Vitamin K₂ (menaquinone) concentrations were measured in a wide range of cheeses and the effects of fat content, ripening and origin of the cheeses were investigated. Moreover, the menaquinone content of cheese was compared with that of other foods known to contain vitamin K₂. It was found that cheese and curd are the most important sources of long-chain menaquinones in the Western diet and, in general, hard cheeses are richer in menaquinones than soft cheeses. However, the actual menaquinone content varies substantially and is dependent on the type of cheese, the time of ripening, the fat content and the geographic area where the cheeses are produced. Given the fact that poor vitamin K status has been mentioned as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and mortality, while there is no clear evidence for adverse cardiovascular effects of dairy fats, cheese should be considered as a recommendable component in a heart-healthy diet.
Keywords: cardiovascular disease; cheese; diet; menaquinone; vitamin K.