Vitamin D – Essential for Complete Wellness


For over 15 years, I have been warning people about the dangers of not getting enough vitamin D.

The best way to obtain vitamin D is by exposing your skin to direct sunlight. Of course, receiving vitamin D this way is not always the easiest thing to do, especially in the winter months.

During the winter or when sufficient sunlight is unavailable, you can supplement with vitamin D3.

Direct Sunlight Exposure
Direct sunlight – the best way to obtain vitamin D – may be hard for you to get, especially in winter

However, it’s essential to take vitamin D with another nutrient that is often forgotten… vitamin K2.

The two of these nutrients form a powerful synergy that can optimize your health.

My mother needed these nutrients and when I sought to purchase a single supplement that contained both of them in the optimal dose, I was shocked to discover that there was not one on the market.

When I realized that I wouldn’t find a vitamin D & K formula that met my incredibly high standards for quality, safety, and performance, I knew I had to develop this formulation – I was sure there were millions of others that would benefit from it.

Before I go into the details of all the extraordinary benefits of my vitamin D & K supplement, I first want to shed light on how each nutrient positively impacts almost every system and function in your body

Vitamin D – Essential for Complete Wellness

Although being vitamin D deficient does not have many obvious outward signs, I can just about guarantee that if you are lacking in the nutrient and you increase your levels, you will feel noticeably better.

Why is this? Because vitamin D (specifically the vitamin D3 form) has a far-reaching and significant impact on many different areas throughout your body.

For instance, this vital nutrient supports the following functions:

  • Heart health*
  • Cell formation and longevity*
  • Pancreatic health*
  • Healthy aging process*
  • Sleep patterns*
  • Reproductive health*
  • Athletic performance*
  • Respiratory health*
  • Immune health*
  • Positive mood and feelings of well-being*
  • Strong and healthy bones*
  • Healthy metabolic rate*
  • Muscle strength*
  • Proper digestion and food absorption*
  • Eye health*
  • Skin health*
  • Hearing*
  • Hair and hair follicles*

And the list goes on and on…

I’m sure you can now see why I believe this vitamin is essential for optimal health, and why you should have optimal levels!

Becoming Vitamin D Deficient… Easier Than You Think

Unfortunately, especially during the winter months, many people do not receive the sufficient amount of sunlight for their bodies to produce optimal levels of vitamin D3.

This is because during the winter in non-tropical or subtropical locations, the sun’s rays have to penetrate extra layers of the atmosphere that essentially filter out most, if not all, of the UVB rays that cause your body to produce vitamin D.

The chart below shows the likelihood that people across the U.S. will obtain enough UVB rays from direct sun exposure throughout the year.

As you can see, in the months of January and February, the sun is simply not close enough across the entire U.S. for vitamin D synthesis to happen and your body to obtain enough vitamin D. Of course, these are only two months out of the entire year, but there are many months where UVB rays will be hard to obtain, and you could become vitamin D deficient.

The images above display the likelihood of vitamin D synthesis across the U.S. by month.

Source of images: www.epa.gov

Note: If you live outside of the U.S., visit this Sun or Moon Altitude Table to determine how far the sun is from your location at any given time.

But winter isn’t the only time of year that people are at risk of becoming deficient in vitamin D… in fact, the risk is high year-round, with research suggesting that up to 85 percent of people may be vitamin D deficient.

Even in summer, many people do not spend nearly enough time outdoors to get the sun exposure they need. A minimum of 10 to 15 minutes of direct sun exposure on sufficient amounts of exposed skin regularly is required for your body to absorb enough UVB rays to produce vitamin D.

If it’s rainy or cloudy, you may miss sun exposure, or you may just get too busy at home or in the office to spend much time outdoors. It is also important to note that jackets, pants, and other articles of clothing block the sun exposure you need, so often getting the necessary sunlight on your bare skin is a major challenge.

What Other Groups Are at Risk for Deficiency?

Along with the fact that most people receive very limited sun exposure all year, there are specific groups of people at risk of vitamin D deficiency for other reasons…

Pregnant women: Vitamin D deficiency is thought to be common among pregnant women, and regaining optimal levels is critical for you and your baby.

The elderly: As you age, your skin loses the ability to generate vitamin D. Plus, the elderly tend to spend more time indoors.

Dark-skinned people: People with dark skin tones have higher melatonin levels, which blocks UVB radiation and limits the body’s ability to produce vitamin D3.

Overweight people: Individuals who are overweight often have considerably higher needs for vitamin D because the nutrient is oil-soluble and hidden in their fat, depriving the body of benefits.

In addition, vitamin D concentrations in nearly all foods will not provide optimum levels of vitamin D in your blood.

There is a false perception that you can get the vitamin D you need from drinking milk, but this isn’t true. Vitamin D is not naturally occurring in milk, but instead is added into it. You have probably seen milk containers that say they are “fortified with vitamin D.”

The problem is that the levels of vitamin D added into the milk are far too low to give you enough of the nutrient. In general, trying to obtain vitamin D from your diet alone will not work.

Take Vitamin D With This Powerhouse Nutrient…

Vitamin K Benefits
Vitamin K supports vital functions throughout your body including your heart and vascular system*

As I touched on earlier, if you take oral vitamin D it is important to also consume vitamin K2. This is because the two vitamins work synergistically. Without vitamin K2, vitamin D cannot function optimally.

Additionally, vitamin K’s benefits are impaired by a lack of vitamin D – so you need both nutrients together.

While much is known about vitamin D, the research on vitamin K is still in its early stages, with much to be discovered.

