NattoPharma debuts 'full-spectrum' form of vitamin K2 to mimic what's found in cheese

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

NattoPharma debuts 'full-spectrum' form of vitamin K2 to mimic what's found in cheese

Related tags Vitamin k2 Epidemiology

Norwegian company NattoPharma will debut a form of Vitamin K2 that includes more of the menaquinone forms found in natural fermented cheese.

The new ingredient, called MenaQ7 Full Spectrum K2, provides menaquinones (MK) 6, 7, 8 and 9, a range of isomers vital for cardiovascular health. The company’s base ingredient, MK 7, was first isolated from natto, a form of fermented soybeans consumed in Japan.

Eric Anderson, senior vice president of global sales, said epidemiological evidence had shown that Japanese subjects who consumed large amounts of fermented foods, especially natto, had both strong bones and few heart attacks. He said more evidence for the action of vitamin K2 has come from the ongoing the Rotterdam Study, a long term, large scale cohort study in the Netherlands that looked at factors of cardiovascular, neurological and other disease factors in aging populations. Anderson said the evidence supports the notion that Vitamin K2, which activates osteocalcin, a bone production protein, can help mediate the movement of calcium in and out of the bones. Calcium is a component of arterial plaques, and having excess calcium circulating in the blood has been thought of as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, he said.

More cheese equated to less CVD risk

“The people who consumed the most cheese, the highest tertile of that group, had 50% less calcium in their arteries and had 50% reduced risk from cardiovascular disease,”​ he said.

Anderson said that NattoPharma had started several years ago to find a way to provide more of the menaquinones that are found in various cheeses. Anderson said that required a new fermentation process beyond the one the company was using to produce its base ingredient branded as MenaQ7. 

“NattoPharma has driven the creation of the Vitamin K2 market, sponsoring the important research validating the importance of K2 for human health, and this work has shaped the MenaQ7 brand,”​ said  NattoPharma chief medical officer Dr Hogne Vik. “The important epidemiological studies that led us to our ground-breaking human clinical research used fermented cheese as the source of Vitamin K2, which led us to create MenaQ7 Full Spectrum.”

“We think that this ingredient will be of great interest to consumers who want their supplements to be as close to nature as possible,”​ Anderson said. “We also think it is potentially more efficacious, but more work needs to be done in that area.”

Anderson said the fermented cheese angle puts a new spin on one of the older stories in the natural products business:  The French Paradox. Epidemiological researchers started to wonder in the 1980s why the French have such low rates of heart disease while at the same time consuming what at the time was thought of as a diet with overly high levels of fat featuring copious amounts of olive oil and cheese.  This was at first attributed to the cardioprotective compounds in red wine, a standard beverage in France at the time.

“Now you could say it was the cheese that was causing these effects,”​ Anderson said.

 ​The company will debut the ingredient at the upcoming Supply Side West trade show in Las Vegas at booth P115.

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