Friday, May 25, 2018




by  Karlene  Karst, R.D.

Healthful Oils for Cooking and Garnishing

The A to Z of Cooking with Fats and Oils

One of the most important considerations is how to use healthful oils to maximize their goodness. Despite the multitude of oils currently on the market, unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all policy does not apply to any one cooking oil. When you can, buy organic, expeller-pressed, unrefined oils and store them properly (I cover the storage of oils in more detail at the end of this chapter). Fats and oils have different properties, such as smoke point, taste, and fatty-acid profile, making each individual fat and oil suitable for different cooking applications.


Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a heavy oil that is colorless when heated (white at room temperature) with a slight hint of coconut flavor. Despite its high levels of saturated fats, the health benefits of this wonder oil have been well established. Coconut oil has been shown to exert beneficial effects on heart health, increase metabolism and weight loss, and boost your immune system, to name a few.

Smoke Point: 350°F / 177°C

Best Applications: Coconut oil can be used for medium-high-heat cooking and is especially great when used to cook pancakes, saute veggies, and cook fish, especially halibut and shrimp. Coconut oil is also used in baking and as a "better butter" spread on toast and muffins (please see page 10 in chapter 1 for the recipe). It's also great on popcorn!

The Truth about Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has quickly become one of my favorite fats, which is why I feel it deserves a bit more attention in this chapter. I started applying it liberally to my "baby bump" when I was pregnant with my first son. It is such a soothing and moisturizing fat, and I believe it helped to nourish and protect my skin from stretch marks. I especially love the coconut-based body care line Fiji Organics. This was also the time when I started to incorporate coconut oil into my cooking, and my kids know that when the coconut oil comes out first thing in the morning, they are getting homemade whole-wheat waffles. Coconut oil is also delicious to use when cooking halibut or other white fish …. and stir-fried Asian veggies, and as a topping for popcorn. My new cookbook, The Full-Fat Solution Recipe Book,uses coconut oil in many of the recipes.

In many parts of the world, the coconut tree and its products have for centuries been an integral part of life, and it has come to be called the "Tree of Life." However, in the last few decades, the relationship between coconut fats and health has been the subject of much debate and misinformation. Unfortunately, coconut oil has been wrongly branded as a nutritional evil for many years. As previously mentioned, it is a medium-chain fat that is easily digested and used by the body. In short, whereas other fats are stored in the body's cells, the medium-chain fats in coconut oil are sent directly to the liver, where they are immediately converted into energy. So, when you eat coconut oil, your body uses it immediately to make energy rather than store it as body fat. Because this quick-and-easy absorption puts less strain on the pancreas, liver, and digestive system, coconut oil heats up the metabolic system. Dr. Joseph Mercola suggests that since coconut oil actually speeds up metabolism, your body will burn more calories in a day—this will contribute to weight loss, and you'll have more energy.

Experts in the field of fat and nutrition show that virgin coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a proven antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal agent that is very beneficial in attacking viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens and builds the body's immune system.

In the 1960s, data collected from research was misinterpreted, concluding that coconut oil raised blood cholesterol levels. In fact, it was the omission of essential fatty acids in the diet that caused the observed health problems, not the inclusion of the coconut oil. More recently, subject groups studied in the South Pacific for their regular use of coconut oil in the diet exhibited low incidences of coronary artery disease and low serum cholesterol levels.9 A study in Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011 reviewed the beneficial lipid effects in 1,839 premenopausal women in the Philippines. The researchers found that dietary coconut oil intake was positively associated with high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, especially among premenopausal women, suggesting that coconut oil intake is associated with beneficial lipid profiles. It was not significantly associated with low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol or triglyceride values.10 Little or no change is evident in cholesterol levels when an EFA-rich diet contains nonhydrogenated saturated fats. Coconut oil is naturally saturated, so it does not need to go through hydrogenation.

How to Store Good Oils
Healthful oils are essenrial to our health, but they are more temperamental than the inferior oils you see on the supermarket shelves. Light, air, and heat can destroy them. Nature packages these oils in seeds, and left intact, these oils will sometimes keep for years without spoiling.

