Got Milk?

Got Milk?

Now that’s a question that has received tons of controversy in the past 30 years. Is milk really good for you? Does it make you fat? Does it make you thin? Does it play a role in cancer or heart disease? Does it help promote bone development? Is whole milk better? Is skim milk better? What about pasteurization and homogenization? One day, milk is good for us. The next day, milk is bad for us. I will be honest, in my own personal research on milk, for every article I find praising milk, I can find another one tearing it apart. So, what should we believe? What is the truth?

Well, the truth is milk can be good and milk can be bad for us. Huh? I believe the difference depends on some very important questions. Ask yourself, where does the milk come from (organic and pastured-fed or conventional and grain-fed), are their additives (synthetic Vitamin A, D, and thickeners like carrageenan), has it been pasteurized and homogenized, is it whole fat or skim, and finally, what if the person drinking the milk has a milk intolerance? The question of, is milk really good for us? depends on so many variables. So, for us to make an educated decision on choosing or not choosing to add milk to our diet we need to understand a few things…

Organic and pasture-fed vs. conventional grain-fed milk.

As I discussed in a previous blog, Where is the grass-fed beef? pastured, grass-fed cattle produce a far superior product than commercial, grain-fed cattle. This is not only true in the meat they produce, but also in the milk they produce. One of the big reasons for this is pastured, hormone-free cows produce less milk than commercial cows, but the milk is richer in vitamin content. When farmers try to increase their milk production by using synthetic hormones like rBTH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), selective breeding, and an energy-dense grain diet, they end up increasing the milk volume, BUT diluting the nutritional content of the milk. This means less Vitamin A, D, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, B2, B12, and phosphorous in the conventionally farmed milk. This is one of those times when less is more.

In addition, grass-fed pastured cows produce milk that has higher levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). CLA is a family of at least 28 isomers of linoleic acid that is best known for its anti-cancer and anti-inflammation properties. In a 1999 study by the Journal of Dairy Science, it was concluded that cows grazing on pasture and receiving no supplemental feed had 3 to 5 times more CLA in their milkfat than cows fed a grain diet. In many animal and human studies, CLA has been shown to not only slow the growth of cancer on the skin, breast, prostate and colon, but also help in weight loss and increased metabolism.

*Just a side note, many people take a synthetic version of CLA that is widely promoted as a diet aid and muscle builder. New research shows that the type of CLA in the pills may have some potentially serious side effects, including promoting insulin resistance, raising glucose levels, and reducing HDL. Just another reason to eat real food and toss out your expensive supplements.

Finally, organic, grass-fed pastured milk is free of any hormones (free of rBGH) and antibiotics. We should assume what goes in the cow, will end up in the milk, which will eventually end up in us. The hormone rBGH has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer in humans. The additive has been banned in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and the entire European Union — yet, here in America, it is widely used in the conventionally farmed dairy industry.

As you can see, grass-fed organic milk is an entirely different product than conventional grain-fed milk. From what I have read, most of the negative research on milk has been on conventional grain-fed milk. So the question is… Is it really the milk that is bad for us? Or is it how we’re treating the cows?

Lets keep going…

Milk additives.

Most milk products contain some form of synthetic vitamin A and D. Yes, this is even true for some organic brands. Due to their lower fat content, US law requires most organic low-fat and skim milks to be fortified with additional Vitamin A and D. All conventionally farmed milk products, including whole, low fat, and skim milk varieties, are fortified with Vitamin A and D.

What does this mean to you?

According to Josh Rubin of East West Healing and Performance, many people have an inflammatory response to these synthetic vitamins. Some are very cheap and many come from overseas where the quality standards are much lower than the United States. The FDA reports that less than 20% of these overseas vitamins are actually regulated by their standards. The only milk products I have found that have no Vitamin additives are all raw organic milk products and some pasteurized whole milk products. Just another reason to read your food labels.

In addition, some milk products, including skim, low fat versions, and chocolate milk contain carrageenan. If you have not already read my Carrageenan blog, Carrageenan is natural emulsifier and thickener used in many products. It has been linked to several types of cancer, arthritis, ulcerations of the intestines, and many other issues. Once again, is it the milk you are drinking OR the additives in the milk that are making it unhealthy for you?

Pasteurization.