As more research and studies are done on both vitamin K2 alone and vitamins D and K2 together, I know that even more exciting insight will be revealed. Of what has been discovered so far about vitamin K, your potential benefits from this extraordinary nutrient are pretty much off the chart…

For example, vitamin K:

  • Supports your healthy heart*
  • Helps support your vascular (arteries and veins) system*
  • Helps you maintain strong bones and keep them healthy*
  • Supports your memory function*
  • Supports muscle and nerve health*

Plus, vitamin K has no known toxicity. Even though it is a fat-soluble vitamin, there has never been any reported case in the literature of a vitamin K overdose. The difficult part is making sure that you are taking the right form of this essential vitamin. There are three main types of vitamin K: K1, K2, and K3.

You can eliminate vitamin K3 from your list as it is a synthetic variant of the vitamin that I don’t recommend for anyone. In fact, this is the one that you and your family should avoid at all costs.

In contrast, vitamin K1 is the form you will most find in your healthy diet, with many green leafy vegetables containing high amounts of the nutrient, including kale, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and spinach. The problem is that the absorption of vitamin K1 from green leafy vegetables is not very efficient, with researching showing that only a mere 10 to 15 percent gets absorbed.

With that being said, the last type of vitamin K, K2, found in many fermented foods, is the one I recommend. Vitamin K2 has many different varieties including MK-4, MK-7, MK-8, and MK-9. However, the best form is MK-7, which is found in fermented products such as natto, or fermented soybeans or chickpeas, since it is the easiest for your body to absorb.

Unfortunately, many people do not eat or enjoy many fermented foods, which could lead to vitamin K deficiency without a high-quality supplement.

The Amazing Benefits of Fermented Chickpea

When looking for a top-quality vitamin K2 supplement, you will notice many brands don’t use MK-7, and if they do, it comes from fermented soy. While fermented soy is a legitimate source of vitamin K2 from MK-7, the problem is potential allergens, which may cause mild to severe physical symptoms in some people.

To combat soy allergens, I made sure that fermented chickpea was used in my D & K2 formula. Fermented chickpea is also completely bioavailable, stable, and proven to be one of the most beneficial varieties of vitamin K2.

In general, chickpeas are very beneficial and contain many nutrients, including a high amount of folate, manganese, fiber and zinc. But the real magic happens during the fermentation process.

You can ferment chickpeas using a starter culture that contains a type of healthy bacteria called bacillus subtilus. The fermented chickpeas then become natto—as mentioned earlier, the most potent natural source of vitamin K2. In fact, vitamin K2 concentration after the consumption of natto has been shown to be about 10 times higher than that of vitamin K1 after eating spinach.

Other benefits of fermented chickpea (natto) include:

  • Helps support healthy circulation*
  • Promotes a healthy cardiovascular system*
  • Controls proper utilization of calcium*
  • Promotes healthy bones*

Unfortunately, most people do not eat or enjoy natto due to its slippery texture and strong flavor. That’s why it’s important that it’s included in my Vitamins D & K2 supplement—so you can reap the benefits of natto without the pungent taste, and ensure you are getting enough Vitamin K2.

Vitamins K2 and D3 Working Together for Your Healthy Heart*

As just discussed, MK-7 is the most beneficial form of vitamin K2 which is why I am including MenaQ7® in my D & K2 formula – which is the leading patented, clinically supported vitamin K2 on the market today for helping to:

  • Support the development of healthy, flexible arteries for cardiovascular health*
  • Support optimum calcium absorption and utilization*
  • Promote normal blood clotting*
Vitamins D3 and K2 Combo Benefits
Vitamins D3 and K2 together support healthy arteries for cardiovascular health*

In fact, in a new “breakthrough” study on the impact of vitamin K2 as MenaQ7®, results showed substantial heart health benefits.* MenaQ7® was studied in a group of healthy women over the course of three years, helping to maintain “vascular elasticity” – keeping blood vessels healthy.*

But both vitamin D and vitamin K together are essential for optimal heart health.*

This is because vitamin D3 is needed for the creation of something called Matrix-Gla Protein (MGP), which plays a large role in preventing calcium from building up in your arterial walls (which signifies poor cardiovascular health).

Whereas MGP is dependent on vitamin D3 to do its job, it also needs vitamin K2 to activate it. When you have sufficient amounts of both of these nutrients, your body can work to maintain healthy arteries and blood vessels.*

In another recent study, one group of participants were given oral administration of both vitamin K2 (MenaQ7®) and vitamin D, while another group was just given vitamin D alone. Over the course of six months, the group with vitamins D and K2 maintained their cardiovascular health.

What You Need to Know About Vitamin K2, D and Calcium


Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin most well known for the important role it plays in blood clotting. However, many do not realize that there are different kinds of vitamin K, and they are completely different.

Watch the video discussion. URL:https://youtu.be/ET_2w9OOdtY

Story at-a-glance

  • Vitamin K2 is an important fat-soluble vitamin that plays critical roles in protecting your heart and brain, and building strong bones. It also plays an important role in cancer protection
  • The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also helps remove calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues
  • The optimal amounts of vitamin K2 are still under investigation, but it seems likely that 180 to 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 might be enough to activate your body’s K2-dependent proteins to shuttle calcium to the proper areas
  • If you take oral vitamin D, you also need to take vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries
  • If you take a calcium supplement, it’s important to maintain the proper balance between calcium, vitamin K2, vitamin D, and magnesium. Lack of balance between these nutrients is why calcium supplements have become associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke

The health benefits of vitamin K2 go far beyond blood clotting, which is done by vitamin K1, and vitamin K2 also works synergistically with a number of other nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D.

Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, a naturopathic physician with a keen interest in nutrition, has authored what I believe is one of the most comprehensive books on this important topic, titled: Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life

“I tuned in to the emerging research about K2 early in 2007,” she says. “Not long before, I had read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price. When I learned about vitamin K2, I thought:

“Hey, you know what? I’m sure Price talked all about this in his book.” I went to the book, looked through it, and didn’t find any reference to vitamin K2. I was really stumped.

A little bit later in 2007, I read a brilliant article by Chris Masterjohn that links vitamin K2 to Price’s work on Activator X.

Once I realized that link, the light bulb went on about how important this nutrient is, and how overlooked it’s been for so long. It really provides the missing piece to the puzzle of so many health conditions, and yet it was being completely overlooked, despite the overwhelming amounts of modern-day research.”

What’s So Special About Vitamin K2?

Vitamin K is actually a group of fat-soluble vitamins. Of the two main ones, K1 and K2, the one receiving the most attention is K1, which is found in green leafy vegetables and is very easy to get through your diet. This lack of distinction has created a lot of confusion, and it’s one of the reasons why vitamin K2 has been overlooked for so long.

The three types of vitamin K are:

  1. Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, is found naturally in plants, especially green vegetables; K1 goes directly to your liver and helps you maintain healthy blood clotting
  2. Vitamin K2, also called menaquinone, is made by the bacteria that line your gastrointestinal tract; K2 goes straight to your blood vessel walls, bones, and tissues other than your liver
  3. Vitamin K3, or menadione, is a synthetic form I do not recommend; it’s important to note that toxicity has occurred in infants injected with this synthetic vitamin K3

It also plays a role in removing calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues.

“K2 is really critical for keeping your bones strong and your arteries clear,” Rheaume-Bleue says.

Now, vitamin K2 can be broken into two additional categories, called:

  1. MK-4 (menaquinone-4), a short-chain form of vitamin K2 found in butter, egg yolks, and animal-based foods
  2. MK-7 (menaquinone-7), longer-chain forms found in fermented foods. There’s a variety of these long-chain forms but the most common one is MK-7. This is the one you’ll want to look for in supplements, because in a supplement form, the MK-4 products are actually synthetic. They are not derived from natural food products containing MK-4.

    The MK-7 – these long-chain, natural bacterial-derived vitamin K2 – is from a fermentation process, which offers a number of health advantages:

    1. It stays in your body longer, and
    2. It has a longer half-life, which means you can just take it once a day in very convenient dosing

How Much Vitamin K2 Do You Need?

The optimal amounts of vitamin K2 are still under investigation, but it seems likely that 180 to 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 should be enough to activate your body’s K2-dependent proteins to shuttle the calcium where it needs to be, and remove it from the places where it shouldn’t.

“The most recent clinical trials used around those amounts of K2,” Rheaume-Bleue says. “The average person is getting a lot less than that. That’s for sure. In the North American diet, you can see as little as maybe 10 percent of that or less. Certainly, not near enough to be able to optimize bone density and improve heart health.”

She estimates that about 80 percent of Americans do not get enough vitamin K2 in their diet to activate their K2 proteins, which is similar to the deficiency rate of vitamin D. Vitamin K2 deficiency leaves you vulnerable for a number of chronic diseases, including:

Osteoporosis Heart disease Heart attack and stroke
Inappropriate calcification, from heel spurs to kidney stones Brain disease Cancer

“I talked about vitamin K2 moving calcium around the body. Its other main role is to activate proteins that control cell growth. That means K2 has a very important role to play in cancer protection,” Rheaume-Bleue says.

“When we’re lacking K2, we’re at much greater risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer. And these are three concerns that used to be relatively rare. Over the last 100 years, as we’ve changed the way we produced our food and the way we eat, they have become very common.”

Researchers are also looking into other health benefits. For example, one recent study published in the journal Modern Rheumatology1 found that vitamin K2 has the potential to improve disease activity besides osteoporosis in those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Another, published in the journal Science2, found that vitamin K2 serves as a mitochondrial electron carrier, thereby helping maintain normal ATP production in mitochondrial dysfunction, such as that found in Parkinson’s Disease.

According to the authors:

“We identified Drosophila UBIAD1/Heix as a modifier of pink1, a gene mutated in Parkinson’s disease that affects mitochondrial function. We found that vitamin K(2) was necessary and sufficient to transfer electrons in Drosophila mitochondria. Heix mutants showed severe mitochondrial defects that were rescued by vitamin K(2), and, similar to ubiquinone, vitamin K(2) transferred electrons in Drosophila mitochondria, resulting in more efficient adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. Thus, mitochondrial dysfunction was rescued by vitamin K(2) that serves as a mitochondrial electron carrier, helping to maintain normal ATP production.”

The Interplay Between Vitamin K2, Vitamin D, and Calcium

As I’ve discussed on numerous occasions, vitamin D is a critical nutrient for optimal health and is best obtained from sun exposure or a safe tanning bed. However, many are taking oral vitamin D, which may become problematic unless you’re also getting sufficient amounts of vitamin K2. Dr. Rheaume-Bleue explains:

“When you take vitamin D, your body creates more of these vitamin K2-dependent proteins, the proteins that will move the calcium around. They have a lot of potential health benefits. But until the K2 comes in to activate those proteins, those benefits aren’t realized. So, really, if you’re taking vitamin D, you’re creating an increased demand for K2. And vitamin D and K2 work together to strengthen your bones and improve your heart health.

… For so long, we’ve been told to take calcium for osteoporosis… and vitamin D, which we know is helpful. But then, more studies are 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.”

IMPORTANT: If You Take Vitamin D, You Need K2

This is a really crucial point: If you opt for oral vitamin D, you need to also consume in your food or take supplemental vitamin K2.

