Shockingly 80% of Americans are Vitamin K2 Deficient!
Anyone with a vitamin K2 deficiency is extremely vulnerable to serious and even life threatening health problems including: brain disease, heart disease, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis, heel spurs, kidney stones and heart attack.
Unfortunately, most people are not aware of the essential and outstanding, health benefits of vitamin K2. Sadly, the K vitamins have been underrated and misunderstood until very recently in the scientific community.
What Are Vitamins?
Vitamins are a group of substances that are essential for normal cell function, growth, and development.
There are 13 essential vitamins, meaning they are needed for the body to function. They are:
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin D
• Vitamin E
• Vitamin K
• Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
• Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
• Vitamin B3 (niacin)
• Pantothenic acid
• Vitamin B6
• Vitamin B12
• Folate (folic acid)
Vitamins are grouped into two categories:
• Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s fatty tissue. The four fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K.
• There are nine water-soluble vitamins. The body must use water-soluble vitamins right away. Any left over water-soluble vitamins leave the body through the urine. Vitamin B12 is the only water-soluble vitamin that can be stored in the liver for many years. Source: NY Times Health Guide
Vitamin K History
Vitamin K was initially discovered in Germany in 1929 where the findings were published in a German scientific journal. Vitamin K was characterized simply as an essential nutrient for proper blood coagulation (blood clotting). The Germans named it Koagulationsvitamin; that’s where the “K” comes from.
However, the health benefits of vitamin K2 go far beyond mere blood clotting, which is primarily the domain of vitamin K1. Moreover, vitamin K2 works in synergy with other nutrients or co-factors like calcium, magnesium and vitamin D and A. Vitamin K2’s most pressing purpose is to escort calcium into the appropriate areas of the body where it’s needed and can be properly utilized. For example, it moves calcium into the bones and teeth and ushers it away from the arteries and other soft tissues where it can be harmful – even deadly.
The unique yet collaborating functions of K1 and K2
Overall the general function of Vitamin K centers on its ability to modify proteins, so they can bind with calcium. Specifically, it “activates” or turns on the calcium-binding properties of proteins.
While, it’s true that vitamin K1 is primarily used by the liver so it can activate calcium-binding proteins necessary for blood clotting K2 also activates proteins, but mostly for an entirely different purpose. K2 is the principal regulator of calcium and ultimately determines where calcium winds up in the body.
Dr. Leon Schurgers, a senior scientist who did his PhD work on vitamin K explains the details behind the overlapping coagulation functions of K1 and K2 :“Both vitamins K1 and K2 activate certain coagulation factors. Specifically, there are four coagulation factors (Factor 2, 7, 9, and 10) in the coagulation cascade that are activated by vitamins K1 and K2.”
The Three Types of Vitamin K
1. Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, is abundant especially in green vegetables; K1 travels straight to your liver and supports healthy blood clotting.
2. Vitamin K2, also called menaquinone, is ideally made by the bacteria that line your gastrointestinal tract; K2 goes directly to your blood vessel walls, bones, and tissues but bypasses the liver.
3. Vitamin K3, or menadione, is a synthetic form of K2 and is not recommend as it can be toxic. In fact, infants injected with this synthetic version of vitamin K2 have exhibited toxicity symptoms.
Additionally, vitamin K2 has two subcategories:
1. MK-4 (menaquinone-4) is a short-chain form of vitamin K2 found in butter, egg yolks, and other animal-based foods.
2. MK-7 (menaquinone-7) is a longer-chain variety of vitamin K2 and the most common form. It’s a natural bacterial derived K2 found in certain fermented foods.
3. The MK-7 type K2 is a bacteria driven derived from a fermentation process, which offers numerous health advantages:
a. It stays in your body longer than the MK4 variety of K2
b. It has a longer half-life than MK4, which requires one to take it only once a day, yet receive all its benefits throughout the day.
Foods Rich In K2
To fully benefit from animal sources of MK4, they should be grass-fed and organic. Dairy products should be full fat and derived from grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free cows. Liver and other organ meats also need to be organic and grass fed. Egg yolks should come from pastured chickens. Vitamin K is fat-soluble so low-fat and lean animal products contain very little K2 (MK4).
Bottom Line:The K2 content of pasteurized dairy and other products from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are NOT a good source of K2 and should be avoided.
NOTE: Cheeses are an exception to the grass fed rule when it comes to K2. Although if possible, cheese from grass fed cows is the best option for overall nutrition. But high levels of K2 found in a few select cheeses are bacteria driven. The type of bacteria used in making the cheese is the key to their K2 content. For example, Gouda and Brie are known to be high in K2, even if they don’t come from grass fed cows.
Bottom Line: vitamin K comes from two sources: K1 is derived from plant sources and K2 is found in animal sources. The highest levels of vitamin K2 are found in a select group of fermented foods.
The following table contains estimates of the K2 content of various foods.
Natto (3.5 ounces) 1,000 mcg
Fermented vegetables made with Kinetic Culture (2 ounces) 400-500 mcg
Whole egg mayonnaise 197 mcg
Gouda or Brie cheese (1 ounce)
Miso 10-30 mcg
Lamb or duck (1 cup) 6 mcg
Beef liver (1 cup) 5 mcg
Dark meat turkey (1 cup) 5 mcg
Chicken liver (1 cup) 3 mcg
DIY Vitamin K2 Rich Fermented Vegetables
Key Vitamin K Points
The main function of Vitamin K is to activate the calcium-binding properties of proteins. K1 is mostly involved in blood clotting, while K2 helps regulate where calcium finally ends up in the body.
