This is page 2 of an 8-page Article. Please begin at Page 1 here, to fully understand how vitamin K2 gives you strong bones & teeth.
Why Vegans Are K2 Deficient
Must you rush out and eat butter, cream, and egg yolks from grass-feeding species, to meet your vitamin K2 needs?
No! Some fermented plant foods have K2. In fact, natto, a slimy stinky fermented soya bean dish, is the highest source of vitamin K2 on earth. It has a whopping 1,103 mcg per 100g. You need about 200 mcg of K2 a day, that’s a mere 18g of natto (about 3/4 ounce).
But how many vegans can stomach natto? As for other fermented foods, like sauerkraut, you don’t know if it has K2. Only some bacteria (not all) make vitamin K2 which they use for anaerobic respiration.
You are eating fermented food, I hope? Health begins in your gut. A healthy gut needs healthy microbes from healthy home-fermented foods. See my sauerkraut recipes here.
Sadly, with the birth of the icehouse in Britain in 1660, and ice trading being a big part of the early New England economy in the 1830’s, we stopped fermenting our veggies so they’d last longer. We simply popped our fresh veg into a cold box.
So down the tubes went the only plant source of Vitamin K2. Vegans suffer the most. I’ve heard Shazzie report that she sees children at vegan festivals with bad teeth, and stature too small for their age.
Believe me, we don’t lack calcium. We already have too much of it in our water in US and Europe. Back in the 1970’s Paul Bragg warned us in his book Water: The Shocking Truth (#ad) that the calcium in water is lining your arteries and veins, just like the hard calcium scale you see in a kettle.
We lack Vitamin K2 to utilize all that calcium!
K2 deficiency can go unnoticed for years. Often the first sign of heart disease is a fatal heart attack. Or with osteoporosis it’s a broken rib when your spouse hugs you.
Does Your Body Make K2?
Our own intestinal flora produce K2. But it may not be a good source. It’s made in the colon, whereas we absorb dietary K2 in our small intestine along with fat.
The K2 in your colon is stuck inside the bacterial membranes. Do we have enzymes to snip it out? And receptors in our colon wall to absorb the freed-up K2? Probably not.
It’s likely we never had the need to develop a way to absorb K2 from our colon. We enjoyed enough K1 from our greens (converting it to K2) — and K2 itself from eggs and animal organs.
Back in May 1994 James Lipsky critically reviewed the belief that intestinal bacteria are a source of vitamin K, and found it to be erroneous.
Do we have any other internal source of K2? Yes. Your body can synthesize K2 from K1, just as you can synthesize vitamin A from the carotenes.
We’ll look at that in depth a little further on, under Leafy Greens.
Vitamins K2, A & D Depend on Each Other
Vitamins A, D, and K2 are on the same team. A and D tell your cells to make a variety of proteins — especially those involved with calcium — and K2 gets those proteins to work, and not lie around idle.
Vitamins A (retinol) and D (cholecalciferol) don’t directly instruct your DNA. They’re vitamins, not hormones. Your body changes them into various metabolites, including retinoic acid and calcitriol. It’s these two that bind to cell receptors and tell your genes what to do.
Take, for example, the protein osteocalcin. It fixes calcium and phosphorus into your bones and teeth. Your bone-building cells (osteoblasts) will make osteocalcin only when both vitamins A and D are present.
Your bones sport a matrix of vitamin-K2 dependent proteins, not just osteocalcin.
All Known-to-date Health Benefits of Vitamin K2
Canadian naturopath Dr. Kate Rhéaume-Bleue is the author of the tell-all book on K2 — Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life (#ad).
In her book, she prints this chart of “What we know about vitamin K2 to date” (June 2013):
|Health condition||Vitamin K2 actions and benefits|
Carboxylates osteocalcin and matrix gla protein (MGP) to prevent major diseases of aging
Deficiency accelerates age-related conditions
High K2 intake lowers risk of coronary artery disease and all-cause mortality
K2 activated–MGP is strongest inhibitor of vascular calcification presently known and prevents atherosclerosis by several mechanisms
Activates osteocalcin, the major bone protein required for calcium deposition in bone
Deficiency increases risk of hip fracture
Counteracts bone density loss at menopause
|Alzheimer’s||Protects against free radical damage and insulin resistance in the brain, two key mechanisms of brain deterioration in Alzheimer’s|
|Wrinkles||Lack of K2 promotes calcification of elastic tissues in skin|
|Vericose veins||K2-activated MGP required to keep vein walls clear of calcium, just as with arteries|
The K2-dependent protein osteocalcin affects insulin production and sensitivity
Supplementation improves insulin response
Higher K2 intake associated with improved insulin sensitivity
|Arthritis||Prevents joint damage in patients with rheumatoid arthritis|
|Brain and neurologic health|
Shields brain cells from damage due to short-term oxygen deprivation, such as in stroke, mini-stroke or birth trauma
Required for production of myelin
Reduces severity of multiple sclerosis symptoms in animal models
Higher intake associated with lower rate of lung and prostate cancer
Prevents prostate cancer progression
Kills lung cancer and leukemia cells in vitro
Encourages differentiation of cancer cells
|Kidney disease||K2 deficiency and associated blood vessel calcification increase progressively with advancing kidney disease|
|Fertility and pregnancy|
K2-dependent osteocalcin affects testosterone production and sperm production and survival
Deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins associated with longer labor and higher rate of C-section
|Prenatal development and children’s health|
Critical for normal development of face and dental arches
Essential for normal tooth structure
Necessary for optimal growth and bone development
K2 requirements increase during growth spurts such as puberty
Activates osteocalcin in tooth dentin to prevent and heal cavities
Decreases cavity-causing bacterial count in saliva
|From Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox (#ad) by Kate Rhéaume-Bleue. Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.|
To explore the K2 connection to any specific disease listed above, you need to read Dr. Kate’s book.
