For the busy parents in our community, here is a summation, as provide by Chris Masterjohn, PhD:
Vitamin K2 is important for the utilization of minerals, protects against tooth decay, supports growth and development, is involved in normal reproduction, protects against calcification of the arteries leading to heart disease, and is a major component of the brain. Vitamin K2 works synergistically with the two other “fat-soluble activators” that Dr. Weston A. Price studied, vitamins A and D. Vitamins A and D signal to the cells to produce certain proteins and vitamin K then activates these proteins. Vitamin K2 plays a crucial role in the development of the facial bones, and its presence in the diets of nonindustrialized peoples explains the wide facial structure and freedom from dental deformities that Weston Price observed.
What food should I eat to get vitamin K2?
In 2014 and 2015, the Weston A. Price Foundation ordered lab tests on vitamin K2 levels in a number of foods; the top 10 of which are listed high to low:
1. Emu Oil – which we recommend via Radiant Life
2. Duck Fat
3. Egg Yolks
8. Beef Tallow
9. Chicken Liver
According to the lab results, emu oil has 4,000 menaquinone-4 ng of vitamin K2 per gram, and duck fat has 1,000 menaquinone-4 ng of vitamin K2 per gram. All the other items listed are below 400 menaquinone-4 ng of vitamin K2 per gram. As one of our readers pointed out, animal foods need to be grass-fed in order for meaningful amounts of K2 to be present.
Since I am about to share a very timely offer, I am going to insert this notice here, right up top!
One of our Weston A. Price Foundation members who has been active in the Portland Chapter, Steve Tinksy, owns Wild Mountain Paleo Market. He has offered our community members a 12% discount on any item in the online store, many of which appear on this list above: pasture-raised duck fat, ghee, lard, and beef tallow. The market offers other animal fats we recommend as well, in addition to so many other items!
Visit Wild Mountain Paleo Market and use coupon code is Nourish12 at check out.
You may buy any item in the store with the coupon, except for sale and clearance items which are already discounted. The discount expires at the end of Tuesday, September 19, 2017, so shop now!
What about natto?
The Weston A. Price Foundation didn’t include natto in their tests however, Chris Masterjohn, PhD, previously reported these findings on vitamin K2 levels, and they don’t quite match up exactly with the 2014 and 2015 lab test results I reported above! In Chris Masterjohn’s report, natto offered the highest source of vitamin K2.
In a presentation on fat soluble activators at the 2015 Wise Traditions conference, Sally Fallon Morell illustrated how difficult it can be to get clarity about vitamin levels in food. Lab tests of the same exact food can produce different results!
I do believe natto is an excellent source of vitamin K2, so, I personally do include a tablespoon or 2 of natto in my diet when my dear friend Heidi of Wanpaku Natto provides me some from her homemade batch! She explained to me that natto is a source of the MK-7 form of vitamin K2. I’ll discuss the different forms below.
Dr. Weston A. Price and Vitamin K2
As Chris Masterjohn, PhD, explains in his article On the Trail of the Elusive X-Factor: A Sixty-Two-Year-Old Mystery Finally Solved
In 1945, Dr. Weston Price described “a new vitamin-like activator” that played an influential role in the utilization of minerals, protection from tooth decay, growth and development, reproduction, protection against heart disease and the function of the brain. Using a chemical test, he determined that this compound—which he called Activator X—occurred in the butterfat, organs and fat of animals consuming rapidly growing green grass, and also in certain sea foods such as fish eggs. Dr. Price died before research by Russian scientists became known in the West. These scientists used the same chemical test to measure a compound similar to vitamin K. Vitamin K2 is produced by animal tissues, including the mammary glands, from vitamin K1, which occurs in rapidly growing green plants. A growing body of published research confirms Dr. Price’s discoveries, namely that vitamin K2 is important for the utilization of minerals, protects against tooth decay, supports growth and development, is involved in normal reproduction, protects against calcification of the arteries leading to heart disease, and is a major component of the brain. Vitamin K2 works synergistically with the two other “fat-soluble activators” that Price studied, vitamins A and D. Vitamins A and D signal to the cells to produce certain proteins and vitamin K then activates these proteins.Vitamin K2 plays a crucial role in the development of the facial bones, and its presence in the diets of nonindustrialized peoples explains the wide facial structure and freedom from dental deformities that Weston Price observed.
Please read the rest of this article on the Weston A. Price Foundation’s website.
Different Forms of Vitamin K
Chris explains in his article The Ultimate Vitamin K2 Resource that there are different forms of vitamin K and even vitamin K2:
Vitamin K1 is primarily found in plant foods and is most abundant in leafy greens. Vitamin K2 is only found in animal foods and fermented plant foods. The term “vitamin K2 ” actually refers to a collection of more specific forms known as menaquinones that are all abbreviated “MK” with a specific number attached: for example, MK-4, MK-7, MK-10, and so on. [See this overview chart as a visual aid.]
Does it matter whether you eat one form or another? Absolutely. There are two reasons for this, so let’s deal with them one at a time.
First, once we eat foods with vitamin K in them, our bodies handle the different forms differently. Consider these examples:
Vitamin K1 travels to our livers more effectively than it does to our bones or blood vessels. The liver is where we use vitamin K to make the proteins involved in blood clotting, so vitamin K1 is better at supporting blood clotting than it is at providing other health benefits.
MK-7 is much more effective than K1 at reaching bone. This doesn’t just make it good for bones: our bones use vitamin K to produce a hormone known as osteocalcin, which improves metabolic and hormonal health and increases exercise performance. Thus, MK-7 better supports these health benefits than K1 . The portion of MK-7 that reaches the liver, moreover, stays active in the liver much longer than K1 before being broken down; as a result, MK-7 is even better than K1 at supporting blood clotting.
MK-4 is taken up by our tissues very rapidly after we consume it. While it hasn’t been studied as carefully as MK-7, it may be less effective than MK-7 at reaching liver and bone but more effective at reaching most other tissues. This would make it better at protecting those tissues from calcium deposits and cancer development and supporting sex hormone production through its direct actions within our sex organs.
Overall, then, the collection of different vitamin K2 compounds better supports all the health benefits listed above than vitamin K1 because they better reach the tissues that matter.
Question: How much K2 is recommended for adults and for children?
Answer: Unfortunately we do not have any solid numbers on the optimal or minimum intake of K vitamins, neither from modern scientific analysis nor from what people consumed in optimal traditional diets. However, we do know that virtually all adults have some degree of deficiency, whether this is very small or very substantial, and a recent study suggests that children are much more likely to be deficient, so children may actually need more because they are growing.