Pasteurization is a process of heating a food, usually a liquid, to a specific temperature for a specific length of time and then cooling it immediately. The purpose is to kill off all harmful bacteria and pathogens. The problem is that pasteurization also kills the good bacteria (probiotics); alters the enzymes, proteins, fats, and sugar in milk, and creates a dead food. Non-pasteurized (raw) milk consumption has been shown to positively influence the immune system’s resistance to the development of asthma, hay fever and atopic sensitzation (skin allergy). In fact, many cultures use raw milk as a homeopathic healing food.

The only positive thing about pasteurization is that it allows for a longer shelf life. Raw milk, due to it being a live food, will spoil much faster. Remember, the improved shelf live is a big plus for the commercial dairy farmer. Longer lasting milk = less spoiling = more money.

Is pasteurized milk really safer than raw milk? I believe raw milk and pasteurized milk are equally susceptible to contamination. The only way to make milk safe is to keep it clean —clean cows and clean dairies. Instead, to make things easier, we kill a lot of the good in milk and produce a less healthy product.

Whole fat milk vs. low fat and skim milk

One of the many reasons milk has received such a bad name is due to its saturated fat content. Saturated fat has received a bad name because it has been linked to increase cholesterol, heart disease, and heart attacks. However, as I discussed in my blog on saturated fat, this is not the case. Saturated fat can be very beneficial to our bodies. It is the most stable of all the fats, it contains vital nutrients, it can help with metabolism, digestion, thyroid function, and liver detoxification. Once we remove the saturated fat from milk, what we are left with is cheap sugar water with a little protein. The milk fat contains vitamin A and D, and is needed for proper vitamin absorption. Remove the fat, you remove the nutrients…as to why the government has to add them back in.

Lactose Intolerance.

For many years, it was almost en vogue to be lactose intolerant. Now gluten intolerance seems to be the new hip “intestinal issue”. Still, many people are claiming they have a hard time breaking down the lactose (milk sugar) in milk because they are no longer producing the enzyme lactase. This ends up giving them all sorts of problems like gas, upset stomach, cramps, and bloating. The enzyme lactase is needed to break down the milk sugar lactose. Lactase is produced in the microvilli of the small intestine, and is released once lactose enters the intestines. The problem starts when the gut and intestines become inflamed and damaged (usually happens over time with the consumption of alcohol, drugs, PUFAs, grains, processed foods, additives, etc.) and lactase production shuts down. When this happens, lactose cannot be broken down and what we develop is intolerance to anything containing lactose.

So why not just consume lactose-free products?

Well, you could do this, but there is a reason milk contains the milk sugar lactose. Lactose is needed in helping calcium get absorbed by your body and into the bones. Yes, milk sugar is needed for optimal calcium absorption into the right areas (bones, not arteries). A better idea would be to heal the gut and slowly start adding dairy back into the diet. According to Dr. Ray Peat, you can heal the gut and intestines of lactose intolerance in as little as two weeks. Peat says you may want to try adding a small amount of additive-free cheese first, and then start adding in a little whole organic, grass-fed milk over time.

As you can see, there is more to Got milk? than meets the eye. Yes, milk can be considered bad for us. But given the right quality of milk, with the right person, in the right amounts, milk can be very beneficial. Personally, I drink milk every day. For me, the benefits of milk far outweigh any negatives.

Not only is milk a complete food (contains fats, proteins and carbs), but it contains CLA, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Vitamins A, B2, B12, and D. I would suggest, if you are going to start adding in milk to your diet, purchase the best source available.

My personal selections are:

1) Raw (non-homogenized, non-pasteurized), grass-fed, organic whole milk is best (no additives)

2) Pasteurized, non homogenized, grass-fed, organic whole milk (no additives)

3) Pasteurized and homogenized organic, grass-fed whole milk (no additives)

4) Pasteurized and homogenized organic, grass-fed 2% or 1% milk

Remember, the less processing, additives, and degradation your milk has gone through, the more healthful this food will be for you. Quality is king!

Your Optimal Health Coach,

Kate

“Disclaimer:  I am an exercise physiologist, personal trainer, nutritional and lifestyle coach, not a medical doctor.  I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human disease or physical problem. I do not provide diagnosis, care treatment or rehabilitation of individuals, nor apply medical, mental health or human development principles.  I do not prescribe prescription drugs nor do I tell you to discontinue them.  I provide physical and dietary suggestions to improve health and wellness and to nourish and support normal function and structure of the body.  If you suspect any disease please consult your physician.”