“There are so many people on the vitamin-D-mega-dose bandwagon, taking more and more of vitamin D. And it could absolutely be causing harm if you are lacking the K2 to complete the job to get the calcium where it’s supposed to be,” Rheaume-Bleue warns.

“We don’t see symptoms of vitamin D toxicity very often. But when we do, those symptoms are inappropriate calcification. That’s the symptom of vitamin D toxicity. And it is actually a lack of vitamin K2 that can cause that…”

While the ideal or optimal ratios between vitamin D and vitamin K2 have yet to be elucidated, Rheume-Bleue suggests about 150-200 micrograms of K2 will meet the need for the “average” healthy person.

“My earlier recommendation was not taking into account people who were doing high dose of vitamin D supplementation,” Rheaume-Bleue says. “That’s where it gets a little bit more technical. It seems that for the average person, around 200 to 280 micrograms will activate your K2 proteins and do a lot of good for your bones and your heart. If you’re taking high levels of vitamin D… then I would recommend taking more K2.”

The good news is that vitamin K2 has no toxicity. No toxic effects have ever been demonstrated in the medical literature.

“The reason why K2 doesn’t have potential toxic effect is that all vitamin K2 does is activate K2 proteins. It will activate all the K2 proteins it finds. And if they’re all activated and you take extra K2, it simply won’t do that. That’s why we don’t see a potential for toxicity the way we do with vitamin A or D,” she says.

If You Need Calcium, Aim for Calcium-Rich Foods First

For those who are calcium deficient, Rheaume-Bleue recommends looking to food sources high in calcium, before opting for a supplement. This is because many high calcium foods also contain naturally high amounts of, you guessed it, vitamin K2! Nature cleverly gives us these two nutrients in combination, so they work optimally. Good sources of calcium include dairy, especially cheeses, and vegetables, although veggies aren’t high in K2.

Additionally, magnesium is far more important than calcium if you are going to consider supplementing. Magnesium will also help keep calcium in the cell to do its job far better. In many ways it serves as nutritional version of the highly effective class of drugs called calcium channel blockers. If you do chose to supplement with calcium, for whatever reason, it’s important to maintain the proper balance between your intake of calcium and other nutrients such as:

  • Vitamin K2
  • Vitamin D
  • Magnesium

The Importance of Magnesium

As mentioned previously, magnesium is another important player to allow for proper function of calcium. As with vitamin D and K2, magnesium deficiency is also common, and when you are lacking in magnesium and take calcium, you may exacerbate the situation. Vitamin K2 and magnesium complement each other, as magnesium helps lower blood pressure, which is an important component of heart disease.

Dietary sources of magnesium include sea vegetables, such as kelp, dulse, and nori. Few people eat these on a regular basis however, if at all. Vegetables can also be a good source, along with whole grains. However, grains MUST be prepared properly to remove phytates and anti-nutrients that can otherwise block your absorption of magnesium. As for supplements, Rheaume-Bleue recommends using magnesium citrate. Another emerging one is magnesium threonate, which appears promising primarily due to its superior ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane.

How Can You Tell if You’re Lacking in Vitamin K2?

There’s no way to test for vitamin K2 deficiency. But by assessing your diet and lifestyle, you can get an idea of whether or not you may be lacking in this critical nutrient. If you have any of the following health conditions, you’re likely deficient in vitamin K2 as they are all connected to K2:

  • Do you have osteoporosis?
  • Do you have heart disease?
  • Do you have diabetes?

If you do not have any of those health conditions, but do NOT regularly eat high amounts of the following foods, then your likelihood of being vitamin K2 deficient is still very high:

    • Grass-fed organic animal products (i.e. eggs, butter, dairy)
    • Certain fermented foods such as natto, or vegetables fermented using a starter culture of vitamin K2-producing bacteria. Please note that most fermented vegetables are not really high in vitamin K2 and come in at about 50 mcg per serving. However, if specific starter cultures are used they can have ten times as much, or 500 mcg per serving.
    • Goose liver pâté
    • Certain cheeses such as Brie and Gouda (these two are particularly high in K2, containing about 75 mcg per ounce)

“An important thing to mention when it comes to cheese (because this becomes an area of confusion), [is that] because cheese is a bacterial derived form of vitamin K2, it actually doesn’t matter if the cheese came from grass-fed milk. That would be nice, but it’s not the milk that went into the cheese that makes the K2. It’s the bacteria making the cheese, which means it doesn’t matter if you’re importing your brie from France or getting it domestically. Brie cheese, the bacteria that makes brie cheese, will make vitamin K2,” she says.

Fermented vegetables, which are one of my new passions, primarily for supplying beneficial bacteria back into our gut, can be a great source of vitamin K if you ferment your own using the proper starter culture. We recently had samples of high-quality fermented organic vegetables made with our specific starter culture tested, and were shocked to discover that not only does a typical serving of about two to three ounces contain about 10 trillion beneficial bacteria, but it also contained 500 mcg of vitamin K2.

Note that not every strain of bacteria makes K2. For example, most yoghurts have almost no vitamin K2. Certain types of cheeses are very high in K2, and others are not. It really depends on the specific bacteria. You can’t assume that any fermented food will be high in K2, but some fermented foods are very high in K2, such as natto. Others, such as miso and tempeh, are not high n K2.

Pregnant? Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Vitamin K2

Last but not least, while vitamin K2 is critical for the prevention of a number of chronic diseases listed above, it’s also vital for women who are trying to conceive, who are pregnant, and for growing healthy children. “K2 plays a very important role throughout pregnancy (for the development of teeth for both primary and adult teeth, the development of proper facial form, healthy facial form, as well as strong bones), then again throughout childhood to prevent cavities, and through adolescence as the skeleton is growing,” Rheaume-Bleue says.

