If you’ve followed my posts, you’ll know that I think we grossly over-consume calcium at the risk of our health and I am a huge proponent of increased intake of vitamin D for almost everyone.
Now I’m adding a new element to the mix: Vitamin K.
Dr. Robert Thompson and I wrote extensively about calcium and the problems with current medical advice encouraging high consumption in The Calcium Lie II: What Your Doctor Still Doesn’t Know: How Mineral Imbalances Are Damaging Your Health.
And due to the weather keeping most of us inside, I am willing to bet almost all of us are deficient in vitamin D, which is less a vitamin than a hormone manufactured when skin is exposed to direct sunlight.
Now enter vitamin K.
If you think of vitamin K as the anti-clottiing vitamin present in spinach and other dark green veggies, you’d be right. But there is so much more to this little vitamin that is only now beginning to unfold.
Dr. Cees Vermeer, a Dutchman who has conducted pivotal research on vitamin K, says most of us may be getting just enough vitamin K to maintain proper blood clotting, we’re not getting enough of this essential vitamin to take advantage of its protective properties against:
• Cognitive dysfunction (including dementia)
• Hardening of the arteries and other forms of cardiovascular disease
• Several types of cancer, including prostate, lung liver and leukemia
• Infectious diseases, including pneumonia
Here’s just a fraction of latest vitamin K research on heart disease:
• A 2004 Dutch study showed that people with the highest K2 levels cut their risk of death from heart disease in half over those with the lowest K2 intake.
• In a 10-year 16,000-person study known as the Prospect study, researchers found that every additional 10 mcg of K2 in subjects’ diets reduced their risk of cardiac events by 9 percent.
• Animal studies have shown that K2 prevents arterial calcification and can actually reverse the condition, even in advanced states.
We get vitamin K from dark green vegetables. Kale, collard greens and spinach contain by far the highest levels of vitamin K, followed by other types of greens, broccoli, onions, parsley and cilantro. Strangely enough, for the vitamin K in greens to be biologically available to your body, your greens should be boiled so the cell walls are broken down. For example, boiled spinach has seven times the vitamin K as raw spinach.
Vitamin K is fat soluble, meaning it’s a good idea to put a little oil in your boiled greens. (I won’t recommend bacon, although it certainly is tempting!)
A second type of vitamin K, known as K2 and sometimes as MK-7 is present is large quantities in the bacteria found in the human digestive tract.
Recent research shows that K2, the type used in most supplements, actually directs calcium to your bones rather than depositing it where you don’t want it: arteries, organs and joint spaces.
K2, the kind found in most supplements, is found in a fermented Japanese soy product called natto. If you can’t take the slimy smelly nature of natto. Just get it in a K2 capsule.
Don’t use K3, which is a synthetic and may be harmful.
Natural health guru Dr. Joe Mercola calls vitamin D the “gatekeeper” in terms of getting proper nutrients to your bones and he calls vitamin K “the traffic cop directing traffic to where it needs to go.”
“Lots of traffic, but no traffic cop, means clogging, crowding and chaos everywhere!” says Mercola.
It’s nor surprising that most of us don’t get enough of the right kind of vitamin D for optimal health, vitamin K2.
Modern medicine will tell us that very few people are deficient in vitamin K, but that is patently untrue. As Dr. Vermeer says, we may be getting the minimal amount necessary to keep blood clotting at proper levels, but not enough to prevent the serious diseases mentioned above.
The government recommends 120 micrograms a day for men and 90 mcg for women. Dr. Vermeer recommends 185 mcg daily for adults for optimal vitamin K levels.