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Vitamin K2 for Healthy Bones and Arteries

Journal of Gluten Sensitivity Autumn 2016 Issue


Image: CC--Jessica Spengler

Celiac.com 10/18/2016 - Vitamin K was discovered in 1929 and named for the German word koagulation with Herrick Dam and Edward A. Doisy receiving the Nobel Prize for their research in 1943. But Vitamin K is a multi-functional nutrient.

Vitamin K1 or phyloquinone is found in green leafy vegetables like spinach and used by the liver for blood coagulation within 10 hours.

Vitamin K2 or menaquinone (referred to as MK-4 through MK-10) comes from natto (fermented soybeans), organ meats, egg yolks, and raw milk cheeses. It circulates throughout the body over a 24 hour period and is synthesized in the human gut by microbiota according to the Annual Review of Nutrition 2009. Aging and antibiotic use weakens the body's ability to produce K2 so supplementation needs to be considered.

The Rotterdam Study in the Journal of Nutrition 2004 brought into focus the role of K2 as an inhibitor of calcification in the arteries and the major contributor to bone rebuilding osteocalcin- NOT calcium supplementation that many health professionals had recommend. The study reports K2 resulted in 50 percent reduction in arterial calcification, 50 percent reduction in cardiovascular deaths, and 25 percent reduction in all cause mortality. K1 had no effect on cardiovascular health.

Dennis Goodman, M.D. in Vitamin K2- The Missing Nutrient for Heart and Bone Disease describes why most western diets are deficient in K2. Dietary awareness of Vitamin K has focused on anti-clotting since warfarin was approved as a medicine (in 1948 it was launched by the Germans as rat poisoning) and President Eisenhower was administered warfarin following his heart attack. Little attention was paid to any other nutritional importance this essential fat-soluble vitamin could provide.

Menaquinones (K2 or MK) are rapidly depleted without dietary intake of natto or animal sources needed for repletion which results in bone health issues, especially in menopause. Without it, the body does not use calcium and Vitamin D3 to activate osteoblasts to rebuild bone. Menaquinones cause cells to produce a protein called osteocalcin which incorporates the calcium into the bone. Without it, calcium moves into the artery wall and soft tissues of the body leading to hardening of the arteries and osteoporosis.

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The benefit of K2 is not new research. In 1997 Shearer presented the roles of vitamins D and K in bone health and osteoporosis prevention in the Proceedings of Nutrition Society. The Osteoporosis International meeting in New Zealand 2013 re-emphasized this nutrient's importance proclaiming the best treatment for osteoporosis is achieving a strong peak bone mass before 30 years old and increasing Vitamin K2 food sources in the diet throughout life.

The richest food source of K2 is the Japanese fermented soybean natto, which is produced with Bacillus natto, a bacterium that converts K1 to MK-7. Fermented cheeses like Swiss and Jarlsberg contain Mk-8 and Mk-9 which can be converted to K2 at a 20 to 40 percent lower rate than from natto, but more appealing to the western taste buds. Grass-fed beef and egg yolks are the most common source of K2 in the American diet.

For those who have not acquired a taste for fermented soybeans or natto, my nutrition mentor, Adelle Davis, had it right when she recommended eating liver once a week. Celiacs need to be sure that their diets include ample red meats, eggs and fermented cheeses or yogurt or else dietary supplementation with Vitamin K2 (MK-4) is recommended. Without it, bones can become soft tissues and arteries "turn to stone" or calcified.

A Chart of Vitamin K levels in Foods can provide insight into food choices for menaquinone compared to Vitamin K1. It was adapted from Schurgers et al. Nutritional intake of vitamins K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone) in the Netherlands. J Nutr. Environ. Med. 1999.

 

Food K1 MK-4 MK-7,8,9
Meats 0.5-5 1-30 0.1-2
Fish 0.1-1 0.1-2  
Green Vegetables 100-750    
Natto 20-40   900-1200
Cheese 0.5-10 0.5-10 40-80
Eggs (yolk) 0.5-2.5 10-25  

 

The American Heart Association and many medical professionals who advocated no organ meats or red meat and egg yolks, deprived Americans of primary sources of Vitamin K2 which is essential for bone and cardiovascular health.

