Imagine, if you will, lots and lots of glorious calcium surging its way through your blood stream. Humble calcium; strengthener of bones, booster of metabolism, PMS punisher and cancer fighter. Calcium has a very important place in human bodies, especially for women. During menopause, women start to loose calcium at a rapid rate. If a woman doesn’t have a good supply of calcium in her body once this process starts, skeletal problems can occur. And nobody wants to break a hip!
We’ve all been taught that Vitamin D is essential to calcium absorption. Without enough of it, our bodies won’t produce enough calcitriol, which is the “active” form of D that aids the uptake of calcium from our gut to our bloodstream, among other things. But then how does our system know to deliver that calcium to our bones, rather than it randomly being deposited in, say, our arteries? Here’s where the K vitamins come into play.
The K vitamins play very important roles in our bodies, including blood clotting (K1) and directing calcium to be deposited in the right places (K2). K1 is a vitamin found in many of the healthy leafy greens we eat (or are supposed to eat!). It’s also found in the nutrient rich grasses that free-range animals feed on. Our human bodies aren’t very adept at converting vitamin K1 to K2, especially the really important MK-7 version of K2 (hang in there with me), so we need to get it from an outside source; animals. Many animals, including the popular ones for eating, can convert K1 to K2. The majority of us are no longer getting this vitamin from animal sources though, for two reasons:
The big “fat freakout” of the 90’s. We moved away from eating fat in general, and especially when it came to animal fat. K2 is a fat soluble vitamin. It’s stored in fat. So, to get the vitamin from an animal source, which is essentially the only place we can get it (the only veggie source is Natto, which judging by reactions on YouTube, us westerners don’t particularly enjoy it.), we’d have to eat… you guessed it, the fat! Full fat yogurt, cheese, dark meat, organ meat. Not many of use are down with that anymore (although that trend is changing).
Mass production of meat meant no more “grazing” for animals. Animals need to graze on nutrient rich grass in order to get the K1 they convert into K2. Well, when you’re producing enough meat to, err, meet the demands of a cheeseburger crazed nation, grazing is no longer an option. Of course, “free range” meat and animal products are back in favor, but they can be much more expensive than their grain-fed counterparts, and no fast food restaurant is going to pay the price for grass-fed meat.
So here we are, with a deficiency of K2 that is pretty detrimental to our bodies. We possibly have calcium building up in our arteries, rather than being directed to our skeletal structures. How can we fix it? Well, you can start feeling less guilty about that butter you spread on your toast (as long as it’s organic butter from free range cows). Or, you can take an MK-7 K2 supplement (I like Nutrigold).
A supplement is the easier (although much less tasty) route. A warning though, K vitamins can interact with anti-coagulant drugs and should be avoided if you’re on blood thinners. If you have any concerns about adding a new supplement to your routine, consult your physician. Otherwise, your body is likely only going to benefit from an increased intake of this underrated wonder vitamin!