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Vitamin K: Facts and Fiction

The Truth about Vitamin K 2

If you read my last newsletter, you know that one of the main ways I try to save people money is by helping them to avoid supplements they do not need. Right now, Natutal Factors is mounting a huge ad campaign to convince everybody that their version of Vitamin K 2 and their Vitamin D3 and K 2 are absolutely necessary. They have even paid for time on the Dr. Oz show to promote this product and as I write this most of you are convinced that Vitamin K 2 is essential to your health. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Vitamin K 1 is found in most leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts and even fruits such as avocado, kiwi and grapes. When Vitamin K 1 is absorbed from your food it goes to your gut where it is converted to Vitamin K 2, also known as MK-4 which the natural form of Vitamin K. It is stored in the liver, brain, kidneys and pancreas. Since animals also form Vitamin K 2 in their guts it is also found in its active MK-4 form in meat, eggs and dairy products.

Vitamin K 2 along with calcium and Vitamin D is directly involved in bone metabolism and the active form is known as Menaquinone 4 or MK-4. An average healthy person consumes enough food containing Vitamin k to prevent any possible bone loss or fractures. The only segment of the population that has a Vitamin K deficiency includes those people who have chronic liver damage, alcoholics and a large number of premature babies. Other people with Vitamin K deficiency would include those with Crohn’s diseases, diverticulitis and people with undiagnosed celiac’s disease. This occurs because the intestinal gut is diseased and cannot convert the Vitamin K1 to Vitamin K4 (MK-$) the active form.

The Natural Factors form of Vitamin K is not natural but is actually a genetically modified form of Vitamin K in which the K-1 is fermented and converted to the MK-7 form of Vitamin K from soybeans (natto). Although studies show that the MK-4 version prevents fractures and bone loss by 87%, there are no studies to show that the MK-7 version does the same. I find it interesting that the genuine natural form of Vitamin K2 that actually performs functions in your body is being dismissed by Natural Factors and that their genetically modified form, which has no activity, is being touted by this major natural supplement manufacturer.

Arterial Calcification

The people at Natural Factors, in particular their paid spokesperson, Kate Rheaume-Bleue are telling us that unless we have Vitamin K in our bodies, then our arteries will calcify and eventually block the blood flow to the heart. This is a gross distortion of the facts. Only people with cirrhosis’ of the liver, alcoholics and those suffering from liver diseases such as Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C could benefit from taking Vitamin K supplements because they are the only ones at risk. The other group of people requiring Vitamin K supplementation would be those with irritable bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis. The rest of us are in no danger at all. This is yet another example of a naturopath with little or no knowledge of physiology, pharmacology or histology pretending to be a knowledgeable health professional. When will these people stick to the things they know rather than wandering off into areas they know nothing about? They are actually scaring you into buying this product.

Blood Clotting

When you cut your finger and the skin is exposed, the outside air triggers a response from your blood stream in which tiny little platelets rush to the surface to reduce and eventually stop the flow of blood from leaving your body. This is known as blood clotting and Vitamin K is an essential part of that process. As I stated earlier, most healthy people have enough Vitamin K and when they bleed the clotting process starts immediately and usually ends with positive results. If you are taking blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin), plavix or even just 81mg of coated aspirin, then the use of a Vitamin K 2 supplement could very seriously interfere with the activity of your blood thinners. The purpose of your blood thinners is to prevent any blood clots from getting stuck in your brain or heart which could lead to a stroke or heart attack. If you are on blood thinners and take Vitamin K2 you are putting yourself at serious risk. And yet, this major issue is glossed over in Natural Factors presentation as a minor little fact rather than being put forward with strong emphasis. We all get angry when drug companies skim over the side-effects so fast that our physicians forget them immediately but in the Natural Supplement field we would assume that this would not happen.

In her book, Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox, Ms. Rheaume-Bleue spends a great deal of time and effort distorting the truth.

Vitamin K 2 Supernutrient: She claims that this is a fat soluble vitamin that humans thrived on and has been ignored for seventy years. In the last seventy years we learned the value of eating leafy green vegetables which do a multitude of good things in our bodies including the providing of an abundant supply of Vitamin K. We also know that Vitamin K 1 from food is converted to Vitamin K 2 and stored in our bodies for multiple uses.

Grass Fed versus Grain Fed. She claims that the switch from grass fed livestock to grain fed livestock causes a deficiency of Vitamin K in our food supply. Absolutely false because no matter what  livestock are fed, Vitamin K is produced in the gut by intestinal bacteria and converted to Vitamin K 2.

Calcium Prescribing by Physicians: This naturopath claims to tell physicians how to prescribe since they always tell their patients to take Vitamin D with their calcium and not Vitamin D and Vitamin K together. They do this because physicians know we need extra D for calcium transport and that Vitamin K is produced by the body itself and not needed in supplement form.

Transfats: In her book she claims that the Vitamin K 2 sold in health food stores is synthetic and interferes with normal Vitamin K metabolism. The Vitamin K 2 known as methaquinone 4 or MK-4 is natural and extracted from plants whereas the version she pushes is an inactive genetically modified form of menaquinone known as MK-7.

When Natural Factors, Janet Jacks, Kate Rheame-Bleue and Dr. Oz all get together to push products, it seems to me that they only care about profit and have no concern for the health of individuals. The medical profession tries to go by the axiom “Do no harm”. Maybe the health profession should consider adopting that phrase also before their next super promotion kills someone.