Who would think that a vitamin could have such a history of praise and denial, confusion and celebration? Vitamin K2 will hopefully find its right place in history once more people get a chance to read Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life by Kate Rheaume-Bleue, BSc, ND.
Dr. Kate (wouldn’t it be great if all doctors started going by their first name? How would it change things in the exam room?) has become both a great historian and an expert on a topic that’s been brewing (an appropriate term, in this story) in the integrative, nutrient density world for the last few years. While the rest of the world is just catching up to the importance of vitamin D levels, and supplementing wildly in a frantic game of catch-up, Dr. Kate (and others, including Chris Masterjohn) have wisely cautioned, “Wait a minute on the D, there’s a bigger picture to consider!”
Remember hearing about the French paradox? How is it that French people have eaten so much more saturated fat than we have, yet have less heart disease? Medical scientists, unaccustomed to looking at the big picture, have tried to identify a single nutrient (such as the resveratrol in red wine) that might make sense of the mystery. Turns out that macronutrients and perhaps vitamin K2 might explain the mystery, keep reading.
The Calcium paradox refers to the mixed results obtained from vitamin D and calcium supplementation. Starting about 20 years ago, in an effort to reverse or treat osteoporosis, some physicians (mea culpa!) started boosting first calcium supplementation, then a few years later, adding high dose vitamin D3, understanding just a part of the mechanics of bone strengthening. In both clinical experience and research trials, we learned the hard way: high dose D and calcium definitely strengthen bones, but at the expense of increased cardiovascular disease (see Calcium and Death).
The answer is to be found in the recognition of the role of vitamin K2 in all things related to calcium, cardiovascular risk and bone metabolism. I wrote about the resolution of the paradox in this post, but thanks to Dr. Kate’s book, we can add more wonderful benefits from taking vitamin K2. Turns out it is a general anti-aging boost, reducing the incidence of Alzheimer’s, dental bone loss, and – I love this: wrinkles! Other health benefits include help with issues of diabetes, arthritis, cancer and kidney disease, fertility and birthing healthy children, and for brain and neurological health. Which item on this list would one not want help with?
Now that you’re convinced of its importance, where can you get some vitamin K2 for yourself? There are excellent food sources of vitamin K2, including egg yolks from pasture-raised hens, ghee, butter, cheese! and cream from grass-fed cows, and fermented foods (hence the “brewing” remark above), particularly soy in the form of nattokinase, an acquired taste to say the least. Another option is the capsule version of MK-7, the long acting form of vitamin K2. ProThera makes a great capsule, 2 a day provide enough K2 to restore levels to normal for most people.)
Take good care of yourself, economize where you must, but find yourself a good source of eggs and butter from chickens and cows doing what they know how to do best: roaming the world they belong in and producing great K2-rich food for all of us!