Stirring Change – Are you getting enough vitamin K2?

Part 4 of our ‘Nourishing our Kids’ series

We’re mid-way through a discussion of the work of Dr Weston A. Price, who studied the diets of traditional people and found them to be almost entirely responsible for their near-perfect health.

Activator X: a missing nutrient

In his research, Dr Price discovered a fat-soluble vitamin he called ‘Activator X’, which we now know to be vitamin K2. He referred to it as an activator because, as we discussed last week, like vitamins A and D, it’s an important catalyst which helps the body absorb and utilise minerals.

Price observed that “people of the past obtained a substance that modern generations do not have” and that its absence from the diet could explain many of our modern diseases. He was able to reverse dental decay and cure degenerative conditions in his patients by supplementing foods rich in this nutrient – the foods that all traditional cultures revered as sacred: animal fats, eggs, concentrated forms of dairy like butter and cheese, and organ meats.

It’s worth noting that when it comes to vitamin K2 and indeed all fat-soluble vitamins, the levels found in various animal foods are entirely dependent on the animal’s diet and the farming method employed by the producer. Grass-fed land animals have much higher concentrations of fat-soluble vitamins, across the board.

Vitamin K and K2 are different!

Vitamin K was originally identified for its role in blood clotting but we now know it has far more diverse and important functions. There’s a growing body of research that suggests that they should be treated as two different vitamins, just like the family of B vitamins.

Whilst there’s no direct test for vitamin K2 deficiency, we can measure the markers of vitamin K status in bone and tissues (uncarboxylated osteocalcin and dephospho-uncarboxylated matrix GLA protein for those who were wondering)!

The recommended daily requirement of vitamin K is only based only on our need for K1. To this day, there’s still no daily requirement of vitamin K2!

Consequently, and with a tip of the hat to the anti-fat and cholesterol campaigns once again, there’s now evidence that we’re looking down the barrel of a near-universal epidemic of vitamin K2 deficiency. Children and anyone over the age of 40 are particularly at risk – especially for those avoiding dairy or on medications, as many inhibit our absorption of dietary vitamin K.

We touched on this last week, but it’s worth reiterating that the ratio of vitamins K, A and D are almost as important as the amount. This is why supplementing with any of these nutrients should never be done without addressing the others.

Why is vitamin K2 important?

Whilst vitamin D helps with our absorption of calcium (which is why in the last decade, people have supplemented the two together), K2 is the nutrient responsible for shuttling that calcium into the bones and teeth and keeping it out of the blood vessels, organs and other soft tissues to prevent calcification. You can see why it is such an incredibly important piece of the puzzle, especially for growing children!

It is one of the most critical nutrients for healthy teeth and gums and we’ll be hearing from local Dentist, Dr Steven Lin on this topic next week.

K2 also improves insulin sensitivity and stabilises blood sugar, helping to protect against diabetes and also the metabolic issues that often emerge as a consequence of obesity.

It promotes sexual, reproductive and mental health by helping optimise hormones and protects against cancer by suppressing the genes that make cells cancerous and expressing the genes that make cells healthy.

How much K2 do we need?

One of the leading authorities on this Vitamin, Chris Masterjohn PhD, believes we should aim for 100 at an absolute minimum and up to 200 mcg daily for optimal health. To give an example of what this looks like, aiming for the minimum amount of 100mcg daily:

A small 50g serving of natto (fermented soybeans) provides a 5 day supply

100g serving of goose liver provides a 3 day supply

100g pork or beef ribs provide a 1 day supply

100g pork or dark chicken meat (thigh) provides around 50-75mcg

100g of good quality hard cheese provides around 75mcg

4 pastured egg yolks provide 20mcg

It’s important that anyone taking anticoagulants such as Warfarin avoid making any dietary changes that affect vitamin K status, without supervision of a medical practitioner.

A recipe for Russian Custard

Russian Custard is a delicious, centuries-old nourishing treat that provides a brilliant vehicle for incorporating egg yolks into the diets of children and adults alike.

Pastured egg yolks are a beautifully rich wholefood source of vitamin A, D and K2 as well as zinc, iodine, choline and omega 3. All of these nutrients tend to be lacking in our modern diets and especially in diets of children.

It doesn’t require cooking, so is an exceptionally quick and easy thing to make and is a great cream substitute for families who are dairy free. This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

6 egg yolks

3 tsp maple syrup (or 1-2 tsp honey)

1 tsp vanilla

Method:

You’ll need either a blender, handheld beater or mixer for this recipe. Beating the mixture with a beater or mixer yields a much lighter, fluffier custard but the result is delicious either way.

  1. Separate the egg whites from the yolks and save the whites in a jar in the fridge for later use (they’ll last for several weeks and are great for macaroon slice or cookies).

2. Place all ingredients into a small mixing bowl, blender or mixer and beat until the mixture thickens and the colour lightens to a pale yellow.

Yes, that’s it, folks! So simple that there’s no excuse not to give it a try.

Georgia Lienemann

It’s delicious served with fruit or eaten on its own. The custard will last a couple of days in the fridge or you can make a bigger batch and freeze into a very impressive dairy-free ice-cream. Add a touch more sweetener if you’re planning to do this.

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