References:

  1. A. Aro et al, Kuopio University, Finland; Bougnoux, P, Lavillonniere F, Riboli E. “Inverse relation between CLA in adipose breast tissue and risk of breast cancer. A case-control study in France.” Inform 10;5:S43, 1999)
  2. Jensen, S. K. “Quantitative secretion and maximal secretion capacity of retinol, beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol into cows’ milk.” J Dairy Res 66, no. 4 (1999): 511-22. )
  3. Dhiman, T. R., G. R. Anand, et al. (1999). “Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets.” J Dairy Sci 82(10): 2146-56
  4. Riserus, U., P. Arner, et al. (2002). “Treatment with dietary trans10cis12 conjugated linoleic acid causes isomer-specific insulin resistance in obese men with the metabolic syndrome.” Diabetes Care 25(9): 1516-21.
  5. Dr. Ray Peat: “Milk in context: allergies, ecology, and some myths”,  “Calcium and Disease: Hypertension, organ calcification, & shock, vs. respiratory energy”
  6. Ron Schmid, ND; The Untold Story or Milk
  7. Josh Rubin; East West Healing and Performance; www.eastwesthealing.com

 

What is up with Vitamin D?

What is Up With Vitamin D?

The other day I was consulting with a new client (I’ll refer to her as Julie) about her recent lab work. One thing Julie had a concern about was her Vitamin D level…which was considerably low. Julie wondered how these levels could be so low since she played hours of tennis outside every day. She explained how she was out in the sun daily with only SPF 15 sunscreen. She thought she was getting enough sun…yet was she?

It seems in today’s world that everyone is deficient in Vitamin D. I live in the sunniest place on earth, San Diego, and everyone I speak with has some level of Vitamin D deficiency. Knowing we can synthesis our own Vitamin D from the sun, why are we all so deficient? Who or what is to blame about this? Is it too much sunscreen? Poor diet? Liver problems? Kidney issues? Some combination of all four factors? Let’s go deeper so we can see…What is up with Vitamin D?

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient obtained from food or sunlight. Vitamin D can be attained by plant sources as ergocaliciferol (D2) and animal sources as cholecalciferol (D3). Its main function is to regulate calcium and phosphorous in the bloodstream and to promote healthy bone formation. With adequate amounts of sunlight, the body can synthesize Vitamin D. By definition vitamins must be obtained by the diet since they cannot be synthesized in sufficient amounts by the organism. This makes Vitamin D unique, since it can be obtained from a source outside of food and can be synthesized by the body itself.

Vitamin D’s Function

Once Vitamin D enters the body either through food or sunlight it is transported by the blood system to the liver. The liver is where Vitamin D is converted to the prohormone (a precursor to a hormone) calcidiol. Calcidiol is then transported to the kidneys and monocyte-macrophages of the immune system where it is converted to calcitriol, the active form of Vitamin D. Calcitriol then binds with Vitamin D–binding protein (VDBP) and is transported to certain target organs.
Once at the target cells calcitriol binds to Vitamin D Receptors (VDR). This binding allows the calcitriol-VDR connection to control the flow of calcium absorption in the intestine. This is why Vitamin D is so essential for calcium absorption and healthy bone development. Low Vitamin D levels will decrease calcium absorption, which can create low blood calcium levels, which can lead to bone break down.

Who knew so many organs, proteins, enzymes and receptors where involved for the body to properly utilize Vitamin D? I bet you thought you just needed more sun…which you do. However, you also need a healthy liver, kidneys and a good diet to ensure proper Vitamin D absorption and utilization.

Why is there an epidemic of low Vitamin D levels?
To be honest, nobody knows for sure, but I can think of a few culprits that may be having an effect…

1. Liver Dysfunction. The liver plays a vital role in the conversion of Vitamin D to the prohormone Calcidiol. If the liver is overburdened with toxins (PUFA’s, drugs, alcohol, estrogen, additives, preservatives, environmental toxins, processed foods, etc.) it cannot perform optimally. Your over burdened liver spends too much time and energy trying to detox your body, thus the Vitamin D to calcidiol conversion suffers.