K2 research is so young! Expect this chart to grow in leaps and bounds. With one class of vitamin K-dependent proteins — transmembrane Gla (TMG) proteins — no one knows what they do!
Why does sperm possess a K2-dependent protein? Why does the nucleus of every cell have a receptor for K2? That’s where your genes are. Why is there so much K2 in your mitochondria, the little power plants in every cell that produce energy for you? We don’t know.
Let’s look at just two wonders of K2 (see cites to original studies in Dr. Kate’s book).
K2 Gives You Healthy Dental Arches
Have you noticed how many children need braces these days? In one documentary of a raw vegan family, I was struck by how all the children’s teeth stuck out abnormally. Their dental arches were too cramped to hold a full set of adult teeth.
How often do you see a set of “pearly whites” in a teenager — straight, healthy adult teeth in a normal dental arch?
It’s become so common to wear braces and extract our wisdom teeth. Nobody questions why our jaws are not wide enough to fit all our teeth.
Where does it begin? In pregnancy. The mother was vitamin K2-deficient.
You recall MGP is the K2-dependent protein that keeps calcium out of your soft tissues, like arteries? MGP also maintains growing cartilage in a normal, non-calcified state.
Most bones start out as flexible cartilage. As a child grows from foetus to baby to adult, the cartilage is slowly replaced by bone.
The bones of your dental arch depend on how your nose grows in the womb! In the fetus, the piece of cartilage that separates the two nasal cavities and forms your nostrils, is rich in MGP.
When the MGP is inactive — because there’s no K2 in mom’s diet to activate it — you get premature calcification of this nasal cartilage. This early hardening of the nose and jaw stunts the growth of the face.
This stunted development of the lower third of the face results in narrow dental arches that can’t accommodate a full set of adult teeth.
You don’t see the problem in toddlers. They have only 20 baby teeth. Only when the cuspids (eyeteeth or canine teeth) erupt at age 12 or 13, then you see them out of place.
When there’s no room for the eyeteeth to erupt normally, they will protrude behind or in front of the other teeth, or get pulled out.
Dental arch deformity increases with birth order. I’m the youngest of three children and I have by far the worst crowded teeth.
K2 Protects You from Senile Dementia
Vitamin K2 is essential for your nervous system. Your brain contains high concentrations of K2. Deficiency results in brain-fog and learning difficulties.
Interestingly, only in your brain, K2 protects you from free radicals. Hence its role in preventing multiple sclerosis (lesions in the myelin sheath) and Alzheimer’s. K2 actually helps synthesize the myelin sheath. As for Alzheimer’s, both heart disease and bone loss come along with it.
Vitamin K2 is not an antioxidant anywhere else in your body. That’s the job of the fourth fat-soluble vitamin — vitamin E — to sit inside your cell membranes and protect them from free radicals.
But in your brain, K2 actually prevents free radicals from developing! It doesn’t donate electrons, as vitamin E does. Somehow in lab studies it prevents brain cell death by blocking free radical formation.
K2 also helps brain cells to keep their glutathione, the major free radical scavenger in your brain. Once again there’s a connection here with vitamin D. Its metabolite, calcitriol, increases glutathione levels in the brain.
K2 protects your brain cells by an unknown mechanism that is independent of its known action of gamma-carboxylation. This means Vitamin K2 shields brain cells from free radicals even when you’re taking warfarin (a blood thinner).
Good news for victims of a stroke or recurring mini-strokes (TIA’s)! You can take K2 if your doctor agrees. Patients on anticoagulants like warfarin are normally advised not to take K1 (the coagulant vitamin).
Dr. Kate points out that research on vitamin K2 and brain health is in its infancy. Many of these early studies don’t differentiate between K1 and K2, or stupidly they look only at K1. Yet most (70-93%) of the vitamin K in your brain is K2.
Meanwhile, writes Dr. Kate, “I wouldn’t rely on the questionable conversion of K1 to K2 to meet our brain’s need for menaquinone. … Feed your brain with K2-rich grass-fed foods, fermented dairy products, natto or supplements.”
I would add to that, for my vegan readers, AND fermented plant foods such as kimchi, so long as you use a starter culture of bacteria that’s guaranteed to produce K2. Read the details further on, under Fermented Plants.