As promised many moons ago, here is the summary of the talk by Kate Rheaume-Bleue, N.D. from the Weston A. Price Wise Traditions Conference, held in Atlanta in November. (And, if you don’t remember, rather than type her longish name out a million times, I’m calling her R-B.)
Let me start by saying that R-B is a fabulous presenter, one of the best I’ve seen. Her material was compelling in its own right, but she organized her presentation remarkably well and she is just a really gifted speaker. If you get the chance to hear her, don’t miss it.
- Our fat-phobic society has stripped our diets of animal fat, and with it, the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K).
- Recognizing that deficiencies in these vitamins might be problematic, we have responded by swallowing down supplements, or enriching our food with them. (I’m mainly talking Vitamin D here.)
- But, in nature, the fat-soluble vitamins seem to work synergistically, and by removing and then trying to replace them via supplementation, we’ve possibly caused ourselves harm.
R-B began her presentation by presenting the “Calcium Paradox.” “How can we safely use calcium in our bodies?” she asked as a foundational question. The Calcium Paradox is that we often experience a lack of calcium where we need it (i.e., bones and teeth) and a buildup of it where we don’t need it (i.e., blood vessels.)
Minerals, she explained, are not dynamic on their own. (Calcium is a mineral, remember?) Fat-soluble vitamins guide them around the body.
Why do we “calcify?” she continued. Why do our arteries harden with calcium buildup? R-B contends that our bodies are actually supersaturated with calcium. Vitamin A, a fat-soluble, inhibits the calcification of soft tissues. In other words, without Vitamin A, the calcium in our bodies goes into our soft tissues, like blood vessels, and hardens them. But Vitamin A cannot get into all the places it needs to go, so there are tissues left at risk.
Lucky for us, there are other “calcium inhibitors,” but, many of them require Vitamin K2 to be activated. For example, Matrix gla protein is a strong inhibitor of tissue calcification, but it cannot function optimally without the presence of K2.
R-B outlined some “misconceptions” of Vitamin K:
- Some believe that K1 and K2 play the same role in the body, and thus one need only consume leafy green veggies to satisfy this need. These vitamins play different roles.
- One myth is that Vitamin K only contributes to the blood clotting function. That is incorrect as we have already seen.
- It is believed that Vitamin K deficiency is rare. While that is true for K1 because of the way that our bodies use it, that is not true for K2. Our bodies has no recycling mechanism for K2 and it is believed one can become deficient in as little as a week.
- Only 5% of K1 in food is absorbed. For K2 it’s 95%.
- We convert K1 to K2 weakly. Of the K1 we absorb, only 5-25% is converted to K2.
- Thus, K2 is an essential nutrient.
Some animals convert K1 to K2 more efficiently and effectively than humans. When these animals eat grass, they convert K1 to K2 and then when we consume their dairy, egg yolks and organs, we benefit from that effective conversion. Many fermented foods also produce K2, such as natto.
Why does K2 matter? R-B outlined this:
- In the Rotterdam study, it was established that subjects with higher levels of K2 had lower rates of cardiovascular disease and lower mortality from all causes. K1 levels had no effect.
- K2 improves plaque stability in blood vessels. It prevents the oxidative damage that occurs when an area is deprived of blood.
- K2 improves arterial elasticity.
- The “narrow face” that Dr. Weston A. Price observed in industrialized cultures is almost totally governed by K2 during fetal development. If K2 is lacking at a key time in a woman’s pregnancy, key facial structures calcify prematurely. R-B does note that a K2-rich diet can help widen those structures after the child is born as s/he continues to grow. (Side note: I am obsessed with the shape of my children’s faces.)
- K2 is vital for the structure of the teeth. Women who eat more cheese bear children with fewer cavities.
- K2 inhibits the cells that break down bones. Whereas Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium, K2 puts it where it’s supposed to be.
- Vitamin K2 is crucial during menopause, as cultures where its consumption is higher don’t face post-menopausal osteoporosis like ours does. When estrogen levels drop, bone breakdown cells increase their activity in three ways. K2 counteracts each of these three mechanisms.
- K2 has anti-wrinkle, pro-elasticity properties.
- Varicose veins can occur when calcium builds in vessels and veins. K2 can help reverse them.
- K2 moves minerals for tooth-building from the saliva into the teeth.
Are you sold yet? Wondering how to incorporate this vitally important nutrient in your diet?
The MK4 form is present in animal foods while MK7 is found in fermented foods.
And, here is an online version of the chart R-B used in her presentation which lists the most K2-rich foods.
Now, if your head is swimming and if you are convinced that this is important but still not sure why, I have two options for you.
First, you can check out this 2012 interview that Jenny of Nourished Kitchen did with R-B. It’s conversational and yet full of great information. It will fill out much of what I outlined above.
Of, if you’re really digging all this, [amazon_link id=”0062320041″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]read her book[/amazon_link]!
After hearing her speak, I have worked intentionally to up my family’s intake of K2. Let me know if you make changes.
(One change that I made about two years ago, was to incorporate Fermented Cod Liver Oil / Butter Oil blend into my daily routine. This “whole food supplement” offers up fat-soluble vitamins in a synergistic way. My kids will eat the cinnamon and chocolate versions.)