at recycling vitamin K. So you can use it over and over before you excrete it. A a result, you’re likely to need less Vitamin K2, and you may be able to use a lower dose of MK7 than the average person. Or you might even be okay using MK4. I’ll tell you how to find out in a minute.

If your VKOR works slowly, you’re not going to be very good at reusing your Vitamin K, and you will definitely need the MK7 form. And you may even need a higher dose than the average person needs. Soon it’s going to be much easier to check your genetic profile to find out which SNPs you have in the VKOR enzyme and another enzyme as well that you have inherited that affect how you use Vitamin K, and what your needs for this nutrient are.

And we’re going to be talking more about all the SNPs that impact bone health, and how you will soon be easily be able to easily determine which ones you have. And so you’ll know exactly what you should be doing.

But for now, there is one blood test that can give you some idea of how well your Vitamin K Epoxide Reductase enzyme is working.

And this is the blood test to check your blood levels of uncarboxylated osteocalcin.

You’ll remember that osteocalcin is the enzyme, the protein. that is activated by Vitamin K2, and it is responsible for pulling calcium into your bones, which is one of the key jobs that Vitamin K2 plays. So if you don’t have enough vitamin K2 around, this enzyme osteocalcin, this protein, is not going to be activated. And so it will be floating around in your bloodstream in the form of uncarboxylated osteocalcin. So if your levels of uncarboxylated or inactive osteocalcin are high, this means that you need more Vitamin K2, because you’re not doing a good enough job activating enough of your Vitamin k dependent proteins.

One possible reason for this is that you have inherited a SNP or a slow Vitamin K Epoxide Reductase enzyme. I provided a link to one of the labs that runs the test for you to check and see what your blood levels of uncarboxylated or unactivated osteocalcin are, along with this video. No genomic tests are as yet available to the public that will tell you whether you have inherited a fast, average, or slow Vitamin K Epoxide Reductase enzyme.

You can have your genetic profile run at 23andMe, but what you will receive is your uninterpreted raw data, because 23andMe is no longer allowed to provide you with an analysis of the raw data that explains the potential impact of the SNPS that you have on your health.

I can tell you that an osteo SNP panel which analyzes the data sent from 23andMe is right now being developed, but it’s not ready just yet.

Hopefully, it will be ready soon, and I’ll certainly let you know when it is.

In the meantime, your best bet here to see how you react to MK7, if you find you have trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep you when you take this form of Vitamin K2, you can try taking less MK7 per day or you can take it every other day or even every other third day, or you can try switching to MK4. If you do try MK4, you will likely need less than the full 45 milligrams of Vitamin MK4, a form of K2, that has been used in the studies to provide benefit.

I would suggest starting out with about 15 milligrams a day of MK4, and after three to four weeks, I would check my bone absorption markers. And the best test for this is the serum or blood test that is done to look at your blood levels of CTX. You can find a full description of this lab in the appendix section in the second addition of “Your Bones.”

In our next video, we’ll talk about gamma glutamyl carboxylase. This is the enzyme that turns on the Vitamin K dependent proteins that regulate where calcium goes in your body. Gamma glutamyl carboxylase is the enzyme that contains Vitamin K and that activates osteocalcin which puts calcium into your bones and makes it Gla-protein which keeps it out of your arteries. Some of us have inherited a SNP or a slow version of this enzyme, gamma glutamyl carboxylase, which greatly can impact our Vitamin K needs. And I’ll tell you all about it in the next video. I hope this one was of interest, and I hope you’ll tune in for the next one. Thanks.



Puehringer H, Loreth RM, Klose G, et al. VKORC1 -1639G>A and CYP2C9*3 are the major genetic predictors of phenprocoumon dose requirement. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2010 Jun;66(6):591-8. doi: 10.1007/s00228-010-0809-2. Epub 2010 Apr 8. PMID: 20376629

Shearer MJ, Fu X, Booth SL. Vitamin K nutrition, metabolism, and requirements: current concepts and future research. Adv Nutr. 2012 Mar 1;3(2):182-95. doi: 10.3945/an.111.001800. PMID: 22516726

One lab that runs unOC test:

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This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,
Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, PhD - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Dr. Carole McArthur
MD, PhD - Professor of Immunology, Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City; Director of Residency Research in Pathology, Truman Medical Center.,