When we extract the oil from such seeds, we need to make sure the oil is shielded from the destructive elements before pressing and until the oil is opened. Special care needs to be taken in processing, packaging, and storing oils rich in essential fats to prevent the oil from turning rancid. Rancid oil has a scratchy, bitter, fishy, or paint-like taste, and may be accompanied by a characteristic unpleasant smell. When oil has turned rancid, dozens of by-products form, with toxic or unknown effects on our bodies' functions. In fact, rancid oils, if consumed, have been associated with negative health effects such as arterial damage, inflammation, certain forms of cancer, and premature aging. It is, therefore, imperative that cooking oils are properly stored to minimize exposure to these negative factors. Below are general guidelines to maximize shelf life and overall quality of your cooking fats and oils:

Choose fresh EFA-rich oils that have been pressed and packaged in the dark, in the absence of oxygen, and with minimal heat, and packaged in opaque bottles.

At home, once you have opened a bottle of good oil, it should be stored in the refrigerator to protect it from turning rancid. 

Refrigerated oils will generally turn cloudy when cold; however, simply remove the oil an hour or two prior to use and it will return to its original liquid state. 

If refrigeration is not possible, store all oils in a cool-cold, dry, dark place (not a warm pantry!).

Prior to opening, the oil is safe in a bottle on a shelf at room temperature; this is because during the packaging process, the oil was packaged in the absence of the destructive elements and then sealed tightly.

Be sure to keep your healthful oils away from the stove, and do not leave them on top of the fridge or microwave.

With regards to butter, store unused portions in the freezer as butter will maintain its quality only for approximately two weeks in the refrigerator.

Keep in mind that darker-colored oils will go rancid more quickly than lighter-colored oils.

Unrefined oils will generally keep for three to six months once opened if properly stored in a cool, dark location.

Refined oils will keep twice as long as unrefined oils— generally six to twelve months once opened when stored in a cool, dark location.

Oils high in polyunsaturated fats have a shorter shelf life than oils high in monounsaturated or saturated fats.

Unopened cooking oils generally have a shelf life of one year if properly stored in a cool, dark, dry place.

There are many quality brands in both Canada and the United States that have been pressed and packaged using these exacting procedures. (Please see the resources section on page 193.)

What You Have Learned in This Chapter
Not all oils are created equally. When selecting an oil, consider the application and smoke point.
Coconut oil is an excellent option for cooking and body care.
How to store good oils to keep them fresh and preserve their quality.

Sunday, May 20, 2018






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Saturday, May 19, 2018



The little-known vitamin with big benefits

Are you concerned about osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes? Are you taking calcium or vitamin D? Have you heard conflicting reports about the safety of calcium supplements? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this booklet is for you. From bone loss and arterial plaque to premature aging and varicose veins, vitamin K2 may be a missing piece to the puzzle of many common ailments.
This handy little booklet explains:

What vitamin K2 is, and the essential difference between Kj and K2

Why deficiencies of this important nutrient have become widespread

The many health benefits of vitamin K2

What foods contain vitamin K2 - or used to!

How to pick an effective vitamin K2 supplement

Why vitamin K2 is critical if you're taking calcium

Keeping Calcium in its Place
Understanding the importance of vitamin K2
Kate Rheaume-Bleue, ND

Are you concerned about bone health, heart health, cancer, or diabetes? Have you been taking calcium or vitamin D? Have you heard conflicting news reports about the safety of calcium supplements? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this booklet is for you. It will introduce you to vitamin K2, a little-known vitamin with big health benefits.

A new vitamin?

It's not every day you hear of a new vitamin. In fact, it has been decades since anyone "discovered" or identified a novel nutrient with health benefits as profound as vitamin K2. With so much health information (and dis-information) available today, it's easy to become overwhelmed or skeptical when it comes to the latest, greatest super-nutrient.

But vitamin K2 is different. This nutrient was once abundant in our diets, protecting us from heart attack, stroke, brittle bones, cancer, and a myriad of other now-all-too-common ailments.

Vitamin K2 is a nutrient that offers significant health benefits and yet was overlooked for almost 70 years due to a case of mistaken identity. It provides a missing piece to the nutritional puzzle of ailments such as osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, varicose veins, diabetes, arthritis, and others. In the following pages you will learn what vitamin K2 is, what it does in the body, how it has all but vanished from our diets, and how we can get it back, as well as how much you need for optimal health, and what to look for in a vitamin K2 supplement.

My book Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life (Wiley & Sons, 2012) provides comprehensive coverage of every thing you need to know about vitamin K2, including the broad range of benefits possible with vitamin K2 and a complete list of scientific references supporting the data. You will find some of those references at the back of this booklet.
Kate Rheaume-Bleue, ND March 2013


For years nutritionists, dieticians, and medical professionals alike have emphasized dietary calcium intake and calcium supplements (along with vitamin D) as the key to strong bones.

