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Nomenclature and classification

Vitamin K is a group name for a family of closely related compounds which share the function of coenzyme in the posttranslational carboxylation of protein-bound glutamate residues into gammacarboxy glutamate (Gla).

The characteristics are as follows:

  • Common structure: 2-methyl naphthoquinone

  • Variable group: poly-isoprene side chain at 3-position

  • Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone): one single compound, one unsaturated aliphatic bond

  • Vitamin K2 (menaquinone, MK-n): group of related compounds

  • MK-n: n stands for number of unsaturated isoprenoids in the side chain

  • Short chain menaquinones: MK-4 through MK-6

  • Long chain menaquinones: MK-7 through MK-10


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