2. Kidney Dysfunction. The active form of Vitamin D, calcitriol is produced in the kidneys from calcidiol. Low functioning kidneys caused by renal failure or chronic kidney disease (CKD) will lead to low levels of active Vitamin D. Things that can lead to kidney dysfunction are: accidents; injuries; complications from surgeries; drug overdoses; overloads on antibiotics, aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen; chemotherapy; diabetes; and high blood pressure.

3. Sunscreen. We all know over exposure to the sun can cause skin damage and lead to skin cancer. Therefore sunscreen seems like the right answer when it comes to protecting your skin from the harmful sun’s rays. The problem is we need the sun to synthesis Vitamin D. When I was in my teens, I think the highest SPF (sun protection factor) was around 10 or 15 SPF, now it’s closer to 75 or even 100 SPF. An SPF, as low as 8, can decrease vitamin D’s absorption capacity by 95 percent. With these increased SPF sunscreens, our skin may be receiving less harmful (UVB) rays. However, these are the same rays that provide Vitamin D to our skin.
Yet the million-dollar question is…why did skin cancer incidents double from 1994 to 2006 while sunscreen sales with higher SPFs increased? Physiologist and Chemist Dr. Ray Peat’s theory is the increased level of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) in the diet. Stored PUFAs oxidize with heat and oxygen exposure, which can lead to skin damage, aging and cancer.

4. Diet. Although the sun is the best way to get adequate levels of vitamin D, your diet can be a contributing factor. A diet lacking in Vitamin D can lower serum D levels in the body. The best sources of Vitamin D are those found in animal products since they contain cholecalciferol (D3). Tuna, mackerel, salmon, beef liver, egg yolks and goat’s milk are good sources. D2 can also be used to increase levels of Vitamin D in the body but most research says D3 is more effective in humans. Good sources of Vitamin D2 are portabella and shiitake mushrooms and alfalfa.

Deficiency of Vitamin D
Outside of poor calcium absorption and poor bone health a deficiency in Vitamin D is linked to many other health concerns.
* Cardiovascular risks
* High blood pressure
* Multiple sclerosis
* Weight gain
* Cancer
* Fatigue
* Mental health issues
* Inflammation
* Asthma
* Poor hair health
* Diabetes

What can you do to increase your Vitamin D Levels?

1. Get more sun. Try and get at least 10-30 minutes of sun exposure between the hours of 10AM and 3PM each day. This means full body exposure, or at least show as much skin as you can. If you are sensitive to the sun or burn easily start with 5 minutes and work yourself up.

2. Avoid oils and foods high in PUFAs. Polyunsaturated fats are very unstable and oxidize quickly with heat (sun exposure) and oxygen. PUFA’s are stored in your fat tissue and when they are broken down and used as energy, they oxidize in your body causing aging, skin pigmentation, and eventually cancers. For more information on polyunsaturated fats refer to my blog, Polyunsaturated fats…Essential or toxic?

3. Eat more foods with Vitamin D3. Tuna, salmon sardines, egg yolks, goat’s milk and beef liver are good options.

4. Remove toxic and inflammatory substances. Removing or at least limiting alcohol, drugs (recreational, prescribed or over-the-counter), processed foods, fast foods, hard to digest foods, additives, carrageenan, PUFAs, estrogenic foods like soy, most grains, HFCS, and non-organic foods will help increase liver, gut and kidney function. This will encourage better Vitamin D synthesis.

5. Supplement. If all else fails take a liquid or topical Vitamin D3 supplement. The liquid or topical will absorb into your system better than a pill. I believe most pills are never a good option since they contain binders and fillers. Depending on the person, where they live, how much sun they get, time of year, and their diet, anywhere from 400IU to 10,000IU can be beneficial. Vitamin D supplements have been to shown to be incredible safe, yet Vitamin D can be toxic if levels that are too high for the individual. Most research states these are levels higher than 40,000IU.

At the end of the day we need to make sure we get adequate levels of Vitamin D into our body. Whether you choose the sun, food or supplementation…just get it in.
If you are unsure of what your Vitamin D levels should be, ask your doctor for a simple blood test. A person’s whose level is under 32 ng/ml is in need of more sun, more Vitamin D foods, or a supplement. Optimal levels are 40-50 ng/ml.