Several recent studies have shown that people who take calcium supplements experience significantly more heart attacks and strokes than those who don't. It turns out that a portion of the calcium not taken up by bones ends up lining the arteries, leading to hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis (heart disease). However, simply giving up calcium supplements may be shortsighted, since heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women whether or not they take calcium supplements. In other words, calcium can get into the wrong places and cause harm in anyone... but it's not calcium's fault! And calcium is an essential nutrient for healthy teeth and bones.

Looking only at calcium intake, we would never understand why calcium is misdirected from the bones and ends up in the arteries instead. How can we get calcium to go where it's needed? What keeps calcium in its place?
We are not powerless in the face of this calcium conundrum. The body has ways of dealing with this mineral and keeping it where it belongs. North Americans didn't always suffer from heart disease and hip fractures to the extent that we do today. Some developed countries don't have anywhere near the rates of heart attack, stroke or osteoporosis that we have in North America. How is it that the citizens of countries like France and Japan have escaped this calcium conundrum?

As you will see, the diets in those countries, and others, provide high levels of the one nutrient that tells calcium where to go: vitamin K2.


Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is a fat-soluble nutrient that works with vitamin D to guide calcium into bones and teeth and, more importantly, helps keep calcium out of soft tissues like arteries. It also activates special proteins that have powerful cancer-fighting abilities. If you take vitamin D you may see even greater benefits when you supplement with vitamin K2.
How much vitamin K2 are we getting in our daily diet? The short answer is "not enough". Research in 2007 showed that most apparently healthy adults do not have enough dietary vitamin K2 to fully meet their body's requirement for this nutrient. When there isn't enough vitamin K2 to keep calcium in its place all the time, it opens the door to increased risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer, and a number of other serious health conditions. Alternately, having adequate vitamin K2 intake protects us against all of those health problems and more. But more on that later. Let's take a look at why vitamin K2 was overlooked for so long.

Vitamin K1 versus K2

If you are wondering why you haven't heard about vitamin K2 until now, it's because it was overlooked for decades and is still often misunderstood. Another form of vitamin K, vitamin K1 (phylloquinone), stole the spotlight. The body uses vitamin K1 for blood clotting and it is easily obtained in our diets by eating green leafy vegetables. Vitamin K1 is so important for coagulation that the body has a special mechanism to reuse vitamin K1. That means if you only eat green leafy vegetables once in a blue moon, the body can always find and recycle enough K: to ensure proper blood clotting. A deficiency of vitamin K1 is extremely rare. When it does occur, usually as a result of liver disease or some other serious illness, the symptoms of K1 insufficiency are obvious: bruising and bleeding. The vitamin K1 recycling mechanism is so efficient that you can afford to take this nutrient for granted; we don't have to worry about our intake of K1, and there is no need for supplementation. This is not the case with vitamin K2.

Vitamins K1 and K2 were both discovered in the 1930s and at the time researchers assumed they were both blood-clotting vitamins. That assumption caused vitamin K2 to be ignored for more than two generations.

We eventually learned that vitamin K2 does not come from green leafy vegetables, does not participate in blood clotting and it is not recycled in the body. Studies show that without vitamin K2 in our diets on a daily basis, we can become deficient in this nutrient in as little as one week. Furthermore, the symptoms of vitamin K2 deficiency are not obvious because they are, for the most part, internal. A lack of vitamin K2, even a marginal deficiency, can permit osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer to quietly creep up on us.

It was long presumed that vitamin K1 was the more important of these sibling nutrients, since vitamin K1 is present in much higher amounts in our diet. In fact, although vitamin K1 is more abundant in foods, we only absorb 5-10% of what we ingest. On the other hand, while vitamin K2 is less plentiful in the diet, we absorb almost 100% of what we consume. That makes the dietary contribution from vitamins K1 and K2 about equal. The difference is that we have a back up mechanism to prevent
vitamin K1 deficiency that doesn't exist for vitamin K2, so we need to be more mindful of our vitamin K2 intake.

When we consume the pro-coagulant vitamin K1 from vegetables it is transported from the intestines to the liver, where it aids the body's coagulation mechanisms. Calcium-controlling vitamin K2 from foods is also transported to the liver after absorption, but is not destined to stay there. Instead, it is packaged up and sent back out into circulation so it can reach the heart, brain, bones, and other tissues where it facilitates healing. Below is a chart that compares these two nutrients at a glance. 

