Book Report

Book Report: Vitamin K2 And the Calcium Paradox

Vitamin K2 And The Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life by Kate Rheaume-Bleue

This is a very well researched presentation that highlights how the calcium dogma has missed the point. Vitamin K2 is hardly ever discussed as an important factor in the body, but we will see how it impacts more than just calcium.

First a quick definition:

Vitamin K2 is the cofactor for an enzyme called vitamin K–dependent carboxylase. This enzyme, once and only once it is activated by vitamin K2, alters the structure of osteocalcin and MGP to allow those proteins to bind calcium (see the sidebar “Gamma-carboxylation” for the keener-level details). Once these proteins have the ability to bind calcium, they can work wonders.


Basically, without Vitamin K2, certain enzymes aren’t activated therefor they do not complete their physiological tasks. Osteocalcin is involved in bone metabolism, but it certainly does not stop there. Here are a few citations from the book:

  • new research shows that osteocalcin acts as a hormone that causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin and increases sensitivity to insulin at the cellular level.
  • vitamin K2, essential for osteocalcin to function, is likely a critical nutrient in preventing and treating type 2 diabetes.
  • Men’s bones, via secretion of osteocalcin, actually help regulate testosterone production.11 This impacts sperm production and survival in the testes. No doubt this is the mechanism that underlies the traditional wisdom of many cultures that men preparing to become parents consume plenty of K2-rich foods.
  • Vitamin K2–activated MGP is the strongest inhibitor of tissue calcification presently known. Its pivotal importance for cardiovascular health is demonstrated by the fact that there seems to be no effective alternative mechanism for preventing calcification in blood vessels.13 In other words, when vitamin K2 is deficient, the calcium plaque buildup of atherosclerosis is unavoidable—and this is where things get spooky

That is quite a list!

Kate mentions Weston A. Price, a dentist who traveled the world in the 30’s to figure out why some groups who hadn’t been exposed to modern foods had such amazing teeth. He saw a very quick drop off in oral health as soon as flour and sugar were introduced into cultures. He ended up discovering a fat-soluble nutrient as being key, but it wasn’t until decades later that it was identified; vitamin K2.

So, a change in diet can produce dramatic health consequences, and this appears to be a key reason why:

unlike K1, vitamin K2 is not recycled. That is why, as studies have shown, humans can develop a K2 deficiency in as little as seven days on a vitamin K–deficient diet, which is one major factor in why inadequate vitamin K2 levels are so common.

Great, so we just need to ensure a diet that has sufficient K2. That shouldn’t be hard right? Well, no – unless you buy the most common products available at grocery stores. You see, grain fed animals are Vitamin K deficient. This note below was one of the most impactful I had read:

Vitamin K1 is abundant in the membrane of the chloroplast, the part of a plant cell that captures sunlight for photosynthesis. When cows, chickens or pigs consume green, chlorophyll-containing plants, they ingest phylloquinone (K1), which is then converted to menaquinone (K2). Grazing animals accumulate vitamin K2 in their tissues in direct proportion to the amount of K1 in their diet.2 The lack of chlorophyll in grains means little K1 and little or no K2 in grain-fed animal foods. The K2-cholorophyll connection is also responsible for a unique characteristic of the fat of bona fide grass-fed foods: a distinct sunny yellow or orange tinge. Vitamin K1 in green plants is almost always present alongside (but entirely distinct from) beta-carotene, another chlorophyll nutrient. Beta-carotene is the pigment that imparts an orange color to fruit and vegetables. Carrots, for example, are famous for their high beta-carotene content. Beta-carotene is also abundant in green plants—the yellow tone is just disguised by other pigments. When animals consuming green plants convert K1 to K2, beta-carotene hitches a ride. So, the fat of grass-fed animals is high in menaquinone and tends to have a more intense yellow or orange hue than the fat of non-grass-fed animals. This is a good rule of thumb to follow when selecting K2-rich foods: in general, the more yellow or orange the fat, the higher the K2 content.

The big take away here is that grass-fed meats are very important to say the least. In many places you have to seek them out…it is not easy. But if you like your teeth and bones to be strong, and desire to have calcium shuttled there and not your arteries, it is worth the effort. There are supplements available and some people may have a need for these, especially if you can’t get grass fed products. The other tidbit here that wasn’t mentioned in the book, but statins (the cholesterol medications) can block the endogenous production of K2 in the body. Whew,  that was a lot! Please reach out if you want more info.

This Book Report collection is meant to provide some of the best take-home points from the health and science genre I read. I will continue to go thru my notes of the 160+ and counting (as of January 2019) Kindle books I have on file. To view ALL the notes I saved on this one AND many others without a Book Report post yet, THAT IS ALSO SEARCHABLE, please click here.

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