Your Optimal Health Coach,
Kate

“Disclaimer: I am an exercise physiologist, personal trainer, nutritional and lifestyle coach, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human disease or physical problem. I do not provide diagnosis, care treatment or rehabilitation of individuals, nor apply medical, mental health or human development principles. I do not prescribe prescription drugs nor do I tell you to discontinue them. I provide physical and dietary suggestions to improve health and wellness and to nourish and support normal function and structure of the body. If you suspect any disease please consult your physician.”

References

1. Myles Wolf, MD, MMSc and Ravi Thadhani, MD, MPH. VITAMIN D IN PATIENTS WITH RENAL FAILURE: A SUMMARY OF OBSERVATIONAL MORTALITY STUDIES AND STEPS MOVING FORWARD
J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 March; 103(3-5): 487–490.Published online 2007 January 2. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2006.11.009
2. Anderson JL, Vanwoerkom RC, Horne BD, Bair TL, May HT, Lappé DL, Muhlestein JB. Parathyroid hormone, vitamin D, renal dysfunction, and cardiovascular disease: dependent or independent risk factors? Am Heart J. 2011 Aug;162(2):331-339.e2.
3. D L Andress. Vitamin D in chronic kidney disease: A systemic role for selective vitamin D receptor activation. Kidney International (2006) 69, 33–43. doi:10.1038/sj.ki.5000045.
4. Malham M, Jørgensen SP, Ott P, Agnholt J, Vilstrup H, Borre M, Dahlerup JF. Vitamin D deficiency in cirrhosis relates to liver dysfunction rather than aetiology. Department of Medicine V (Hepatology and Gastroenterology), Aarhus University Hospital, DK-8000, Aarhus C, Denmark.
5. Vitamin D Deficiency Common In Patients With IBD, Chronic Liver Disease. ScienceDaily (Oct. 6, 2008)
6. Data show incidence of skin cancer rising at alarming rate. American Academy of Dermatology NEW ORLEANS (Feb. 4, 2011)
7. Laura A. G. Armas, Bruce W. Hollis and Robert P. Heaney. Vitamin D2 Is Much Less Effective than Vitamin D3 in Humans. Armas et al. 89 (11): 5387 ENDOCRINE CARE
8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56078/
9. Vieth R. Vitamin D supplementation, 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and safety. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 May;69(5):842-56
10. Josh Rubin. www.eastwesthealing.com
11. Dr Ray Peat. www.raypeat.com

What is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K?  “I didn’t even know there was a Vitamin K?” This is usually the answer I get when I start talking about this amazing Vitamin.  Who knew there was a Vitamin K?  Well, to be honest…you should know.   Vitamin K, although discovered back in 1929, has gained new press these days because of its association with increased bone density and decreased artery calcification.  In fact, Vitamin K could be the missing link scientists have been looking for, in solving the Calcium Paradox.  (The Calcium Paradox is the simultaneous excess of calcium in one part of the body, arteries, and lack in another, bones, which may occur regardless of calcium supplementation.)  So are you eating enough foods with Vitamin K?  Do you even know what foods contain Vitamin K?  No?  Well, good thing you are reading this blog…

First:  what is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble Vitamins needed for blood coagulation (blood clotting) increasing metabolic pathways of bone generation and decreasing arterial calcification.  There are two main natural forms of Vitamin K; K1 and K2.

We will discuss both since they have significantly different functions.

Vitamin K1.

Vitamin K1 (also known as Phylloquinone or phytomenadione) was discovered in 1929 by Danish scientist Henrick Dam, and was referred to as Koagulationsvitamin.  As its name implies, Vitamin K1 is involved in blood coagulation.  Without K1 we could bleed to death from a simple paper cut.  Unlike your other fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamin A, D, and E) your body does not store high levels of Vitamin K1 in your tissue.  Luckily your body has a special mechanism that recycles the vitamin, so dietary requirements of Vitamin K1 are minimal.

The best sources of Vitamin K1 are green leafy plants like kale, spinach, collards, chard and broccoli.  There are also smaller amounts of K1 in roots vegetables and fruits.  My personal recommendation for someone in need of more Vitamin K1, is to drink a mineral broth.  Essentially you cook kale spinach, lettuce, chard and any other leafy greens in a pot of filtered water.  After the water turns a pretty green, you remove the vegetables and drink the broth (about a1-3 once a day).  As some of you know I am not a big fan of eating lots of above ground vegetables, especially leafy greens.  Drinking only the mineral broth and not eating the vegetable fibers will protect you from the polyunsaturated fats, vegetable toxins and cellulose found in the vegetables.  For more on this topic refer to my blog Leafy Greens- Essential or toxic?

 Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2, the main storage form in animals, is primarily used to move Calcium around the body.  To be more specific, Vitamin K2 helps Calcium move into the bones and out of the arteries—which is pretty important, right?  Vitamin K2 is sometimes referred to as the “grass-fed” Vitamin.  Westin A. Price, the dentist who discovered Vitamin K2 back in the 1940’s (Yet, he didn’t realize this and termed the Vitamin, “activator x”), noticed a huge correlation between Vitamin K2 levels and the amount of grass an animal ate.  What he realized was the more green leafy plants (grass) these animals ate the higher the Vitamin K2 content was in their milk, egg yolks, organs, and butter.  You see, K2 can be created from K1 in the testes, pancreas and arterial walls of certain animals.   And since we know there are high levels of K1 in leafy green plants (refer back to reading about K1 if I lost you here), it would make sense that this would produce more K2 levels.

Now, I know my vegetarian friends are already thinking, “If animals can produce K2 from K1, can humans do this as well?  Can humans produce our own K2, thus making eating animal foods unnecessary?”  Well, kind of…Humans can produce very small amounts of K2 by the bacteria in our intestinal tract from K1.  However, these very small amounts are not nearly enough to prevent a Vitamin K2 deficiency.  In fact, Vitamin K2 is now being looked at as an essential nutrient; since we now know we cannot produce adequate amounts by our intestinal flora.  In addition, unlike Vitamin K1, K2 is not recycled in the body, creating a daily need for this nutrient.   This means we have to get Vitamin K2 directly from our foods.

What foods contain Vitamin K2?

Vitamin K2 is primarily located in the milk fat of animals and in their organs and fatty tissue.  Good sources are foie gras (goose liver), butter, ghee, egg yolks, and grass-fed meats and organs.  Vitamin K2 can also be synthesized via fermentation in certain foods.  Dutch Gouda cheese, French brie and other cheeses are good sources of fermented foods with high Vitamin K2 levels.  Natto, or fermented soy, is also a great source of Vitamin K2.  As long as you understand the negative effects of soy, this may be the way to go if you are a vegetarian and need more K2.  The only BIG problem with natto is it taste like an old shoe and has the texture of stringy, gooey, slimy cheese…yum.

It wasn’t until 2006 that the US Department of Agriculture along with Tufts University determined the K2 content in most foods.  It has taken years of current research for scientist to realize how different K1 and K2 actually are, and that K2 needs its own daily requirements outside of K1.

The Science behind Vitamin K2.

Bone Health

Current research is linking Vitamin K2 to increased bone calcification and decrease arterial calcification.  In 2000, the team of M. Shiraki studied 241 osteoporotic patients for 2 years.   After 2 years the treated group that ingested 45mg of oral K2 had far lower incidents of repeat fractures. In 2004 another group of Japanese researchers found that vitamin K2 sustains the lumbar bone mineral density (BMD), prevented osteoporotic fractures in patients with age-related osteoporosis, and vertebral fractures in patients with glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis.  They concluded that K2 not only increases bone formation but also suppresses bone re-absorption.  Based on these and many others studies Vitamin K2 is already used in Japan as a way to treat osteoporosis.

As I stated in my Calcium blog, there is much more to increasing bone density than just Calcium.  No nutrient works without its “team”.  Just like you cannot play football with only a quarterback, you cannot build healthy bone with only Calcium.  Your team–Magnesium, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, fats, proteins, sugars and the newest member to this bone building team, Vitamin K2 –are all essential.

Cardiovascular Health

In 2004 the Rotterdam study reported that after following 4,800 individual for 10 years, those who ingested higher levels of Vitamin K2 had lower levels of cardiovascular disease and mortality.  In 2009, a team of researchers from the Netherlands analyzed research from the Prospect-EPIC cohort of over 16,000 women.  They concluded that those who ingested higher levels of K2 had far lower chances of cardiovascular heart disease (CVD).

