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Vitamin K2
July 13, 2012 4:03 AM   Subscribe

Vitamin K2, a fat-soluble vitamin also known as menaquinone, was long thought to be a different version of the more commonly known Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone, best known for its role in clotting). But recent studies have shown that poor Vitamin K2 status is associated with a number of other health issues, including increased risk of coronary artery disease and frature. By directing calcium from soft tissues into your bones, K2 reduces soft-tissue calcificiation, including hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), and increases bone density.

Studies also suggest that Vitamin K2 improves insulin resistance in older men, can be beneficial for patients with leukemia, and may even help patients with Parkinson's by improving electron transport within mitochondria.

Vitamin K2 is found in fermented products, organ meats, and high-fat dairy products or eggs from animals fed on green grass and plants. The most potent dietary source of K2 is natto, is a fermented soybean dish popular in areas of Japan. Intestinal bacteria produce some Vitamin K2, although the degree to which bacteria-produced intestinal K2 is absorbed appears to be under debate. However, evidence suggests that factors such as antibiotic use and gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn's disease can reduce K2 status.
posted by pie ninja (64 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wonder if this is why vegans still have a risk of coronary artery disease similar to their non-vegan counterparts despite their "healthier" lifestyle choice.
posted by Renoroc at 4:15 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another reason why switching from butter to old-fashioned margarine was actually a pretty bad idea?
posted by Segundus at 4:27 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bring me the richest source of this incredible new vitamin!
The most potent dietary source of K2 is natto
Bring me the organ meats!
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:27 AM on July 13, 2012 [68 favorites]


I remember my mother eating LITS of salads. She had a deficiency of K and did die of heart disease. I don't like salad so much but I do like organ meats.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:32 AM on July 13, 2012


I'm still not eating natto.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:41 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Pretty soon food packages labels are going to run out of room to contain the list of all the things they are free from/rich in. Fat, sugar, carb, gluten, transfats antioxidants, omega3 and K2.
posted by DU at 4:44 AM on July 13, 2012


Yay! I eat a lot of these things! Except for natto.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:46 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fortunately for me, I *like* natto.
posted by leviathan3k at 4:47 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Just finished my morning natto on rice with veggies. (It's satisfying and in no way bad! I mean, it's not pizza but between the k2 and the nattokinase, a fine way to start the day.)
posted by Auden at 4:50 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Chopped liver, Braunschweiger, fried chicken livers ... today is a good day.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:53 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The French diet wins again. Want to lower your risk of heart disease? Eat Foie Gras.
posted by vacapinta at 5:02 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Vitamin K2 is found in fermented products

Man, I love beer.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:04 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Some sources consider fish eggs to also be a good source of vitamin K2.

Eat more caviar!
posted by needled at 5:05 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I will try this natto.. what should I expect in flavor?

To Google!
posted by Malice at 5:15 AM on July 13, 2012


I have no idea what natto tastes like, because I can't get past THE SMELL.

(My mom and I would flee to other parts of the house and leave dad by himself at the dining table with his bowl of rice and natto whenever my dad decided he just had to have some natto. Serves him right for mocking my mom and I tearing away at Korean braised ham hocks.)
posted by needled at 5:22 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The French diet wins again. Want to lower your risk of heart disease? Eat Foie Gras.

Not if you live in California.
posted by Frayed Knot at 5:25 AM on July 13, 2012


Natto: the Sticky, Slimy, Stinky Soybean: Natto, in fact, does not taste like death. Exactly the opposite, it tastes like life. Only it's life that just happens to taste and smell like moldy sweat socks, reminiscent of an old roommate.

I ordered natto one time by accident in a restaurant -- we were just sort of blindly ordering a ton of things for a large group, and I ended up with the natto in front of me. It's not a taste I love, but anyone who likes the strong, skunky, fermented kinds of flavors would like it.
posted by Forktine at 5:26 AM on July 13, 2012


I will try this natto.. what should I expect in flavor?


Diaper pail and sneaker, with notes of nail polish remover and Augean stable. And the texture is...unique.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:29 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm still not eating natto.

I have a coworker who once spent a week in Japan on business, and, according to him, the food at the hotel was so bad that the best option for breakfast was the natto. I have my doubts about this, since Japanese breakfasts tend to be sort of delightful, but I have no reason to doubt him.

Also, I pity him.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:30 AM on July 13, 2012




Metafilter: fermented products, organ meats, and high-fat dairy products or eggs from animals fed on green grass and plants.
posted by Fizz at 5:40 AM on July 13, 2012


Did someone say Braunschweiger? I don't see any K2 in there, but I loves me some liverwurst. And Braunschweiger is not liverwurst?!
posted by joecacti at 5:40 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I can finally tell my wife that my occasional lunch of Braunschweiger on crackers is healthy and not going to kill me?