Understanding the difference between them will help you ensure you are getting the right kind of vitamin K in your diet and supplements.
Vitamin K,1 vs. vitamin K2

K, (phylloquinone)
K2 (menaquinone)
Physiological action
Blood clotting
Appropriate calcification
Food sources
Green leafy vegetables
Natto (fermented soybeans), goose liver, certain cheeses, egg yolks and dairy product from grass-fed animals
Can be recycled by the body
Yes (so dietary requirements are minimal)
No (so dietary intake is crucial)
Very rare, leads to bleeding
Common - manifests as osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, varicose veins, etc.
Ability to build bone and fight heart disease
'Adapted from: Rheaume-BIeue, K. Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life. Wiley & Sons, 2012.

Now you know that vitamin K2 doesn't participate in coagulation. Instead, it ushers calcium into the right places and out of the wrong places. This makes it especially helpful for bone health, heart health and, surprisingly, cancer prevention. We'll examine each of these major benefits individually.

Bone health

While your skeleton seems solid and unchanging, bones are in fact constantly being broken down and rebuilt (a process called remodeling) to maintain strong, healthy bone tissue. If, over time, the breaking down process exceeds the rate of rebuilding, bones lose their density, becoming
more porous, brittle and prone to breaking, a condition known as osteoporosis. Up to 50% of women and 30% of men experience fractures due to osteoporosis. You may not realize it, but this is a significant cause of death, since many people die due to complications following a fracture. Many of those who survive bone fractures never again live or walk independently. Osteoporosis prevention is therefore extremely important.
For years the standard non-prescription recommendation for osteoporosis prevention and treatment began and ended with calcium and vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D absolutely help increase bone density, but not always as much as we'd like. The recommended dose of calcium has gradually increased to 1200,1500 and even 2000 mg daily. These huge doses of calcium are based on the idea that, if a little is good then more is better. Based on that logic, if we just took enough calcium it would cure osteoporosis. But it doesn't work that way. Merely taking calcium, with or without vitamin D, provides no guarantee that the mineral is getting into our bones and staying there. Keeping calcium in our bones is the job of vitamin K2.

Vitamin K2 boosts bone health in a number of ways. Very simply, it activates a protein called osteocalcin that takes dietary calcium and guides it into bones and teeth to improve bone mineral density (BMD).

Studies show vitamins K2 and D3 together increase BMD far better than either nutrient alone. But the bone benefits of vitamin K2 go beyond its effect on bone density. BMD is only one aspect of bone health, although it's the one that gets the most attention. Vitamin K2's ability to improve bone quality and strength, and reduce fracture risk, is significantly greater than its impact on BMD.

Osteoporosis becomes a greater concern for women after menopause. The natural decline of estrogen can negatively impact bone strength in multiple ways. Vitamin K2 has been shown to fight osteoporosis by counteracting these changes in bone health. In areas where vitamin K2 consumption is high (in certain regions of Japan, for example) osteoporosis is uncommon and women experience far fewer bone fractures. In other words, osteoporosis is not inevitable.

For women, increasing vitamin K2 intake and/or taking a vitamin K2 supplement is extremely important as menopause approaches, to help prevent the onset of bone loss. That being said, many women only learn about vitamin K2 later in life, when osteopenia (mild or pre-osteoporosis) or even more severe bone loss has already set in. Even then, it's not too late to benefit from vitamin K2.

How quickly improved bone health occurs after increasing vitamin K2 intake varies from person to person. The most recent clinical trials show that the maximum benefits for bone and heart health are seen within 2-3 years. That may sound like a long time, but keep in mind that osteoporosis and heart disease don't develop overnight. It took decades of K2 deficiency for calcium to leech out of bones and build up in arteries. A significant improvement within 2-3 years is worth waiting for.

Heart health

For years the major focus of cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment has revolved around cholesterol. People are encouraged to eat foods with no or low cholesterol, to have their cholesterol levels tested, and to take medications to reduce it, if necessary. Given this cholesterol fixation, it might surprise you to learn that 50% of people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels. How can that be?

It turns out that whether cholesterol is high, low, or normal, what actually clogs arteries is calcium-laden arterial plaque.