A high intake of vitamin K2 is strongly correlated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
K2 is essential for maintaining strong bones, teeth, and healthy arteries free of calcification.
If you take an oral vitamin D supplement, it’s essential that you also consume foods that contain sufficient amounts of vitamin K2. Or less preferably, you can take a vitamin K2 supplement. Otherwise, you could inadvertently harm your health.
The reason you need vitamin K2 is because when you take a vitamin D supplement, your body automatically creates more vitamin K2-dependent proteins—the proteins that help move the calcium around in your body. You need vitamin K2 to activate those proteins. If they’re not activated, the calcium in your body will not be properly distributed to where it’s needed and wind up where it will do harm, leading to weaker bones and hardened arteries. Also, vitamin D and K2 work together as partners to strengthen your bones and improve your heart health.
Some Important Health Benefits of Vitamin K2
1) Heart Disease
America’s Heart Disease Burden
• About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.1
• Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.1
• Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually.1
• Every year about 720,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 515,000 are a first heart attack and 205,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.2
• Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year.3 This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.
A major risk factor for heart disease is the deposition and accretion of calcium around the heart and arteries.
Vitamin K2 prevents calcium from being deposited in the arteries.
In 2004 The Rotterdam Study an ongoing epidemiological study found that high dietary intake of vitamin K2 – but not vitamin K1 –is a safeguard against cardiovascular disease.
According to PubMed another epidemiological study consisting of 16,057 women found that those with the highest intake of vitamin K2 had a significantly lower risk of heart disease. Every 10 micrograms of K2 consumed per day, reduced the risk of heart disease by 9%.
K2 also appears to play a role in maintaining optimal vascular flow to the brain. It has been observed via autopsy that many of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s suffered from vascular degeneration. The current literature although limited suggests that vitamin K2 could play a significant role in preventing Alzheimer’s by inhibiting plaque deposition in the brain.
YouTube: Vitamin K has been ignored. In the brain it is critically involved with a variety of important brain lipids and proteins. Experimental rats, without K2 can’t navigate mazes. Aging humans with cognitive decline have much lower K2 in their blood. If you want to prevent cognitive decline, taking K2 might be a good idea. It’s going to take 20-30 years before we ever get to proof. You may not want to wait that long.
3) Bone Health and Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis means “porous” bones, and it’s an all too common problem suffered mostly by women in Western countries. We know Vitamin K2 plays a crucial role in calcium metabolism and calcium is one of the primary minerals found in bones. Vitamin K2 activates proteins involved in calcium-binding called Matrix gla protein and osteocalcin, which assist in building and maintaining bones.
K2 Studies and Osteoporosis
Long term studies with Japanese women showed significant improvement in bone health when high doses of vitamin K2 were administered. In fact, out of 13 distinct trials only one failed to show improvement.
Seven of these Japanese trials found vitamin K2 reduced spinal fractures by 77% and all other types of fractures by an impressive 81%.
Based on this research, Japanese doctors routinely recommend vitamin K2 supplementation for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.
Another study, a 3-year trial with 244 postmenopausal women showed that woman who were taking K2 supplements had significantly slower age related bone mineral density loss compared to those who didn’t supplement with K2.
4) K2 and Cancer
One epidemiological study consisting of 11,000 men found that a high vitamin K2 intake was positively correlated with a 63% lower risk of advanced prostate cancer.
Japanese researchers have suggested that vitamin K2 is involved in preventing a type of liver cancer caused by viral cirrhosis.
According to Jeffery Dach MD: “A number of cell culture and animal xenograft studies shows that vitamin K2 induces “Apoptosis” (programmed cell death) in cancer cells.(12-21) There were a number of different cancers studied including Glioblastoma, Hepatocellular Cancer, Lung Cancer, Prostate Cancer, etc.(12-21).”
Based on these findings, Dr. Dach recommends Vitamin K2 as a cancer preventative or to prevent a relapse after cancer treatment.
Dental Health and Vitamin K2
Scientific studies way back in 1945 discovered that vitamin K2 was effective at preventing dental cavities. The American researchers used a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with a chewing gum that had a vitamin K2 precursor (menadione) added to it.
Results: Those using the special K2 gum not only had a reduction in new cavities, there was also a significant reduction in bad bacteria in the mouth,the kind of bacteria which causes cavities.
Conclusion: We know without doubt that vitamin K2 is necessary for maintaining skeletal health and teeth are part of the skeletal system. It follows that the condition of your teeth is a reliable reflection of your overall skeletal system.
According to Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, naturopathic doctor and author of the book: Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life:
“… for so long, we’ve been told to take calcium for osteoporosis…. and vitamin D, which we know is helpful. But then, more studies coming out showing that increased calcium intake is causing more heart attacks and strokes. That created a lot of confusion around whether calcium is safe or not. But that’s the wrong question to be asking because we’ll never properly understand the health benefits of calcium or vitamin D, unless we take into consideration K2. That’s what keeps the calcium in its right place.”
Take Home Message
It’s imperative to maintain a synergistic balance between vitamin K2, vitamin D, and Magnesium. Vitamin K2 and magnesium work together like vitamin D and K2. Otherwise, your health could be in jeopardy.
Paul Fassa is a contributing staff writer for REALfarmacy.com. His pet peeves are the Medical Mafia’s control over health and the food industry and government regulatory agencies’ corruption. Paul’s valiant contributions to the health movement and global paradigm shift are world renowned. Visit his blog by following this link and follow him on Twitter here.