Ignore Vitamin K2 at your peril
VITAMIN K2: Ignore at your peril . . .
This month we’ve discussed fat soluble vitamins — D, A, K and E. Put simply, fat soluble vitamins need to be eaten with fat. The ill advised popularization of “low fat diets” over the last 30 years may have caused more harm than benefit. Deficiencies of these important vitamins may be one of the reasons why. The true human cost? Thousands of premature deaths.
Today we’re going to talk about vitamin K, specifically K2. Vitamin K research is decades behind work done on the others, especially vitamins D and E. Also, vitamins E and K interact. Over 1000 IUs of vitamin E interferes with function of vitamin K.
THE TWO K’s
It is commonly thought that vitamin K is involved in clotting and found in leafy green vegetables. That’s K1. Vitamin K2, on the other hand, is found in natto, certain cheeses, egg yolks, a certain type of vitamin rich butter and sauerkraut, of all foods! Natto — extremely high in K2 — is a gooey, pungent type of fermented soybean favored by the Japanese and available in supplement form. K2 helps prevent heart disease, supports bone health and may help prevent dementia.
The way I explain it to my patients, vitamin D helps you absorb calcium while vitamin K2 tells your body where to put it — into the bones where it belongs, not the delicate inner lining of the blood vessels that serve the heart. Calcified arteries lead to heart attacks. So it looks like eggs, cheese and butter may be part of a heart healthy diet, contrary to popular dogma. In fact, it looks like saturated fat never had much to do with causing heart disease after all (see the May 9th Bulletin).
The saturated-fat-causes-heart-disease belief looks more like a loose extrapolation from the fact that saturated fats increase cholesterol levels, instead of firm scientific proof they directly cause heart disease.
HEARTS AND MINDS
In a well publicized study out of Holland — the Rotterdam Heart Study — people eating lots of Edam and Gouda cheese had higher levels of vitamin K2 and less artery calcification. Higher levels of Vitamin K2 are also associated with lower risk of prostate cancer. By keeping calcium out of the brain, K2 may also help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. There is a clear pattern: too much calcium in the wrong places cause trouble. Calcium in the right place (ie bone) is a good thing. Vitamin K2 appears to make sure calcium goes into the right places in the right amounts.
Although bacteria in the human gut can make vitamin K2, many people’s guts have been so trashed by multiple doses of antibiotics, bad food and physical and emotional stress, the conversion becomes difficult. On the other hand, probiotics help re-establish healthy gut bacteria so may support the gut’s synthesis of K2. 10-15% of K1 from leafy green vegetables is converted into K2, but it appears humans can absorb no more than 200 mcg of K1 form all sources in a day, so we can’t count on meeting all our K2 needs from fresh green veggies. Also, K1 itself is better absorbed when eaten along with dietary fat. That basically leaves fermented foods (natto and sauerkraut) and pasture fed animal food sources (cheese, egg yolks, butter and liver) as sources of K2.
Plenty of leafy green veggies eaten with olive oil or butter, a few ounces of cheese most days, lacto-fermented saurekraut as a condiment, a few eggs a week and you’re probably getting enough K2 — the roughly 37 micrograms a day suggested by the Rotterdam Heart Study. Want a food based K2 insurance policy? Add a couple of capsules of Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil with Butter Oil. It’s the butter oil that has the K2, butter from cows fed on grass grown on deep, dark midwestern Prairie top soil. Or you can take the Butter Oil on its own. You can also add some real live natto, but chances are slim your palate will put up with it. Or you can take a supplement — natto or just K2 — but why not get what you need from food, with its multitude of accompanying synergistic co-nutrients? Whatever the case, be sure to get your K2.
I have no financial connection to any of the abovementioned companies.