The production of menaquinones (vitamin K2) by intestinal bacteria and their role in maintaining coagulation homeostasis

Prog Food Nutr Sci. Oct-Dec 1992;16(4):307-43.


Vitamin K is an essential cofactor necessary for the production of clotting factors II, VII, IX, and X in humans and has recently been found to be an essential factor for many other proteins in the body. There are two sources of this essential vitamin, including vitamin K1, or phylloquinone which is primarily found in green leafy vegetables and vitamin K2 or menaquinone which is synthesized by certain intestinal bacteria. The precise contribution of the bacterially synthesized menaquinone to overall vitamin K requirements in man is unknown. This paper reviews the available literature regarding the production and liberation of menaquinones from bacteria, the animal experiments which have been done to examine the absorption of menaquinones and the indirect and direct evidence in humans regarding utilization of menaquinones. The preponderance of the evidence suggests that bacterially synthesized menaquinones, particularly in the ileum can and do play a significant role in contributing to vitamin K requirements in humans to prevent clinically significant coagulopathy, especially during periods of episodic dietary lack of the vitamin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / chemistry
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Blood Coagulation / physiology*
  • Food Analysis
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Vitamin K / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin K / analysis
  • Vitamin K / biosynthesis*
  • Vitamin K / metabolism
  • Vitamin K 1 / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin K 1 / analysis


  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin K 1