Vitamin K2 is needed throughout pregnancy, and later while breastfeeding. It may be particularly important during the third trimester, as most women’s levels tend to drop at that time, indicating there’s an additional drain on the system toward the end of the pregnancy. Since vitamin K2 has no toxicity issues, it may be prudent to double or even triple — which is what Rheaume-Bleue did during her own recent pregnancy — your intake while pregnant.

New Study Shows Evidence That Vitamin K2 Positively Impacts Inflammation.


Story at-a-glance

  • A specific type of vitamin K2 (MK-7) may help prevent inflammation, according to new research
  • Vitamin K2, particularly menaquinone-7 (MK-7), has been the subject of extensive research because it stays active in your body longer enabling your body to benefit from much lower levels
  • Vitamin K2 works synergistically with a number of other nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D; one of its biological roles is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth
  • MK-7 is found in high levels in the fermented soybean-based food called natto, certain cheeses such as Edam and Brie, and can also be taken in supplement form.

Chronic Pain

 

Chronic inflammation is low-grade and systemic, often silently damaging your tissues over an extended period of time. This process can go on for decadeswithout you noticing, until disease symptoms suddenly occur long after irreversible damage is done.

Chronic inflammation is the source of many diseases, including cancer, obesity, and heart disease, which essentially makes it the leading cause of death in the U.S.

Knowing how to keep chronic inflammation at bay is also invaluable in protecting your health, which brings us to a new study on vitamin K2 presented at the 13th International Nutrition and Diagnostics Conference (INDC 2013) in the Czech Republic.1

The study revealed that a specific type of vitamin K2 (MK-7) may help prevent inflammation. But before I get into the details, it’s important to understand the different forms that vitamin K comes in.

The Two Basic Types of Vitamin K – K1 and K2

Vitamin K can be classified as either K1 or K2:

    1. Vitamin K1: Found in green vegetables, K1 goes directly to your liver and helps you maintain a healthy blood clotting system. (This is the kind of K that infants need to help prevent a serious bleeding disorder.)

It is also vitamin K1 that keeps your own blood vessels from calcifying, and helps your bones retain calcium and develop the right crystalline structure.

    1. Vitamin K2: Bacteria produce this type of vitamin K. It is present in high quantities in your gut, but unfortunately most is passed out in your stool. K2 goes straight to vessel walls, bones and tissues other than your liver.

It is present in fermented foods, particularly cheese and the Japanese food natto, which is by far the richest source of K2.

Vitamin K1 can convert to K2 in your body, but there are some problems with this; the amount of K2 produced by this process alone is typically insufficient. Making matters even more complex, there are several different forms of vitamin K2. MK-8 and MK-9 come primarily from dairy products. MK-4 and MK-7 are the two most significant forms of K2 and act very differently in your body:

    • MK-4 is a synthetic product, very similar to vitamin K1, and your body is capable of converting K1 into MK-4. However, MK-4 has a very short biological half-life of about one hour, making it a poor candidate as a dietary supplement.

After reaching your intestines, it remains mostly in your liver, where it is useful in synthesizing blood-clotting factors.

    • MK-7 is a newer agent with more practical applications because it stays in your body longer; its half-life is three days, meaning you have a much better chance of building up a consistent blood level, compared to MK-4 or K1. MK-7 is extracted from the Japanese fermented soy product called natto.

You could actually get loads of MK-7 from consuming natto, as it is relatively inexpensive and is available in most Asian food markets. Few Americans, however, tolerate its smell and slimy texture.

Vitamin K2 as MK-7 Helps Prevent Inflammation in Your Body

Vitamin K2, particularly menaquinone-7 (MK-7), has been the subject of much research because it stays active in your body longer so you are able to benefit from much lower levels. The study from the Czech Republic evaluated the role of MK-7 in inflammation and found that it prevents inflammation by inhibiting pro-inflammatory markers produced by white blood cells called monocytes.

NattoPharma reported:2

The novel finding in our study supplements our three-year clinical study showing MK-7’s ability to slow down cardiovascular aging and osteoporosis, and it should further serve as the catalyst to create the urgency of daily consumption of MK-7… We know that in Western populations, most people do not obtain enough due to modern diet.

Our food is increasingly deficient in vitamin K2 in particular, and up to 98% of the general healthy population may be vitamin K2 insufficient with long-term detrimental impact on bone and cardiovascular health.”

It’s important to realize that dietary components can either trigger or preventinflammation from taking root in your body. For example, whereas synthetic trans fats and sugar, particularly fructose, will increase inflammation, eating healthy fats such as animal-based omega-3 fats found in krill oil or the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA) will help to reduce them.

MK-7 appears to be one more healthful natural substance that can be added to the anti-inflammatory list, and I’ll discuss the best food sources of this shortly.

As for inflammation in general, if you have not already addressed your diet, this would be the best place to start, regardless of whether you’re experiencing symptoms of chronic inflammation or not. To help you get started, I suggest following my free Optimized Nutrition Plan, which starts at the beginner phase and systematically guides you step-by-step to the advanced level.

What Else Is Vitamin K2 Good For?

The health benefits of vitamin K2 go far beyond blood clotting, which is done by vitamin K1, and vitamin K2 also works synergistically with a number of other nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D. Its biological role is to helpmove calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also plays a role in removing calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues.

Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, a naturopathic physician, estimates that about 80 percent of Americans do not get enough vitamin K2 in their diet to activate their K2 proteins to shuttle the calcium where it needs to be and remove it from the places where it shouldn’t be. Vitamin K2 deficiency leaves you vulnerable to a number of chronic diseases, including:

Osteoporosis Heart disease Heart attack and stroke
Inappropriate calcification, from heel spurs to kidney stones Brain disease Cancer

 

“I talked about vitamin K2 moving calcium around the body. Its other main role is to activate proteins that control cell growth. That means K2 has a very important role to play in cancer protection,” Rheaume-Bleue says. “When we’re lacking K2, we’re at much greater risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer. And these are three concerns that used to be relatively rare. Over the last 100 years, as we’ve changed the way we produced our food and the way we eat, they have become very common.”

Researchers are also looking into other health benefits, as well. For example, one study published in the journal Modern Rheumatology found that vitamin K2 has the potential to improve disease activity besides osteoporosis in those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).3 Another, published in the journal Science found that vitamin K2 serves as a mitochondrial electron carrier, thereby helping maintain normal adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production in mitochondrial dysfunction, such as that found in Parkinson’s disease.4 Further, according to a 2009 Dutch study, subtypes MK-7, MK-8 and MK-9 in particular are associated with reduced vascular calcification even at small dietary intakes (as low as 1 to 2 mcg per day).5

What Are the Best Food Sources of Vitamin K2, Including MK-7?

You can obtain all the K2 you’ll need (about 200 micrograms) by eating 15 grams of natto daily, which is half an ounce. However, natto is generally not appealing to a Westerner’s palate, so you can also find vitamin K2, including MK-7, in other fermented foods. Fermented vegetables, which are one of my new passions, primarily for supplying beneficial bacteria back into your gut, can be a great source of vitamin K if you ferment your own using the proper starter culture.

We had samples of high-quality fermented organic vegetables made with our specific starter culture tested, and were shocked to discover that not only does a typical serving of about two to three ounces contain about 10 trillion beneficial bacteria, but it also contained 500 mcg of vitamin K2.

Note that not every strain of bacteria makes K2. For example, most yogurts have almost no vitamin K2. Certain types of cheeses are very high in K2, and others are not. It really depends on the specific bacteria. You can’t assume that any fermented food will be high in K2, but some fermented foods are very high in K2, such as natto. Others, such as miso and tempeh, are not high in K2. In my interview with Dr. Rheamue-Bleue, she identified the cheeses highest in K2 are Gouda and Brie, which contain about 75 mcg per ounce. Additionally, scientists have found high levels of MK-7 in a type ofcheese called Edam.

How Much Vitamin K2 Do You Need?

Although the exact dosing is yet to be determined, Dr. Cees Vermeer, one of the world’s top researchers in the field of vitamin K, recommends between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for adults. You must use caution on the higher doses if you take anticoagulants, but if you are generally healthy and not on these types of medications, I suggest 150 mcg daily. Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about overdosing on K2—people have been given a thousand-fold “overdose” over the course of three years, showing no adverse reactions (i.e., no increased clotting tendencies). If you have any of the following health conditions, you’re likely deficient in vitamin K2 as they are all connected to K2:

  • Do you have osteoporosis?
  • Do you have heart disease?
  • Do you have diabetes?

Please note also that if you opt for oral vitamin D, you also need to consume vitamin K2 in your food or take supplemental vitamin K2, as they work synergistically together and an imbalance may actually be harmful. If you do not have any of those health conditions, but do NOT regularly eat high amounts of the following foods, then your likelihood of being vitamin K2 deficient is still very high:

  • Grass-fed organic animal products (i.e. eggs, butter, dairy)
  • Certain fermented foods such as natto, or vegetables fermented using a starter culture of vitamin K2-producing bacteria
  • Certain cheeses such as Brie and Gouda (as mentioned, these two are particularly high in K2, containing about 75 mcg per ounce)

If You’re Considering a Vitamin K2 Supplement …

There’s no way to test for vitamin K2 deficiency. But by assessing your diet and lifestyle as mentioned above you can get an idea of whether or not you may be lacking in this critical nutrient.  The next best thing to dietary vitamin K2 is a vitamin K2 supplement. MK-7 is the form you’ll want to look for in supplements, because in a supplement form the MK-4 products are actually synthetic. They are not derived from natural food products containing MK-4. The MK-7– long-chain, natural bacterial-derived vitamin K2– is from a fermentation process, which offers a number of health advantages:

  • It stays in your body longer
  • It has a longer half-life, which means you can just take it once a day in very convenient dosing

Finally, remember to always take your vitamin K supplement with fat since it is fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed without it.

Nutritional Adjuncts to the Fat-Soluble Vitamins A, D, and K .


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The “K” in “vitamin K” stands for “koagulation,” the German word for blood clotting. From its discovery in the 1930s through the late 1970s, we knew of no other roles for the vitamin.

The 1990s had come and nearly gone by the time awareness of its role in bone metabolism broke out of the confines of the vitamin K research community, and only in the twenty-first century has its role in preventing calcification of the blood vessels and other soft tissues become clear.

Vitamin K2, found in animal fats and fermented foods, is present in much smaller quantities in most diets when compared to vitamin K1, found in leafy greens.

Since researchers throughout the twentieth century saw the two forms of the vitamin as interchangeable, they ignored vitamin K2 as though its scarcity made it irrelevant.

The realization that vitamin K is not just for “koagulation,” however, led us to discover that vitamins K1 and K2 are not interchangeable after all: vitamin K1 more effectively supports blood clotting, while vitamin K2 more effectively ensures that calcium winds up in the bones and teeth where it supports health rather than in the soft tissues where it contributes to disease.

