Last week there was a topic on Dutch television about anti-aging and supplements. I believe food should always be our priority when it comes to getting in those necessary vitamins and minerals. However, vitamin K2 as a supplement was mentioned and a lot of people ran to the store to get a bottle of this magic rejuvenating vitamin or emailed me with the question: Is vitamin K2 the next hottest supplement to take?
The topic on the Dutch television was about anti aging which in my world means preventing diseases and staying healthy. It’s so much more than about avoiding wrinkles, for example it’s about keeping your arteries supple to prevent a heart attack. What good is a face without wrinkles when you are sick or dead, right?
When it comes to supplements and preventing diseases there are a few things you should keep in mind. No laboratory can mimic nature. Period. And when you don’t know what kind of supplement and how much of the specific supplement you should take, it can do more harm than good. Of course there are specific cases where supplements are a great addition to improve your health.
Generally, I’m not a big fan of supplements. I do take a few supplements, but I prefer to get my nutrients from food.
Is vitamin K2 an exception?
Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin that is not found in leafy greens. Keep in mind that vitamin K1 is different and mainly responsible for blood clotting. So K1 serves a different function than K2. Also, a significant amount of the K1 we get from greens isn’t used by the body. However, the percentage is increased when we add fats/oils. That’s why we add a nice vinaigrette or dressing to our salad. K1 can be converted to K2 by the bacteria in our gut but that’s usually a challenge for us who had to take antibiotics (even years ago) or actually for all of us living in a world with lots of processed food. Also the fact that we keep our food in the fridge/freezer plays a role.
When you need it, vitamin D3 is a great and important supplement, especially during a long and cold winter. Vitamin D3 only helps to increase the absorption of calcium, but it doesn’t direct where calcium should be deposited. So if you need a good amount of vitamin D you can end up with kidney stones and stiff arthritic joints because the calcium is being stored in the incorrect places. Then you are most likely deficient in vitamin K.
Vitamin K2 first job is to regulate calcium in the body. It puts calcium where it should be (teeth and bones) and takes it out of places it shouldn’t be such as your arteries, kidneys and tissue. This was the elusive “X factor” that Dr. Weston A. Price said was present in the diets of healthy cultures around the world (in combination with vitamin A and D).
Why should calcium be regulated in the body?
There are a few reasons.
- In a Dutch study (known as the Rotterdam Study), men with the highest vitamin K2 consumption had a 51% lower risk of heart attack mortality and a 26% lower risk of death from all causes compared to men consuming the least vitamin K2 (!)
- The Japanese have approved vitamin K2 for the treatment of osteoporosis. A vitamin K2 treatment has been shown to inhibit the occurrence of new bone fractures and to maintain bone density mass.
As you can tell, vitamin K2 is putting calcium where it should be (the teeth and bones), which is very vital for those with osteoporosis.
Vitamin K2 is also great for teeth (because of the calcium reason just mentioned), but also because it can reduce plaque build up.
It seems there are some great anti aging benefits too.
“When it comes to skin, it seems that a K2 deficiency might be written all over your face”. –Kate Rheaume-Bleue, author of the Calcium Paradox
There is a strong association between excessive skin wrinkling and vitamin K2 deficiency. In fact, the severity of a postmenopausal woman’s facial wrinkles can predict her risk of developing osteoporosis. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why Japanese women (with high blood levels of vitamin K2) have less wrinkles and less sagging skin…. How come? Well, vitamin K2 helps to maintain the integrity of the tiny blood capillaries that feed the skin and vitamin K2 plays a vital role in the health of all blood vessels.
Vitamin K2 is the first supplement whose rejuvenating properties are scientifically proven. It’s safe to say that vitamin K2 rejuvenates the blood vessels.
The elasticity of the vessels increase slightly which is pretty groundbreaking. Since vitamin K2 brings calcium to the right places (it balances calcium) you will age less fast. Why? A disordered calcium balance accelerates the aging of your skin, including the calcification of elastin fibers. And it’s those elastin fibers that keeps your skin supple.
Where to find vitamin K2?
Like I said the number one source for vitamins and minerals should be your food. A plant-based source of vitamin K2 is nattō, but honestly I can’t appreciate the taste very much. Or is the smell….?
Nattō is a Japanese dish that is actually no more than fermented soybeans (hence the smell). The smell and taste is so strong that some restaurants have a “Nattō Only” section for those diners that chose to order nattō. It’s slimy, stringy and I can’t stand the smell. (Side note, fermented soy is safe and not the same as unfermented soy products). Nattō has some great nutritional benefits and it is the highest dietary source of vitamin K2 with 775 mcg (!) per 100 gram serving. Certain areas of Japan consume nattō daily at breakfast and this country has the highest longevity rate in the world. The problem is, most of us are like me, they won’t eat nattō that often (or ever).
Other vitamin K2 sources are not plant-based such as aged and curd cheeses (Gouda has the highest content of vitamin K2 with approximately 20 mcg per ounce). Switzerland, where they are quite a fan of dairy and cheese, ends up pretty high in the longevity rate in the world. Other non plant-based sources are egg yolks, butter, organ meats, and dark chicken meat. However, you really need to find the best, pastured-raised, organic and properly fed animals to get enough vitamin K2.
As a true healthy plant-based foodie I don’t eat animal products because the consequences are too high for my health.
Should I get a bottle of vitamin K2?
Even if you are not a plant-based foodie, how often can you get the super high quality foods (like I just mentioned) to enjoy all the vitamin K2 benefits? Also, our food (soil) is not as rich in vitamins and minerals as it was let’s say a century ago. And, since vitamin K2 is made by bacteria you would have to keep those products out of the fridge/freezer since the fridge will make these K2 forming bacteria inactive. So supplementing might be a good idea for some people.
I have a bottle in my kitchen, which I take once in a while for a few weeks (I often forget about it). When I take this supplement regularly my skin is like butter, it’s important for my calcium and vitamin D balance and I know from experience that my teeth are so much smoother with this nutrient.
I like the brand Jarrow, however this is a personal choice and I’m not a doctor 😉
How about you? Do you supplement with vitamin K2 or do you rather eat foods that are high in vitamin K2?
- Suttie JW. Vitamin K. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:851-60.
- European Food Safety Authority. Scientific opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to vitamin K and maintenance of bone pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. The EFSA Journal 2009;7:1228.
- Shea MK, O’Donnell CJ, Hoffmann U, Dallal GE, Dawson-Hughes B, Ordovas JM, et al. Vitamin K supplementation and progression of coronary artery calcium in older men and women. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89:1799-807. [PubMed abstract]
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