At Vitafoods, Geneva, we caught up with the team's Vice President of marketing, Dominik Mattern, who explained all about Kappa's journey and where they're going next with their discovery.
Can you tell me a little about the background of Kappa and the female scientist who made the breakthrough?
Inger Reidun Aukrust is a Norwegian scientist who was working for an Oslo-based university in organic chemistry. She noticed a growing need for vitamin K2 and found not by surprise, but by intention a way to produce a molecule called MK-7, which is the basic structure and molecule for vitamin K to be able to produce this on a large scale, without the large cost.
This really was a breakthrough discovery, because it's a very complicated molecular design approach to structure this molecule in the lab. Typically, the historical way to do this is a fermentation-based, very complex, big-scale type of endeavour. Inger found a way to do this in a in a small lab with a bench machine. She was able to produce massive amounts encasing this molecule in a purity that was unmatched.
Was that a task that she was given or a project she started on her own?
It was a request from the industry to try and find a reference standard for analytical purposes. So, if you want to measure MK-7 and vitamin K in food, you need a reference standard. This was the starting point, but she got much further in the lab and started really looking deeper into this and finally found a way to make this molecule.
This was the birth of Kappa bioscience – because of this invention we found a way to produce, very efficiently, large amounts of MK-7, which so far had been a niche industry, a niche business. This really was a momentous time for the industry – suddenly K2 was affordable and available to the public. This was a breakthrough moment for vitamin K2.
So why is this so important and exactly what are you hoping to bring to people?
Firstly, our mission is to, to bring the world the best possible benefits of vitamin K2. We want to offer a product that is delivering on its promises, and by that, I mean it’s pure. It's very important that the molecule can interact with the enzymes in your body to support it, and many companies out there do not fulfil this promise.
We also want to deliver a product which is stable in different formulation environments. Vitamin K is very sensitive to certain ingredient combinations like calcium or magnesium, which is by the way, a great combination for bone. However, K2 does not survive in this environment for pH reasons. Now we have also found a way to stabilise vitamin K2, by way of microencapsulation. We also have a patent on this.
What we bring to market is purity, stability, peace of mind and we really want people to benefit from K2. We must make sure that it's not only a pure product, of course, it also must be stable in its finished formulation, and must not degrade over time.
What’s your vision now, where do you want to go with your breakthrough?
Vitamin K2 is so beneficial in so many new areas that it's just mind blowing. And it's also very much connected to vitamin D, because it's the perfect pair, K2 and D3 because vitamin D produces or synthesises a couple of proteins in the body that need to be activated. And they only activate when you have enough so that's why it's the perfect pairing.
Why do you think vitamin D is still so much more prominent?
Well, firstly, it took quite for vitamin D to gain popularity which only really started in the 80s and COVID really drove its popularity. I think the province starts with some myths about vitamin K to that, even within the healthcare practitioner space, the difference between K1 and K2 is not quite clear.
For metabolic benefit, they are quite different, K1 is more about coagulation in your body, making sure that you have blood clotting that machine is working properly. K1 is mainly synthesised in the liver, but K2 is molecularly, a little bit of a different structure, it is a slightly different molecule and therefore it goes outside the liver, into all the peripheral tissues, the vessels outside of the liver, and these vessels, make sure you don't have harmful calcium clots.
That's why it's so good for MK-7 to make sure the calcium is transported into the bones instead of the arteries. That's why there's a lot of cardio benefits that have been established. Last year, we invested a lot of money (and brain cells!) into immune health research and we found out during COVID, that an intake of K2 is very beneficial. K2 balances out the anti-inflammatory drivers you have when you have Covid. What is interesting is around the lung problems of Covid patients. The elastic fibres in your lungs keep the flexibility for breath. And when you suffer from COVID with the inflammation you have in your body, the elastic fibres in your lungs are being destroyed and they break down. Then calcium is attracted to the lungs and the fibres become calcified, and very stiff.
It certainly sounds promising, what other benefits does K2 have?
Even more exciting is the fact that when you think about ageing, and healthy ageing, every inflammatory process in your body is connected to calcification. That's how the body reacts in inflammation, and low-grade chronic inflammation, which we all experienced because of stress. This causes all of us to age. There’s a direct connection between inflammation and ageing. If you think about the potential of K2 to counteract inflammation and decalcification then you get a sense of what potential, there is out for K2 to as a longevity ingredient.
K2VITAL is the company's product name - it is K2 MK-7 in its purest form with a minimum of 99,7% all-trans content. It's identical to the vitamin K2 found in nature which means it's fully bioactive, so everyone gets the full benefit of this amazing vitamin. Put simply. It's K2 we're proud to put our name on.