It was thus only in 2006 that the United States Department of Agriculture determined the vitamin K2 contents of common foods for the first time.1

Vitamins A, D, and K

While vitamin K2 languished in obscurity, vitamins A and D continually traded places with one another as the favored vitamin du jour. The pendulum initially swung in favor of vitamin D because rickets was common in the early twentieth century while eye diseases resulting from vitamin A deficiency were rare. It then swung in favor of vitamin A when that vitamin became known as the “anti-infective” vitamin.2

After World War II, the medical establishment had easy access to antibiotics and thus lost interest in battling infections with vitamin A.3 Vitamin D fared far worse, taking the blame for a British epidemic of infant hypercalcemia and eventually earning a reputation as “the most toxic of all the vitamins.”4 These days, the pendulum has swung full force in the opposite direction: we blame an epidemic of osteoporosis on vitamin A, and see vitamin D as the new panacea.5

Though a paradigm of synergy never took hold, it was not for want of opportunity. When Mellanby and Green first demonstrated in the 1920s that vitamin A prevented infections, they concluded that vitamin D could not be “safely substituted for cod-liver oil in medical treatment,” and that “if a substitute for cod-liver oil is given it ought to be at least as powerful as this oil in its content of both vitamins A and D.”

Consistent with this point of view, clinical trials in the 1930s showed that cod liver oil could reduce the incidence of colds by a third and cut hours missed from work in half.6 Cod liver oil also caused dramatic reductions in mortality from less common but more severe infections. The medical establishment, for example, had been successfully using it to treat tuberculosis since the mid-nineteenth century.7

Studies in the 1930s expanded this to the treatment of measles.8 These findings made the popularity of cod liver oil soar .

The idea that vitamin A alone was “antiinfective,” however, led to similar trials with halibut liver oil, which is rich in vitamin A but poor in vitamin D. These trials often failed to show any benefit. I.G. Spiesman of the University of Illinois College of Medicine proposed a simple solution to this paradox: vitamins A and D worked together to prevent infection, he suggested, and both vitamins are needed to prevent the common cold.

He published his own clinical trial in 1941, showing that massive doses of each vitamin alone provided no benefit and often proved toxic. Massive doses of both vitamins together, however, caused no toxicity and offered powerful protection against the common cold.10 Nevertheless, as antibiotics grew in popularity after World War II, interest in the fat-soluble vitamins waned and cod liver oil use began its steady decline .

The emergence of molecular biology in the late twentieth century provided new evidence for synergy. Vitamins A and D both make independent contributions to immune function by binding to their respective receptors and thereby directing cellular processes in favor of healthful immune responses, but studies in isolated cells suggest that vitamin D may only be able to activate its receptor with the direct cooperation of vitamin A.11, 12

We now know that vitamins A and D also cooperate together to regulate the production of certain vitamin K-dependent proteins. Once vitamin K activates these proteins, they help mineralize bones and teeth, support adequate growth, and protect arteries and other soft tissues from abnormal calcification, and protect against cell death.

As described below, the synergistic action of the fat-soluble trio depends on support from other nutrients like magnesium, zinc, fat and carbohydrate, as well as important metabolic factors such as carbon dioxide and thyroid hormone

Magnesium and the Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Magnesium contributes to more than three hundred specific chemical reactions that occur within our bodies, including every reaction that depends on ATP, the universal energy currency of our cells.13 Magnesium also activates the enzyme that makes copies of DNA, as well as the enzyme that makes RNA, which is responsible for translating the codes contained within our genes into the production of every protein within our body. This process of translating the DNA code in order to produce proteins is called “gene expression.”

Vitamins A and D carry out most of their functions by regulating gene expression, which means they rely directly on magnesium to carry out these functions. They also rely indirectly on magnesium because our cells can only produce their receptors and all the proteins with which they interact with the assistance of this critical mineral.

The well-studied interaction of magnesium with vitamin D and calcium provides an illustrative example. Magnesium is required for both steps in the activation of vitamin D to calcitriol, the form of vitamin D that regulates gene expression and stimulates calcium absorption. Even fully activated vitamin D (calcitriol), however, is useless in the absence of magnesium. Humans who are deficient in magnesium have low blood levels of both calcitriol and calcium, but treating them with calcitriol does nothing to restore calcium levels to normal. The only way to normalize calcium levels in these subjects is to provide them with sufficient magnesium. Magnesium also supports the cellular pumps that keep most calcium out of our soft tissue cells and make it available for the extracellular matrix of bones and teeth.

Zinc and the Fat-Soluble Vitamins

As with magnesium, the fat-soluble trio can only support health if our diets contain adequate zinc. The interaction between vitamin A and zinc is particularly well studied.15 Vitamin A supports the intestinal absorption of zinc, possibly by increasing the production of a binding protein in the intestines. Zinc, in turn, supports the formation of vesicles involved in transporting vitamin A and the other the fat-soluble vitamins across the intestinal wall.