Oh yes. Sweet justice.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:40 AM on July 13, 2012


I will try this natto.. what should I expect in flavor?

I tried natto from a sushi chef that has put some amazing things in front of me, things I would never have considered eating otherwise. He smiled indulgently and told me its strong but delicious. I trustingly tried a bean and was overwhelmed by a sharp, bitter, almost coffee bean-like flavor. It wasn't bad but I did not have another.
posted by Vysharra at 5:43 AM on July 13, 2012


Oh hey, it's in cottage cheese. I eat that all the time. Hopefully I'm covered... but I'm still going to try natto.
posted by Malice at 5:43 AM on July 13, 2012


My wife was totally grossed out when I brought home a tube of Braunschweiger a few weeks ago. She was a sport, though, and gave it a try. She won't admit it, but I'm pretty sure she liked it.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:55 AM on July 13, 2012


I will try this natto.. what should I expect in flavor?

Ever had engivita, or nutritional yeast? Kinda like that with a hint of Esrom cheese (shudders) at the end. Nutty, cheesy maybe even a bit smokey. I find some brands taste better than others.

If you try it I would serve it up with lots of thinly sliced green onion and, unless you like really slimy beans? Don't stir the natto too much. I'd also get some extra japanese hot mustard and shoyu which it is usually served with.
posted by squeak at 6:01 AM on July 13, 2012


All you new natto eaters, have some rice ready! I can't eat natto on its own, but stirred into some rice, it's okay. That cuts down on the slimy-goopeyness, too.
posted by SirNovember at 6:17 AM on July 13, 2012


...or you could always whip up some miso soup and add your natto.
posted by Auden at 6:22 AM on July 13, 2012


Thanks for all the tips! I have in fact eaten Nutritional Yeast, I was vegan for a long time, so I'm used to flavors like that. I think I'll serve it up on a bed of white rice with green onion and hot mustard.

Don't stir it? Why not?
posted by Malice at 6:24 AM on July 13, 2012


It rouses up the evil spirits within and if you do not know the proper incantations things can get uncomfortable pretty quickly.
posted by elizardbits at 6:31 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Natto Frenzy
posted by caddis at 6:36 AM on July 13, 2012


I wonder if this is why vegans still have a risk of coronary artery disease similar to their non-vegan counterparts despite their "healthier" lifestyle choice.
As stated, K2 is found in fermented foods as well as meat/dairy. (Tofu is fermented soybeans.)
posted by deathpanels at 6:39 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love Braunschweiger. My wife won't eat it. But I made a push quite some time ago to go full-fat in dairy products (because fat free yogurt is an abomination, obviously) and I buy cheese from grass-fed animals as often as I can.

So, yay for K2! A vitamin, a mountain, and it's also not a bad brand of skis...
posted by caution live frogs at 6:53 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ack, I feel like I should have made that fermented foods reference clearer. K2 is not found in all fermented foods, just some of them, and the ones it's in are bacterially fermented. Natto is the only major vegetarian/vegan source. Based on what I've read, my understanding is that other soy products are not generally a good source of K2.

Most foods have not been tested for K2 content at this point, which is why there isn't specific data for Braunschweiger, fish eggs, etc. even though they are considered likely to be good sources of K2.
posted by pie ninja at 6:54 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Tofu is fermented soybeans.)

No, it isn't.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:56 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Suzanne Somers just recommended Vitamin K2 as a way to ward off heart disease when she was on the Today Show sometime this week. I tend to think of her as quacky, so this is now messing with my head...
posted by bizzyb at 7:02 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]



Oh no, another supervitamin!



Tempeh is fermented soybeans. So is miso.
posted by chiquitita at 7:05 AM on July 13, 2012


What if you can't have vitamin K? Hubby is on blood thinners.....does K2 affect him the same way K would? He can have K but only in very measured doses....the same every day. We have found it too hard to keep his INR (blood thickness) regulated, so he avoids K.
posted by pearlybob at 7:22 AM on July 13, 2012


Malice, the more you stir the slimier natto gets.

I tend to think of her as quacky

Me too though she makes more sense if you think about her in terms of someone who made a living off their looks living in an ageist society. Once I did that I couldn't help but feel sorry for her.
posted by squeak at 7:23 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The French diet wins again. Want to lower your risk of heart disease? Eat Foie Gras.

I need a way to do this that doesn't involve torturing ducks into organ failure, though.

It's funny to see this now, because I've been looking into a paleo approach for our family; my husband has gluten/soy/dairy allergies already, so he basically already eats that way.

Guess I could get this from organic eggs, cause I am not a big fan of fermented anything.
posted by emjaybee at 7:35 AM on July 13, 2012


The French diet wins again. Want to lower your risk of heart disease? Eat Foie Gras.

