“Many molecules have cis- and trans-isomers; our bodies sometimes will only recognize one of those as being biologically available,” Dan Murray, Xsto’s vice president of business development, told NutraIngredients-USA. In the case of menaquinone-7 form of vitamin K2, it’s the trans-isomer form that is active.
“This test measures the cis- and trans-isomers of the menaquinone molecule. The more trans, the better. We’re kind of excited by this test because we believe it will separate the better quality vitamin K sources from the lesser quality sources,” Murray said.
A recent run of the test yielded interesting results, Murray said. The K2 ingredient that Xsto markets from Kappa under the K2Vital brand name came in at 98% trans-isomer. Three other ingredients, labeled Asian source 1, European source and Asian source 2 came in at 61%, 34% and 20% respectively.
Making up the difference with more volume
Low quality sources are also inexpensive, Murray acknowledged. Going with a cheap raw material might meet the letter of the law, but wouldn’t match the backing science if that material is laden with an inactive isomer.
“You might find a really low price and it might meet your your label claims, but you won’t be doing you customers any favors,” he said.
Using a lower quality K2 ingredient wouldn’t necessarily be a deal breaker for a conscientious formulator, Murray said. A formulator could make up the difference by using more of the lower-quality source. The problem, as Murray sees it, is that it’s not immediately clear what is in the leftover portion of the ingredient.
“Theoretically using more of a lower quality source would deliver the micrograms of trans K you are trying to get. The question I would have is what about that other stuff? Are those impurities or just other inactive compounds?” he said.
Having the test available means that formulator would know what they’re paying for.
“That’s a fairly common thing, that we don’t utilize everything that passes our mouth or enters our bloodstream. At the same time, when you’re paying for something, you want to get the maximum bioavailability,” Murray said.
Murray said Xsto and Kappa Bioscience have been using the test for several years to analyze their own product. They have now shared the test with Chromadex, which is in the process of validating it.
“We’re trying to get them set up as a third party—kind of a referee if you will,” Murray said.
As Murray sees it, it’s all part of the maturation of the vitamin K market, with more information available both about sources and about efficacy.
“We’re moving along in the evolutionary process that is helping us further qualify different sources. The science that has been done (on vitamin K2) is good science and it’s relevant. But it certainly doesn’t mean that everyone’s vitamin K is equal,” he said.