Zinc is an essential structural component of many vitamin A-related proteins, including the primary protein that transports vitamin A through the blood, the enzyme that carries out the first step in the activation of vitamin A to retinoic acid, and the nuclear receptor that binds to retinoic acid and allows it to regulate gene expression.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the interaction between zinc and vitamin A in humans. For example, in humans with marginal zinc status, zinc supplementation supports vitamin A’s role in visual function16 and eye development (Figure 2).17

Although less well studied, zinc also interacts with vitamin D. Vitamin D and zinc most likely promote each other’s intestinal absorption.18 In rats, dietary zinc supports the production of the vitamin D receptor.19 Once the receptor is formed, zinc provides it with essential structural support. Although in the absence of this structural support the receptor still binds to vitamin D, the structural support is needed to allow this vitamin-receptor complex to bind to DNA.20 Studies with isolated cells illustrate the importance of this interaction: adding zinc to these cells increases the rate at which vitamin D activates the expression of genes.21

Fat, Carbs, Thyroid and Carbon Dioxide

In order to absorb fat-soluble vitamins from our food, we need to eat fat. Human studies show that both the amount and type of fat are important. For example, one study showed that absorption of beta-carotene from a salad with no added fat was close to zero. The addition of a lowfat dressing made from canola oil increased absorption, but a high-fat dressing was much more effective.23 Canola oil, however, is far from ideal. Studies in rats show that absorption of carotenoids is much higher with olive oil than with corn oil.24

Similarly, studies in humans show that consuming beta-carotene with beef tallow rather than sunflower oil increases the amount we absorb from 11 to 17 percent. The reason for this is unknown, but it may be that oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids promote the oxidative destruction of fat-soluble vitamins in the intestines before we are able to absorb them. Thus, the more fat we eat, and the lower those fats are in polyunsaturated fatty acids, the more fat-soluble vitamins we absorb.

While dietary fat is clearly important, there may be a role for dietary carbohydrate as well. Once vitamins A and D stimulate the production of vitamin K-dependent proteins, vitamin K activates those proteins by adding carbon dioxide to them. Once added to a protein, carbon dioxide carries a negative charge and allows the protein to interact with calcium, which carries a positive charge. The greater the supply of carbon dioxide, the better vitamin K can do its job.25 Carbohydrates are rich in carbon and oxygen, and when we break them down for energy we release these elements in our breath as carbon dioxide. Because carbohydrates are richer in oxygen, burning them generates about 30 percent more carbon dioxide per calorie than burning fat, and low-carbohydrate diets have been shown to lower blood levels of carbon dioxide .

Ideally, we should study this further by determining whether dietary carbohydrate affects the amount of activated vitamin K-dependent proteins in humans.

We also produce more carbon dioxide when we burn more calories, regardless of whether we are burning carbohydrate or fat. Intense exercise more than doubles the amount of carbon dioxide we produce compared to what we produce when at rest.27 Even working at a standing desk rather than a sitting desk increases both calories burned and carbon dioxide generated by about a third .

Future studies should directly investigate whether exercise increases the activation of vitamin K-dependent proteins, but it seems reasonable to suggest that part of the reason exercise promotes cardiovascular health may be because it ensures a more abundant supply of carbon dioxide, which vitamin K uses to activate proteins that protect our heart valves and blood vessels from calcification. Thyroid hormone is a key regulator of the metabolic rate and may thus be a major determinant of the carbon dioxide available for activating vitamin K-dependent proteins. Theoretically, thyroid hormone should increase the rate of metabolism and a greater rate of metabolism should produce a proportionally greater supply of carbon dioxide.

Thyroid hormone directly increases the production of vitamin K-dependent proteins and protects blood vessels from calcification in rats.29 The reason for this relationship is unclear. We could speculate, however, that our bodies in their infinite wisdom use thyroid hormone to tie the production of vitamin K-dependent proteins to the production the carbon dioxide needed to activate them.

The Big Picture

It is clearly time to move beyond viewing each vitamin in isolation. The fat-soluble vitamins not only synergize with each other, but cooperate with many other nutrients and metabolic factors such as magnesium, zinc, fat, carbohydrate, carbon dioxide and thyroid hormone.

This paradigm has two important implications. At the level of scientific research, a study about one vitamin can easily come to false conclusions unless it takes into account its interactions with all the others. We should reverently and humbly bow before the complexity of these interactions, realizing how little we know and recognizing that we are always learning. At the level of personal health, these interactions emphasize the need to consume a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet. Supplementation with an individual vitamin runs the risk of throwing it out of balance with its synergistic partners. The fat-soluble vitamins work most safely and effectively when we obtain them from natural foods within the context of a diet rich in all their synergistic partners.

Zinc and the Dark Adaptation Test for Vitamin A Deficiency

The role of vitamin A in vision is unusual. This vitamin carries out most of its known actions by regulating the expression of specific sets of genes. Vitamin A regulates gene expression only after being activated in a two-step process from retinol to retinal, and finally to retinoic acid. Vitamin A supports vision, however, in its semi-activated form as retinal. Retinal binds to a protein known as opsin, forming a vitamin-protein complex known as rhodopsin. Each photon of light that enters our eye and collides with rhodopsin causes the retinal to change shape and release itself from the complex. This event then translates into an electrical impulse that our optic nerve transmits to our brain. The brain synthesizes myriad such electrical impulses at every moment and interprets them as vision.30

While the function of opsin is to help generate visual images by binding and releasing vitamin A, opsin can only maintain its proper shape and function when it is bound to zinc. In addition, zinc supports the conversion of retinol to retinal, the form of vitamin A that binds to opsin. We could predict, then, that vitamin A would only be able to support vision in the presence of adequate zinc. This can be studied by determining dark adaptation thresholds, which determine the dimmest spots of light we are able to see after having spent a period of time in the dark to maximize our visual sensitivity. When vitamin A is insufficient, we lose the ability to see the dimmer spots of light.

Robert Russell of Tufts University studied ten patients with deficient blood levels of vitamin A who also failed the dark-adaptation test. Eight of them achieved normal dark-adaptation thresholds after supplementing with 10,000 international units of vitamin A for two to four weeks. Two of them, however, had deficient blood levels of zinc. Vitamin A supplementation alone failed to normalize their visual function, but adding 220 milligrams per day of zinc to the regimen for two weeks brought it back to normal.16 These results show that vitamin A can only support healthy vision with the direct assistance of zinc.

Source: mercola.com