Vitamin K - Our Hero
In April 2011 a study published in the highly respected British Medical Journal shocked the world. Calcium supplementation raised the risk of heart disease!
Too bad it wasn’t new news.
A study started in 1994 (24,000 people) had discovered the same thing; but the medical community wasn’t ready to change their ideas on calcium supplementation and cried for more research before letting too many of us know about it. Another study in 2010 said the same thing. Last year’s study confirmed it all: in every 1000 people taking a calcium supplement there will be 3, only 3, fewer bone fractures. However, there will be 6 more fatalities from heart disease! That’s not a trade I’ve ever been willing to risk, so I’ve never taken a calcium supplement.
There’s no room here for all the science on vitamin K in its many forms but the unscientific version goes sort of like this: yes, we need calcium to build strong bones and slow down age-related bone loss. We know too that vitamin D plays its own critically important part in bone health; as does zinc, boron, magnesium and other nutrients. And now, we know that fat soluble vitamin K2 is like the traffic cop that tells all that great nutrition where to go. Vitamin K2 is the hero that stops calcium supplements from building up in our arteries (atherosclerosis) and sends it packing into our bones where it belongs - and where we’d been hoping it was heading for all these years.
Vitamin K1 is pretty easy to get in healthy food (think green: kale, spinach, collards, etc), but our bodies can’t do much with K1. In our gut, beneficial bacteria convert some of the K1 into K2 (if we have enough beneficial bacteria left after living a typical North American lifestyle). We can get K2 directly from some foods but the bad news is, we’re told to not eat (or can’t find) the very foods that contain K2.
When was the last time you were told to run home and eat more egg yolks and butter and enjoy the fat on your steak? Remember the “French Paradox” (and Italian Paradox and Greek Paradox and… all the other places living on high saturated fats that have such low rates of heart disease)? Not so much of a paradox after all. All that fat is the very food carrying the vit K2 that protects our hearts. Go figure.
More on the ‘bad news’ part - according to people who test such things, the content of K2 is pretty low in grain-fed animal products. Animals make a lot more of the beneficial K2 vitamins than we can, but, they need the same greens as we do to manage that. In North America it’s hard to find meat, cheeses, eggs, and butter from animals that are raised on pasture. The stuff we’re buying in the grocery stores certainly doesn’t qualify.
The highest concentration of beneficial Ks comes from natto (a fermented soybean food) and it weighs in at over 1000 micrograms per serving compared to 8 micrograms per serving of hamburger. Unpasteurized fermented veggies are a great source too, as is some spirulina.
So, eat your greens, take a high quality (refrigerated) probiotic, buy organic, grass-fed meats and dairy, and learn to like natto. Or, add what K2 you need in the form of a high quality supplement.
I bought my first calcium supplement yesterday, combined with K2. :D
Mona Sims CNPA