Annual checkups with your doctor likely include discussions about taking calcium and Vitamin D for bone health. It is unlikely however, that Vitamin K, specifically K2, is mentioned. In fact, most people are probably not even aware of what it is or does. According to naturopathic doctor, Kate Rhéaume-Bleue, in her book Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox, ensuring that you are getting enough of this overlooked supernutrient could save your life.
Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox raises a crucial question, especially considering the current popularity of calcium supplementation – is calcium killing us? Increasing calcium has been shown to be good for your bones, but recent research indicates it is not so beneficial for your arteries, which can become calcified. So the dilemma becomes ... do you stop taking calcium to protect your heart, leaving bones at risk, or continue protecting your bones and possibly increase susceptibility to hardening of the arteries and heart disease? This is the calcium paradox: a deficiency of it in the bones and an excess in the arteries.
In this absorbing book, Rhéaume-Bleue reveals the resolution to this paradox, “Vitamin K2 is the key to putting calcium back in its place to remedy this calcium conundrum… [because it] funnels calcium into bones to strengthen mineral density and fight fractures while it prevents and even removes dangerous arterial calcification.”
Vitamin K2’s job in our bodies is to activate a protein called osteocalcin, which attracts calcium into bones and teeth. It also activates matrix GLA proteins (MGPs), which remove calcium from the soft tissues like arteries, veins, and skin. Therefore, these K2-dependent proteins are essential for moving calcium around the body.
Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox includes the story of the discovery and rediscovery of this long misunderstood vitamin, particularly the role played by Canadian-born dentist Weston Price. In the second edition of his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (1945), Price presented evidence of an unrecognized fat-soluble substance that played a fundamental role in the utilization of minerals and whose absence from modern nutrition he believed was responsible for the proliferation of cavities, and other degenerative diseases. Unable to identify this new nutrient, he referred to it as “Activator X.” While different theories were put forth over the years, “it was only in 2007 that the mystery was finally solved. Activator X is vitamin K2.”
Despite growing evidence of its many health benefits, Rhéaume-Bleue believes most of us are not getting enough K2 to keep us healthy long-term. “When we removed animals from the pasture, we inadvertently removed vitamin K2 from our diet…. When animals grazed on pasture, vitamin K2 was abundant in our food supply. The most common dietary staples like butter, eggs, cheese and meat… even relatively small amounts easily met our menaquinone needs. Now we consume large quantities of mass produced versions of these foods, but we are starving for the nutrients that they no longer contain.”
Fortunately, Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox includes practical advice to help counteract this widespread deficiency – providing a detailed chart with food sources for vitamin K2, as well as important information on supplementation and dosages. Unfortunately, the fact that the highest food source, natto (a Japanese fermented soybean dish), “smells like old gym socks and is held together by gobs of stringy mucus,” probably rules it out for most people. Other items on the list include liver pâté, various cheeses, egg yolk, and butter.
While Rhéaume-Bleue does not endeavour to solve the quandary of what best to make for dinner, she does present much needed information to help us understand a long misunderstood vitamin critical to our well-being, and whose value research is continuing to illuminate.