Calcium has the potential to accumulate on the inner walls of arteries in a process called atherosclerosis or "hardening of the arteries". This can eventually cause a blockage in one or more of the arteries that provide blood to the heart, resulting in a heart attack. If the blockage happens in the brain, the result is a stroke. The amount of calcium found in arteries is directly proportional to the amount of arterial blockage - and to the risk of suffering a heart attack. While recent studies point the finger at calcium supplements as a factor in heart attack and stroke, the fact is that heart disease is the number one cause of death for people who don't take calcium supplements too. That means we all need to do what we can to keep calcium out of our arteries, and abandoning calcium supplements provides no assurance of clear arteries.

Cleaning up arterial calcium

The body has a number of safeguards to prevent and reverse hardening of the arteries. Of these mechanisms, scientists agree that one is particularly important and powerful. It involves a vitamin-K2-dependent protein called MGP (matrix gla protein). MGP is produced in soft tissues, such as
blood vessels, but it remains inactive until vitamin K2 arrives to switch it on. Once activated by vitamin K2, MGP will scour blood vessels of calcium deposits.

Vitamin-K2-activated MGP removes calcium from areas where calcium is not supposed to be, such as arteries, veins, and other soft tissues. 
Reversing heart disease may sound incredible, but the body has always had the means to prevent and reverse the build up of arterial plaque; it just needs certain nutrients (notably vitamin K2) to do it. The scarcity of vitamin K2 in our modern diets is one of the reasons heart disease - which used to be rare and is still much less common in some countries - has become the leading killer of men and women in North America.

Vitamin K2 has been shown to reduce arterial calcification and improve blood vessel flexibility. This effect is seen not just in the coronary arteries that feed the heart itself, but also in the aorta, the heart valves, and just about every other blood vessel in the body.

Cancer protection

Vitamin K2 activates a third protein, "growth arrest sequence-6 protein" or Gas6, which regulates cell growth. This makes K2 a powerful ally in preventing and defeating cancer. Studies show K2 encourages cancer cells to die or differentiate into normal, healthy, non-cancerous cell types. For this reason K2 has important anti-cancer effects throughout the body.
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) study followed 24,000 men and women over ten years to determine risk factors for cancer. It found that people with the highest intake of vitamin K2 had a 30% lower rate of cancer, and death from cancer, than people with low K2 intakes. This was especially true for lung and prostate cancer, the two biggest cancer killers of men. The study found that the greatest dietary source of vitamin K2 in the European diet was cheese, and that cheese consumption had a significant impact on cancer prevention.

Multiple studies demonstrate the importance of K2 for different kinds of cancer. Vitamin K2 has been shown to delay the onset of liver cancer in people with hepatitis and has a positive impact on leukemia. Further studies show K2 combats cancer in the colon, stomach, brain, breast, nose, throat, and mouth.

The most important new theory of aging is called the triage theory. It suggests that when dietary availability of a vitamin or mineral is moderately inadequate, nature will ensure that essential short-term survival body functions are protected, at the expense of long-term needs, such as prevention of aging. In other words, if we are even slightly lacking in nutrient intake we might not notice it today, but we'll pay for it in the future in terms of having more age-related complaints. An optimal daily intake of dietary nutrients, therefore, is one that meets our needs not just for today but for a lifetime.

While the triage theory does not imply that any one vitamin or mineral deficiency is the cause of age-related disease, the theory's authors did test their theory by examining vitamin K. Simply put, short-term inadequacy of K vitamins has been shown to have long-term health consequences. Since we know that vitamin Kj deficiency is rare due to recycling, that leaves adequate vitamin K2 intake as the critical factor in preventing such ravages of time as osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, and even wrinkles.

Brain and neurological health

The brain contains one of the highest concentrations of vitamin K2 in the body and this nutrient plays several important roles in the health of the brain and nervous system. For example, vitamin K2 has been shown to prevent brain damage associated with lack of oxygen. If brain cells are deprived of oxygen for any reason, they can be permanently damaged. This can happen in conditions such as strokes and TIAs (transient ischemic attacks or recurrent "mini-strokes"). If oxygen supply to the brain is interrupted during birth, this can lead to cerebral palsy, with lifelong consequences. Fat-soluble-vitamin research states that taking vitamin K2 during pregnancy could prevent cerebral palsy. Similarly, vitamin K2 can potentially buffer the damage done to brain cells due to lack of oxygen during a stroke or TIA.

Vitamin K2 also interferes with the formation of free radicals in the brain, helping to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, and age-related brain degeneration.

Dental and oral health

Just under your tooth's enamel (the outermost and visible layer) lies a layer of tissue called dentin. Unlike enamel, dentin has the potential to continue to form throughout life. Dentin also produces MGP, which plays a critical role in maintaining dental health. In fact, although the body doesn't really store much vitamin K2, it does concentrate vitamin K2 in the saliva glands, so this important nutrient is delivered directly to the teeth and gums. When vitamin K2 is abundant, it helps teeth resist the action of bacteria that might otherwise eat holes through the enamel and into the dentin. Vitamin K2 complements good cavity-fighting oral hygiene. Anecdotally, many people who take vitamin K2 supplements report a lessening of dental plaque and tartar and improved gum health.


Osteocalcin, the vitamin-K2-dependent bone-building protein, has been shown to influence insulin sensitivity.

Insulin is a hormone that allows dietary sugar from our blood stream to enter the body's cells to provide energy. Adult onset or type 2 diabetes exists when the pancreas produces insulin but the body's cells don't respond to it efficiently. Consequently sugar continues to circulate in the blood stream longer than it should, which can lead to many serious health problems.

Vitamin K2 deficiency may be a key reason why people with diabetes are prone to osteoporosis, heart disease, and kidney disease. In clinical trials vitamin K2 supplementation has been shown to improve insulin resistance, helping the body's cells to fight diabetes.


Calcium can accumulate microscopically on the elastic tissues in the skin. When this happens, skin becomes less elastic and sags. Vitamin K2 fights skin aging and the development of wrinkles by protecting the elasticity of skin in the same way it safeguards the elasticity of arteries and veins. No need to apply it topically though, the same K2 you take to protect your bones and heart will work its magic on your skin from the inside.

Varicose veins

Vitamin K2 plays an important role in preventing and healing varicose veins. Calcium can accumulate in the walls of veins in a similar fashion to the way it accumulates in arteries. This can slow blood flow, causing the veins to bulge out, eventually becoming distended, hard, and prominently visible through the skin. MGP, the same vitamin-K2-dependent protein that protects arteries, is involved here. While family history predisposes us to varicose veins, vitamin K2 intake is a controllable factor that can help minimize unsightly vein appearance and discomfort.

Muscle cramps

Although generally associated with sports injuries, muscle cramping also affects non-athletes. Muscle cramps are common in adults and become increasingly frequent with age. Thirty percent of people over the age of 60, and 50% of people over the age of 80, suffer with occasional or frequent leg muscle spasms. Leg cramps (sometimes called a "charley horse") can last from a few seconds to several hours and may wake sufferers at night.

Vitamin K2 (in the form of MK-7) has been shown to decrease the frequency and severity of leg cramps. Leg cramps gradually return if vitamin K2 is discontinued. Magnesium supplementation is also helpful for muscle cramps.


Osteocalcin, the same vitamin-K2-dependent protein that builds bones and teeth, has a significant influence on sperm production. Osteocalcin binds to cells in the testicles that produce testosterone and boost sperm count. Couples planning a family or trying to conceive should ensure both partners are getting optimal amounts of vitamin K2.

Facial development

During pregnancy vitamin K2 has a major impact on the healthy development of the facial structures of the fetus. Adequate vitamin K2 intake helps ensure a wide, healthy facial structure with lots of room for the adult teeth to eventually grow into place. A vitamin K2 deficiency during pregnancy, on the other hand, causes development of a narrower jaw that can lead to crowded teeth or the need for orthodontics (braces).


As you have no doubt realized, the many health benefits of vitamin K2 make this an essential nutrient for a healthy life. Specifically, vitamin K2 is as important as folic acid is for pregnant women. In the first trimester the nutrient is critical for the development of primary teeth and healthy facial structure; in the second trimester the formation of adult teeth and the skeleton requires K2. Despite the importance of K2 in early pregnancy, studies show that K2 levels tend to be at their lowest in the third trimester, so expectant mothers should continue to pay attention to their K2 intake at that time. Experts conclude that adequate K2 intake during pregnancy may prevent cerebral palsy caused by birth trauma.

Vitamin K2 intake continues to be crucial during childhood and adolescence, since the rate of bone growth and turnover is highest at that time. Children and teens have especially high requirements for vitamin K2 to nourish their growing bodies and ensure healthy teeth and bones.
Vitamin K2 has also been shown to counteract the negative changes in bone density experienced by menopausal women. Both men and women over 50 show serious vitamin K2 deficiencies, accelerating the rate of bone loss and vascular calcification.

Vitamin K2 from supplements

Since meat and dairy from grass-fed animals are not readily available, natto can be hard to love, and cheese is a challenge when watching your weight, vitamin K2 supplements may be the best, most consistent, convenient source of life-saving vitamin K2. There are two different types of K2 supplements on store shelves. Understanding the big difference between them is key to getting the results you seek.

Menaquinone-7 (MK-7) supplements As mentioned above, MK-7 is a form of vitamin K2 derived from the Japanese fermented soybean food called natto. This form of vitamin K2 offers several advantages over other forms. MK-7 has a long half-life in the body, meaning it circulates in the blood for a day or two, which means that a convenient, single daily dose will meet your menaquinone needs. Because this form of vitamin K2 stays in the blood longer, MK-7 can be effective in relatively small amounts. About 200 meg of MK-7 per day is required to meet the body's need for K2 and to activate all K2-dependent proteins. The majority of clinical trials on adults were conducted using approximately 200 meg of MK-7, although people who eat natto daily get at least twice that amount from their diet.

For anyone concerned about the potentially harmful effects of some soy products, fermented soy poses no such problems, and vitamin K2 supplements from soy do not contain any harmful soy compounds. Unless someone has a true anaphylactic allergy to soy, which is rare, MK-7 is the best choice among the vitamin K2 supplements.

Menaquinone-4 (MK-4) supplements

The other type of vitamin K2 supplement that persists on store shelves is menaquinone-4. MK-4 is a synthetic form of vitamin K2 that was one of the early vitamin K2 supplement forms. Although many scientific studies have used MK-4, it has several limitations, especially in terms of the required dose. The therapeutic dose of MK-4 used in most research is 45 mg (45,000 meg). This dose is permitted in the USA but far exceeds the Health Canada limit of 120 meg per dose. Imagine if someone owed you $45,000 but only paid you $120? MK-4 products are simply ineffective at such a low dose.

Proponents of MK-4 point out that it is the type of vitamin K2 that occurs naturally in animal-derived foods such as egg yolks and butter. While that is true, the MK-4 found in supplements is not extracted from these natural sources, it is synthesized in a laboratory. MK-7, on the other hand, is extracted from food and identical to what is found in natto. Just as natural vitamin D3 has gradually replaced synthetic vitamin D2 in most supplements, natural MK-7 will soon replace synthetic MK-4 on store shelves.

If the supplement you are considering just lists "vitamin K" and doesn't indicate whether it contains vitamin Kx or vitamin K2, MK-4 or MK-7, don't buy it. There's no way to tell what you are buying and whether it will deliver all the benefits of vitamin K2. Additionally, there's no need to spend money on supplements that contain vitamin K: since this nutrient easily obtained from the diet, the body recycles it, and deficiencies are extremely rare.


Vitamin K2 is very safe for adults and children, with no known toxic effects, unlike some other fat-soluble vitamins. A popular misconception is that high vitamin K{ or vitamin K2 intake will promote blood clots. Vitamin K supplements have no clotting effect, since coagulation proteins are already fully activated by vitamin Kj in people who are not on blood-thinning medications.

On the topic of medications, vitamin K2 supplements have no drug interactions, except in the case of warfarin (Coumadin). Because this type of blood thinner works by limiting the body's vitamin K metabolism, vitamin K supplements may interfere with the drug's efficacy. That being said, studies show that up to 50 meg of vitamin K2

(MK-7) can safely be taken with warfarin and may help the medication work more predictably and with fewer side effects. If you are taking a warfarin-type blood thinner, speak to a health care practitioner prior to supplementing with vitamin K2.

Other so-called "blood-thinning" medications such as aspirin, anti-platelet aggregators (e.g., Plavix), non-warfarin-type blood thinners (e.g.,Pradaxa), cardiac medications, and other drugs do not interact with vitamin K2.

As mentioned previously, current research shows the optimal daily dose of vitamin K2 (MK-7) is around 200 meg. Since most MK-7 supplements contain 100-120 meg per capsule or softgel, two per day will meet most needs. It's worth noting that frequent natto eaters safely get a lot more than 200 meg of MK-7 in their diet. Since this is a fat-soluble vitamin it's best taken with food for maximum absorption.











Keith Hunt