Here's some info. for those who don't subscribe to Wise Traditions
, which has a great vitamin K2 article by Chris Masterjohn. It'll probably be up on the WAPF site soon.
In 1945, Dr. Weston Price, the pioneer of nutritional epidemiology, published a revised edition of his masterwork, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, including a new chapter called “A New Vitamin-Like Activator.” Price described his experiments with a fat-soluble substance vital to healthy bones and teeth found in the butter of cows raised on grass. The grass-fed butter was remarkably effective in curing a number of chronic conditions, and even more powerful when combined with cod liver oil. Price called the magic ingredient Activator X.
Some 60 years later, researchers have identified Activator X. It is vitamin K2, a fat-soluble vitamin essential for optimal dental and skeletal health. Vitamin K2 has a very interesting role: it puts calcium where it belongs (in the bones and teeth) and keeps it away from the places it doesn’t belong, such as the arteries, where plaques calcify. Vitamin K2 is essential for healthy development and growth in children. Its effects are subtle: though K2 is necessary for bone density, it also prevents premature calcification of the cartilaginous parts of bones, the softer parts which allows your baby’s bones to grow.
Vitamin K2 can be made in the body from vitamin K1, which is found in green vegetables, but ideally your diet will contain ample sources of K2 itself. Get your K2 from the butter, organ meats, and fat of animals raised on grass. A reliable sign of K2 is the rich yellow color of butter from cows on grass; K2’s precursor is related to beta carotene.
Now we know what Price could only surmise: why traditional people went to so much trouble to get these ‘high vitamin’ foods, as Price called them.
K2 is an interesting fellow among vitamins. K2 is made in your reproductive organs. Sperm contains a protein that relies on K2. There is more K2 in your brain and saliva (where it protects you from tooth decay) than anywhere else. K2 deficiency (good name for a band) causes fatigue in lab animals. K2 prevents heart disease by preventing inflammation and calcification of the arteries.
Do you need more K2? If you’re vegan or vegetarian or trying to conceive, you probably do. Recall that Price found the combination of cod liver oil and K2 butter powerfully effective. That’s because cod liver oil is rich in vitamins A and D, which have several synergetic relationships with K2. In plain language, that means A, D, and K2 work together to build bones, among other vital tasks.
If it’s bone health you’re after, consider one more virtue of traditional diets: saturated fat. You need saturated fats to lay down minerals (such as calcium) in your bones. Studies show that polyunsaturated fats (soybean oil) ‘depress’ mineralization while saturated fats (butter and palm oil) ‘stimulate’ bone density. That’s why I don’t drink skim milk and cannot recommend it, especially for women who are concerned about osteoporosis.
If you’re worried about the effects of natural saturated fats on your heart, fear not. The net effect of these traditional fats, such as butter, is to raise HDL. On the virtues of HDL, the National Cholesterol Education Program is clear: ‘the higher, the better.’ Recent studies even show that LDL is not the villain either, but a repair molecule sent to damaged arteries to repair them.
You might instead choose to avoid the new, ‘trans fat-free’ non-butter, vegetable-oil based ‘buttery’ spreads. (I grimace as I type the hype.) Now that trans-fats are known killers, Big Food brings you a new process for making industrial soy bean oil spreadable, because they know how much you want your butter.
How do they do it? By scrambling the fatty acids in a process called interesterification. It appears we won’t have to wait 60 years to discover that these fats are not good for you. In a recent study by K.C. Hayes, interesterified fats lowered HDL (that’s bad), depressed insulin (that’s bad), and raised blood sugar (also bad). Compared to what? Good question. Compared to palm oil—yes, the highly saturated tropical fat they taught you to fear.
Remember the rule: if your great-grandmother ate it, it’s probably OK. I know what you're thinking. My great-grandmothers in Sweden and Bohemia and Germany and England didn't eat palm oil, either. But you know what I mean.
Best wishes, Ninawww.NinaPlanck.com
(Thanks to Chris Masterjohn, writing in the Spring 2007 issue of Wise Traditions, the journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, for the new information on vitamin K2. For more on saturated fats and bone density, see the chapter called ‘Food Lipids and Bone Health,’ by Watkins and Seifert, in Food Lipids and Health, published by Marcel Dekker 1996.)