I had the privilege of meeting a number of people that I greatly admire at the recent Wise Traditions International Conference, one of whom wrote perhaps the most intriguing book I read last year- Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, author of Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox.
Vitamin K2 is the wonder nutrient that modern science has only just started to understand. The reason this vitamin is so exciting to those of us who espouse traditional diet is because it was first identified by Dr. Chris Masterjohn as the elusive “Activator X” contained in all the foods considered sacred by Ancestral Societies and researched/written about by Dr. Weston A. Price in his nutritional classic, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
Vitamin K2 along with the other fat soluble activators A and D are synergistically responsible for the vibrant health and extremely high resistance to aging and degenerative disease of Traditional Cultures and described in detail in Dr. Price’s groundbreaking book using both words and pictures.
The problem is that Vitamin K2 is extremely difficult to get sufficient quantities of in the diet. One reason is the worrisome depletion of our soils which grassbased and organic farmers are valiantly turning the tide on, but which will still take several decades if not even a century or two to reverse on a widespread basis. Another is the modern, misguided avoidance of the typically high fat, high cholesterol foods containing this wonder nutrient.
Dr. Kate filled me in on the latest research on Vitamin K2 and the promise it holds for reversing chronic and degenerative disease. Here are the latest studies for consideration. Please note that MK-7 is the bacteria synthesized form of K2 while MK-4 is the form found in animal foods like grassfed butter.
180 mcg MK-7 daily (low dosage) for three years significantly decreases bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women (Osteoporosis International):
- Decreased the age-related decline at the lumbar spine and femoral neck.
- Improved bone strength.
- Decreased the loss in vertebral height in lower thoracic region.
1.5 mg (1,500 mcg) of MK-4 daily for 12 months improved bone metabolism and prevented bone forearm loss in postmenopausal Japanese women (source):
Dr. Kate observed that this second study is important since it shows a benefit of MK-4 in doses much lower than the super high 45,000 mcg usually used in studies.
French research suggests that some types of blue cheese are high in K2 (source).
Unfortunately the researchers didn’t identify the brands of blue cheese studied, but the take-home message is that if you like blue cheese keep eating it and you might be getting bonus K2. Another message here is that there are more K2 rich foods are out there than we know. More research needs to be done to identify them.
While science continues to unravel the magic and mystery surrounding Vitamin K2, a nutrient so important to human health that Traditional Societies revered and considered sacred any foods containing it in plentiful amounts, it seems prudent to make sure that our diets include Vitamin K2 rich foods on a frequent basis.
As Dr. Kate has already noted, more research needs to be done on what foods are high in K2, but based on what we know right now, here are the foods to make sure you are consuming frequently.
- Grassfed Butter: Local, pastured raw butter is best, but Vitamin K2 is not destroyed by heat, so if pasteurized grassfed butter is all you can source, that is fine.
- Grassfed Ghee: If you are allergic to dairy, grassfed ghee is what to use instead of grassfed butter as the allergenic milk proteins have all been removed leaving only the nutrient dense oil.
- Butter Oil: This is a wonderful supplement to take along with fermented cod liver oil or fermented skate liver oil (another source of K2). The two oils work synergistically to even reverse tooth decay as researched and written about by renowned dentist Dr. Weston A. Price.
- Gouda Cheese: Gouda is one of the best aged cheeses to consume if you want lots of K2. Even if the gouda is not grassfed (which is the best way to go if possible), it will still contain plenty of K2 (in the form of MK-7)
- Goose Liver Pate: This is not an easily obtained gourmet food, but if you love pate (who doesn’t? It’s so tasty!), pate from goose liver is going to give you the largest amount of K2.
- Natto: You can usually find natto (make sure it comes from nonGMO soybeans!) at Asian specialty stores in the freezer section for about $3 for a small container. Natto contains a whopping 1,103 mcg of K2 per 3 1/2 ounce portion which blows away every other food by a country mile. If the taste of natto is something you just can’t stomach, try capsules of the MK-7 form of K2 extracted from nonGMO natto. I don’t recommend supplements of the MK-4 form of K2 as they are synthetically derived.
I will have more to say about Vitamin K2 in upcoming posts. In particular, there is a newly discovered food that is mind-blowingly high in MK-4 (the animal form of K2) that I am gathering information on and will be writing about hopefully quite soon.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist