Women's Heart Health & Vitamin K2: Part II
From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO...
In honor of American Heart Month, we started to discuss the importance role of Vitamin K2 for heart health in addition to other health conditions concerning women including osteoporosis, infertility, diabetes, PCOS, and more. This week, I'll go into more detail about how to include Vitamin K2 in your diet and the history of this sometimes not-well-known vitamin.
How do you get Vitamin K2 in your Diet?
Now that you know how important Vitamin K2 is in the body, how do you get Vitamin K2 in your diet? The body does not maintain large stores of Vitamin K2, therefore we need to eat foods rich in K2 to keep this catalyst working for us. However, the only food source include organ meats, goose liver pate, as well as other grass-fed meats, grass-fed eggs, and grass-fed dairy products. Additionally, fermented foods such as Brie and Roquefort cheeses contain Vitamin K2. The best source of K2 is natto-a Japanese fermented food. If you choose to eat these foods-do so knowing you're getting some Vitamin K2 in your diet! If you are eating a daily dose of non-GMO natto-congratulations! You are probably one of the few people getting an optimal level of Vitamin K2 in your diet. Since most of us are not eating pasture-raised animals, fermented cheeses, or natto, then you'll most likely need to supplement. Still curious about why this nutrient was not upheld as one of the greatest discoveries in nutrition? Here’s a few more words about the discovery of Vitamin K2:
The Discovery of Vitamin K2
In the 1930s, Danish biochemist Henrik Dam discovered Vitamin K1. The vitamin was named Vitamin K for the word "koagulation" due to its important role in blood clotting. An American researcher by the name of Edward Doisy then determined Vitamin K's structure. The two researchers together won the 1943 Nobel Prize in Physiology for their discovery of this important nutrient. Both of these researchers recognized that Vitamin K had two forms (Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2). However, they considered them to be the same vitamin, not recognizing that Vitamin K2 had distinct properties outside of blood clotting. Vitamin K1 is highly recycled in the body, therefore, the body needs very small doses to maintain adequate levels. As a result, the story of Vitamin K and its discovery ended there.
Around the same time, a dentist by the name of Weston Price started to research the connection between nutrition and chronic illness. Dr. Price was concerned by the number of patients in his practice experiencing both chronic illness along with tooth decay and gum disease. He and his wife embarked on a global adventure to discover the root cause of these conditions. During this time, he noted that many indigenous families lived without such luxuries as medical or dental care, or a toothbrush and floss! However, they were generally living without the nuisance of chronic illness. Additionally, he noted that their children had perfectly straight teeth, excellent jaw formation, without tooth decay or gum disease.
His determination to solve this paradox led him to compare dietary practices. As a result, he discovered a fat-soluble vitamin and called it: "activator X". Price demonstrated that the lack of this “activator X” resulted in a reproducible pattern of disease including tooth decay, gum disease, and other chronic illnesses. His documentation showed that the diets of healthy, native populations contained at least four times more minerals and water-soluble vitamins as well as ten times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins in comparison to the the standard American diet at the time. You may guess by now that this “activator X” is now what is known to be Vitamin K2. Still, his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and its findings did not become mainstream nutritional advice.
Tragically, it was not until 1997, when an study determined that Vitamin K2 was essential for two processes unrelated to blood clotting: helping calcium deposit in the bones and preventing calcification of arteries. In 2007, an additional study showed that Vitamin K2 deficiency was widespread. In other words, the majority of the population was no longer eating pasture-raised animals and had become silently deficient. It took almost 70 years for the scientific community to recognize the importance of “activator X”!
More Information About Vitamin K2
Although this blog entry is longer than typical posts, it only covers a fraction of the information about Vitamin K2. For more information, please turn to two of my favorite experts on this subject. The Ultimate Vitamin K2 Resource, is a website created by Chris Masterjohn, Ph.D. detailing everything that you could possibly want to know about Vitamin K2. Additionally, Kate Rheaume-Bleue, B.Sc., N.D. wrote the book, Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox which I now include on my Women’s Health Book List.
Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO
Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery and discovered the many benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis and a Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Jessica is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). She is also a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics, a specialty certification held by fewer than 500 acupuncturists in the United States.
Jessica currently maintains a private acupuncture practice in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, which was awarded Best Acupuncture Center by Boston Magazine. Areas of specialty include women's health, pregnancy, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. If you are interested in learning about the benefits of acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please visit the acupuncture + fertility page. New patients can book online to schedule any acupuncture service including a complimentary consult. Jessica also serves as a health care consultant for a number of integrative medical institutes. Her clients include IVF and infertility centers, functional medicine offices, orthopedic facilities, concierge practices, and green spas. Please contact OMBE for more information about these services.
Prior to her consulting work, Jessica founded an integrative health center in Boston. The eco-friendly center was one of the first twenty-five companies certified as a Sustainable Business Leader in Boston. During its ten-year tenure, the center provided services including acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, naturopathy, nutritional counseling, personal training, Pilates, and yoga. Studio offerings included mom and baby programming, Mongan Method Hypnobirthing, natural childbirth education and the Holistic Moms Network. The center was the recipient of several awards, including Mayor Menino's Green Business Award, a multiple recipient of Boston Business Journal's Best Workplace, Boston Magazine's Best of Boston Award for Massage Therapy as well as Best Eco-Friendly Massage, Eco-Beauty Bar, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, Pilates, and Workout.