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Posted by: Trevor
November 7, 2020
Many of you have heard of vitamin K2 and the importance of getting adequate amounts of it. Perhaps you've also heard it helps regulate calcium absorption, improves insulin sensitivity, and enhances dental health. You may even know that it helps rejuvenate skin, strengthen kidneys, and support the heart. But did you also know that K2 does many more things besides those? Evidence is building that K2 is such a powerful nutrient that some researchers are saying it should be re-classified as a hormone.
I should mention though that when I say vitamin K2, I am not in any way also referring to K1. Some people think vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 are just different forms of the same vitamin, but that is not true. K1 and K2 are very different from each other.
High MK-4 Eggs from Outdoor Pastured Chickens
While it is relatively easy to get K1 in your diet, it is far more difficult to get enough K2. Even though your gut is capable of converting limited quantities of K1 into K2, the conversion is inefficient and unreliable in humans, particularly for people with sub-optimal gut health. Animals, on the other hand, are often very good at converting K1 into K2, so it is not surprising that K2 is found in abundance in certain animal products, as we'll see later in this post.
K2 is needed by your body to activate certain proteins which are essential to:
- Calcium metabolism
- Bone health
- Heart health
- Cancer prevention
- Gene expression
- Insulin sensitivity
- Mitochondrial function and energy production
- Nervous system health
So how much K2 do we need? It may surprise you to know that, even though K2 is essential to human life, there is no RDI level for it. That's because, up until recently, little research was being done on K2. So the truth is we don't know exactly how much K2 we need every day. There are some who claim that we are all K2 deficient, and it would not surprise me if this were true, considering our modern diets and lifestyles. K2 is a safe nutrient with no known toxicity even at high doses.
You should also know that there are several different forms of K2, known as subtypes. Specifically these subtypes are called menaquinones (MKs). MK-4 and MK-7 are the most well-known and studied subtypes of K2.
The MK-7 form of K2 is synthesized by bacteria and is found in various foods including certain cheeses, fermented soy, and various supplements. It is also found in natto, the traditional Japanese food made from fermented soy beans. I have never eaten natto, but I understand it is an unusual tasting food. Natto may not be appropriate for some people, because some of us are trying to eliminate soy-based foods from our diets. Still, natto is one way to get K2.
The other form of K2 is MK-4, which is obtained from animal products. It is mostly found in certain types of meat, eggs, and dairy products, especially those which are pasture-raised. Some researchers believe MK-4 is the most absorbable and useful form of vitamin K2. For those of you who are familiar with the work of Weston Price, MK-4 is the nutrient he referred to as Activator X, because he believed it activates vitamins A and D.
One of the best and most convenient sources of MK-4 are the egg yolks from chickens or ducks which eat plenty of green plant material. Their egg yolks are far higher in K2 because of the plants they consume. Other great sources of MK-4 include pasture raised beef, beef liver, chicken, pork, goose, duck, and butter from grass-only cows. Pasture-raised organic animals obtain large quantities of K1 in their diets from the green plants they eat, which their bodies then synthesize into the MK-4 form of K2.
Personally, we find that egg yolks from pastured-raised chickens and ducks are the most reliable and consistent way to get MK-4 into our diets. However, it is essential that the chickens or ducks are raised with plenty of pasture, because their bodies need the K1 in the green material in order to convert it into K2 (MK-4) in their eggs.
We'd like to encourage you to learn more about MK-4, because the potential health benefits are so extensive. There is an excellent article on K2 by Chris Masterjohn you might consider reading. Chris has written for the Weston Price Foundation in the past. There are also good articles by Chris Kesser, Dr. Terry Wahls, and Dr. Steven Lin. Also be sure to check out the information on K2 in the Ray Peat Forum.
If you'd like to buy pasture-raised, certified organic and certified humane soy-free eggs, you can click here to see if we have any in stock. They are delicious and so healthy, but they often sell out quickly.
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