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Health Benefits of Vitamin K-2 or Natto

Updated on October 23, 2016
Chuck Bluestein profile image

At age 16 I was a volunteer at a hospital bacteriology lab. I became a chemist for U.S. government. Then I studied health & related fields.

Vitamin K Helps Calcium to Go Where it Needs to Go

Vitamin K in Arteries
Vitamin K in Arteries | Source
Orange Waterfall
Orange Waterfall | Source

"Vitamin K is the New Vitamin D" -Dr. Mercola

Vitamin K was discovered in 1929 and it was thought to be only required for healthy blood clotting. Studies have been done on vitamin K-1 and vitamin K-2. They are also called vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. It is one of the few fat soluble vitamins along with vitamin A, D and E. This was written in November of 2011.

Vitamin K helps with the clotting of blood and comes from the word koagulation (coagulation). It also helps the calcium in the body to go where it needs to go, like helping the bones to have more calcium and the arteries to have less calcium. Links below are in blue. Also you can right click BACK button to see a menu of webpages that you were at for superior navigation.

Nattō

Thousands of years ago in Japan a family put their soybeans in the barn on some hay. It was raining and the rain leaked in and got the soybeans and hay wet. It created a a bacterial growth on the soybeans. This is called nattō or natto. There is another story from Wikipedia:

There is also the story about Minamoto no Yoshiiewho was on a battle campaign in northeastern Japan between 1086 and 1088 when one day they were attacked while boiling soybeans for their horses. They hurriedly packed up the beans, and did not open the straw bags until a few days later, by which time the beans had fermented. The soldiers ate it anyway, and liked the taste, so they offered some to Yoshiie, who also liked the taste.

Wikipedia also says "Nattō can be an acquired taste because of its powerful smell, strong flavor, and slippery texture." I eat nattō and it tastes kind of bland to me. Continue reading to see how the form of vitamin K that is in nattō is unique and the most powerful by far.

Vitamin K-1 and Vitamin K-2

Vitamin K-1 or vitamin K1 occurs in green leafy vegetables. This food is important for arterial health for other reasons so make sure to eat it regularly. I like the taste of organic celery stalks and it helps to lower high blood pressure. But I also eat the leaves at the top of the stalks.

Vitamin K-2 occurs in organ meats, egg yolks, dairy products and especially in cheese. Vegans like Bill Clinton eat none of the above. Some K1 can be converted into K2 by the body. The vitamin K-2 is much more effective at helping calcium to go into the bones and removing calcium from the arteries.

Osteoporosis and Atherosclerosis

So people need vitamin K to help prevent osteoporosis. The plaque that builds up in the arteries is mostly made of calcium. This plaque hardens and blocks the arteries leading to strokes and heart attacks, the first and third leading causes of death in the U.S. They are also called cerebrovascular accidents and myocardialal infarctions. To prevent the second leading cause of death in the United States make sure to see my article, Cancer and the Power of Vitamin D.

The issue with the plaque is complex and still there is much that is not known. It is believed that the plaque is caused by damage to the arteries that may be caused due to many things like the chlorine in drinking water. Then some of this plaque breaks off and lodges in the brain or heart causing strokes and heart attacks. But studies with vitamin K-2 shows that it greatly reduces the above. For more information on osteoporosis see this article The Real Cause of Osteoporosis or Weak Bones

According to the Rotterdam study (see below) the effects of higher ingestion of vitamin K was the reduction in all-cause mortality was 26%. The reduction in coronary artery disease was 57%. The reduction in severe aortic calcification was 52%.

The MK-4 and MK-7 Forms of Vitamin K-2

There are 2 forms of vitamin K-2. The above mentioned sources of vitamin K-2 are in the MK-4 form. The only known food source of vitamin K-2 in the MK-7 (menaquinone-7) form comes from natto. The MK-4 form stays in the blood for a few hours after it is ingested. The MK-7 form of vitamin K-2 stays in the blood for a few days after it is ingested. Also there is 27 times the K-2 in natto that there is in cheese. So it is better for everyone, including vegans to get their vitamin K-2 from natto or a supplement with the MK-7 form of K2.

Dr Joseph Mercola (D.O.-- doctor of osteopathy or osteopathic physician) says that the MK-7 form of vitamin K-2 is the new vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for many things including strong bones. The RDA for vitamin K-1 and K-2 combined is 65 mcgs for adult women and 80 mcgs for adult men. But this is just for the clotting. To get the full effects someone should consume at least 100 mcgs of the MK-7 form of vitamin K-2. Dr Mercola says that vitamin D and vitamin K-2 work very well together since they are both required for strong bones and cardiovascular health.

Studies

I have a 10 page article on this that has 69 references. One study showed that K2 supplementation reduced vertebral fractures by 60%, hip fractures by 77% and all non-vertebral fractures by 81%. From Cockayne S, Adamson J, Lanham-News S, et al. Vitamin K and the prevention of fractures: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized control trials. Arch Intern Med . 2006 Jun 26;166(12):1256-61.

One of the most convincing studies showing the cardioprotective benefits of vitamin K-2 can be seen in a well-controlled trial called the Rotterdam Heart Study . It is a Dutch trial that tracked 4,800 participant for seven years. The Rottterdam Heart Study revealed that particpants who ingested the greatest quantities of K2 in their diet experienced a 57% reduction in death from heart disease from those that ingested the least. This suggests that vitamin K-2 may confer cardiovascular benefits by inhibiting arterial calcification.

Conclusion

Below are supplements but I feel more confident from getting it from the food source, natto. Some health food stores carry natto but currently Whole Foods markets do not carry it. Asian supermarkets with products from Japan carry it. Also get some seaweed to eat since seaweed is high in iodine that many experts say that Americans do not get enough of. Also it contains trace minerals that are not abundant in the soil. It is due to many factors but the Japanese are the longest living people of any country with recorded birth dates.

On a personal note at age 17 I was doing double flying front kicks against a heavy bag at karate school on my own. My foot got caught on the top of the bag and flipped me on to my back. I do not know if natto would have made a difference but I fractured a vertebrae-- broke it into 2 pieces. In other words, I broke my back but I still could function since the spinal cord was not ruptured.

From Book Below

This information was also in the article but I focused on the 2 main benefits. From amazon.com:

Fortunately, a new supplemental form of vitamin K2, menaquinone-7 (MK-7), is becoming more widely available. Vitamin K2, specifically MK-7, is showing great promise as a natural treatment for heart disease and bone loss. Available in soy products and as a nutritional supplement, MK-7 is clinically proven to be safe and effective. It may also be helpful for lowering cholesterol, preventing Alzheimer's disease, and treating some forms of cancer. 

Health Benefits of Vitamin K2: A Revolutionary Natural Treatment for Heart Disease and Bone Loss
Health Benefits of Vitamin K2: A Revolutionary Natural Treatment for Heart Disease and Bone Loss

Fortunately, a new supplemental form of vitamin K2, menaquinone-7 (MK-7), is becoming more widely available. Vitamin K2, specifically MK-7, is showing great promise as a natural treatment for heart disease and bone loss. Available in soy products and as a nutritional supplement, MK-7 is clinically proven to be safe and effective. It may also be helpful for lowering cholesterol, preventing Alzheimer's disease, and treating some forms of cancer.

 

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