For years people have tried to understand how the French can eat a diet rich in saturated fats and cholesterol and maintain lower levels of heart disease.  Well, the fact that the French love foie gras, butter and cheese may actually prove to their favor.  These foods are high in saturated fats, proteins, Vitamin A, D, E and Vitamin K2.  Since we now know saturated fat and cholesterol are not the bad guys we were all lead to believe – these foods may be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to the health of your heart and bones.

In addition to helping with osteoporosis and CVD, Vitamin K2 has also been linked to:

Treating Alzheimers patients;

Protecting against certain types of cancers including liver, lung, prostate and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma;

Improving insulin sensitivity in diabetics;

Preventing joint damage; and

Increasing elasticity in skin improving wrinkles and varicose veins.

How much Vitamin K2? 

Most scientific research says we should be consuming around 45mcg of K2/day.  This is equal to about 2 ounces of raw Gouda cheese. In supplement form, 15 mg- 45 mg. of liquid K2 is recommended.  Personally, I use a combination of both: the days I eat more cheese and liver, I use less liquid K2.  The days I eat less Vitamin K2 enriched foods the more I supplement with liquid Vitamin K2.  Every person will be different, but for most people adding in a Vitamin K2 supplement should prove to be beneficial.  I prefer liquid K2 by Thorn research.

There are no known toxicity levels with Vitamin K2.  However, Vitamin K2 foods and supplements can interfere with the activity of oral anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin  (Coumadin). Patients who are using warfarin should only use vitamin K2 supplements with the knowledge of the prescribing physician.  In addition, if you are pregnant or nursing please consult your physician before adding in a Vitamin K2 supplement.

Although, Vitamin K2 research is still in its infancy, it has already proven to be a big player in your bone and cardiovascular health.  As always the best source of all vitamins and minerals is a real food diet.   However, proper supplementation of Vitamin K2 can prove to be beneficial.  If you are concerned about your bone or heart health please consult your physician.

Your Optimal Health Coach,

Kate

Disclaimer:

“I am an exercise physiologist, personal trainer, nutritional and lifestyle coach, not a medical doctor.  I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human disease or physical problem. I do not provide diagnosis, care treatment or rehabilitation of individuals, nor apply medical, mental health or human development principles.  I do not prescribe prescription drugs nor do I tell you to discontinue them.  I provide physical and dietary suggestions to improve health and wellness and to nourish and support normal function and structure of the body.  If you suspect any disease please consult your physician.”

References:

1.  Pearson DA.  “Bone health and osteoporosis: the role of vitamin K and potential antagonism by anticoagulants”. Nutr Clin Pract. 2007 Oct; 22(5):517-44.

2.  Vermeer C.  “Vitamin K: the effect on health beyond coagulation – an overview”.
Food Nutr Res. 2012 Apr 2.

3.  Vermeer C, Theuwissen E.
Vitamin K, osteoporosis and degenerative diseases of aging”.
Menopause Int. 2011 Mar; 17(1):19-23.

4.  Jie KS, Bots ML, Vermeer C, Witteman JC, Grobbee DE.
Vitamin K intake and osteocalcin levels in women with and without aortic atherosclerosis: a population-based study”.
Atherosclerosis. 1995 Jul; 116(1):117-23.

5.  Yoshida T, Miyazawa K, Kasuga I, Yokoyama T, Minemura K, Ustumi K, Aoshima M, Ohyashiki K. “Apoptosis induction of vitamin K2 in lung carcinoma cell lines: the possibility of vitamin K2 therapy for lung cancer”. Int J Oncol. 2003 Sep;23(3):627-32.

6.  Iwamoto J, Takeda T, Sato Y. “Role of vitamin K2 in the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis”. Curr Drug Saf. 2006 Jan;1(1):87-97.

7.  Wallin R, Schurgers L, Wajih N.  “Effects of the blood coagulation vitamin K as an inhibitor of arterial calcification”.
Thromb Res. 2008;122(3):411-7.

8.  Iwamoto J, Takeda T, Sato Y. “Effects of vitamin K2 on osteoporosis”. Curr Pharm Des. 2004;10(21):2557-76.

9.  Gast GC, de Roos NM, Sluijs I, Bots ML, Beulens JW, Geleijnse JM, Witteman JC, Grobbee DE, Peeters PH, van der Schouw YT. “A high menaquinone intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease”. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Sep;19(7):504-10.

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