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2 Responses:

 
Nechama
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said this on
24 Oct 2016 9:05:41 AM PDT
Amazing new info for me. However I do not eat soy, hard cheeses and whole eggs (omelets etc), only as an ingredient within a food. So, I guess, the chicken livers are my only source of good "K". Replies welcome.

 
Barbara
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said this on
29 Oct 2016 8:55:07 AM PDT
Great article, but I have a somewhat odd question. Would someone who has had a heart transplant be advised to take this? My husband just had one last month and has to avoid things that may have live bacteria, such as raw honey or anything unpasteurized, due to the high doses of immunosuppressives he now takes. He was diagnosed with osteopenia and would really like to take the K2 to try to build his bones. Thanks so much for any input!




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The full celiac panel checks TTG IGA and IGG, DGP IGA and IGG, IGA, EMA as Jmg stated above. Your test included TTG IGA and IGA. If your IGA was low, a low on TTG IGA would be inconclusive. But your IGA is fine. A high on any one test is a positive for celiac and should lead to an endoscopy for confirmation. So I'd get tested for TTG IGG, DGP IGA and IGG and EMA since there are symptoms. Warning I'm not a doc.

I did a gluten challenge for my endoscopy and requested a second blood test after my follow up with the consultant. I never did see those results but my GP said no celiac was indicated: Which left me gluten free for life, that wasn't an option after the challenge, but with a less satisfactory diagnosis, one by omission rather than the definitive 'you're celiac' one I was expecting. Yes! I have been 'properly' glutened on a couple of occasions but on several more I've detected a change or a reaction based on what could only have been trace amounts. NCGS is as yet poorly understood but patients tend to have more neuro symptoms than digestive. That's definitely been my experience, although it was only after going gluten free that I realised quite how many digestive symptoms I had just been living with as 'normal'. Close friends and family get the full explanation. 'I have an auto immune disease similar to 'coeliac etc.' If they stay awake long enough I'll tell them about the less than perfect testing process I went through or the Columbia Med research and the possibility of a blood test soon. They can see the difference between me on gluten and off it so they understand its not all in my head* If I'm ordering food in a restauarant or asking questions about food prep etc I will often just self declare as coeliac - people are aware of that and understand those requests are medical rather than fad diet based. I don't have any problem doing this, I'm not going to claim that and then cheat on dessert for instance and to be honest I expect once the research is complete the two conditions may wind up alongside others as different faces of the same coin. In the meantime I safeguard my health and avoid getting into a detailed conversation about genuine gluten sensitivity versus faux hipster posturing! *apart from the bits which are in my head

I originally had it on my face and scalp. (22 years ago) First biopsy with dermatologist came back as folliculitis. Then when I had a new outbreak on my upper back, she was able to remove a nice clean blister and we got the diagnosis of DH. She started me on Dapsone (100mg/day) and gluten free diet. Now I take 25-50 mg/day. My understanding at the time was that DH was the skin version of Celiac. Did a lot of research on my own. I met Dr. Peter Green at a Gluten free Vendors Fair and he said that a diagnosis of DH IS a diagnosis of Celiac, even if no other symptoms. So I stay gluten-free

I was diagnosed with DH in 1995. I don't remember how long it took to clear up after going gluten-free, I was taking 100 mg Dapsone, now I take 25-50. The only true treatment is being gluten-free. Iodine will not cause a flareup but it can aggravate one. I don't mind continuing the Dapsone. It helps with the occasional slip. But I am as close to 100% gluten-free as possible.

Although this was an incredibly informative and great post, I only took exception to one thing you said and that is what I put in bold lettering above. Eating gluten free is very healthy, if done correctly. The Western American diet is very unhealthy but it doesn't have to be either. If you feel badly after being on the gluten-free diet for awhile, you either have an intolerance or allergy to something you are eating or you are not eating the right foods....gluten-free or not. I am glad they found out you had Celiac, even though most people do not want that news. The things that can happen from going a long time undiagnosed are not pretty and can cause more grief than Celiac itself.