Foie gras may technically be liver, but it'd be silly to think it has any of the dietary benefits of a healthy liver. It's approximately 100% fat.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:37 AM on July 13, 2012


It's approximately 100% fat.

And is delicious when served on top of a piping hot Belgian waffle.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:49 AM on July 13, 2012


*reads post*

Oh. Huh. Yay for duck torture, I guess.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:49 AM on July 13, 2012


K2 should be in kimchi which is fermented by lactobacillus, that could be a vegan source. Mmm kimchi.
posted by wilky at 7:57 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I need a way to do this that doesn't involve torturing ducks into organ failure, though.

Then you'll be happy to know that foie gras production typically doesn't involve torturing ducks or geese into organ failure. First, their throats are not like our throats; they are lined with tough keratin, and they do not have a gag reflex. The smooth, flexible feeding tubes used in modern foie gras production are not torture.

Second, their livers are not like our livers; they are adapted to safely store large amounts of excess fat. The animals naturally gorge themselves in the fall in preparation for winter and migration. In fact you can buy completely humane foie gras that is produced seasonally by simply letting the animals have as much food as they want to eat and then slaughtering them just when they would normally stop. And, of course, the rest of the animal gets used, too.

In sum: foie gras is no more inhumane than the rest of the meat industry. The best US-based foie gras farms are quite a bit better than most chicken and hog farms, for example.
posted by jedicus at 7:58 AM on July 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


Braunschweiger solidarity! I love it on a sandwich with crisp lettuce and the hot mustard you get in packets at Chinese restaurants.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:43 AM on July 13, 2012


Even most Japanese don't like natto. There is no way I am trying it.
posted by maryr at 9:17 AM on July 13, 2012


I've written about K2 on the blue before, and I've been supplementing with various K2 forms (MK-4, and MK-7 series) for close to 5 years now. The key study that convinced me to give it a go, was the Rotterdam study and also the hints that it might be useful in augmenting and preserving bone strength.

However, there's a consistent pattern with supplements (as opposed to nutrients you get from whole foods) - they transpire to be bad for you. The latest hype that is coming under scrutiny is the vitamin D hype. And when the D hype collapses, I guess we'll need a new miracle vitamin in a pill, so K2 is getting play. And this is when I'm jumping off the bandwagon - I'm stopping K2 supplementation May next year (after my dental implants are completed) - because I suspect K2 supplements may have bad effects on the skin up to and including basal cell carcinoma cancer (this based on private communication of unpublished research by a friend in the field).

Re the FPP, I believe this:

Studies also suggest that Vitamin K2 improves insulin resistance in older men

which links to this study, is incorrect. It appears to reference K1 (phylloquinone), not K2:

"RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—This was an ancillary study of a 36-month, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial designed to assess the impact of supplementation with 500 μg/day phylloquinone on bone loss."[my emph. VS]

Don't buy into the hype. Unless you have frank deficiencies, or have a specific medical condition where a physician prescribes supplements, you are best off getting your micronutrients (including vitamins and minerals) from whole food sources, and not from supplements. Just look at the mass of studies that in time have overturned the purported health benefits of supplementation of various vitamins and minerals, one by one (especially at supra-RDA levels) - as often as not, we find vitamin/mineral supplementation to have deleterious health effects. Supplementing any vitamin at high - or even RDA levels - can have side effects. Best get your nutrients from food.
posted by VikingSword at 10:06 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Say more about beer as a source of K2. IPAs, I'm hoping?
posted by msalt at 10:11 AM on July 13, 2012


Try natto maki if you're a beginner, if for no other reason than sticky-stinky-thread control.
Do *not* start with the handroll, especially if you are bearded.

People with delicate constitutions sitting near you might have difficulties no matter what form of natto you are eating.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:28 AM on July 13, 2012


Say more about beer as a source of K2. IPAs, I'm hoping?

If it's primarily bacterial fermentation that produces K2, I think rather one is going to have to acquire a taste for the lambics. Mmmm, sour beer....
posted by kaspen at 11:48 AM on July 13, 2012


Re: natto, I think it really is heavily brand dependent. I mean I may have a high tolerance for stench-liciousness, but the brand I'm served at my local Japanese breakfast joint I personally find all too mild. Try a few brands, the tame stuff is not unpalatable at all, though I have heard that the riper it is the more the health benefits.
posted by kaspen at 11:50 AM on July 13, 2012


However, there's a consistent pattern with supplements (as opposed to nutrients you get from whole foods) - they transpire to be bad for you.

The medical model says you find the one chemical that is "responsible" for the activity of a food product, distill or synthesize it, then sell it as a pill by claiming the beneficial effect of the original food product. This totally ignores the fact that foods are a matrix and that there is no proof that the individual chemical components function alone the way they do in the original matrix. Eat a well balanced diet where all the essential nutrients are represented in natural proportions.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:19 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I take a menaquinone supplement at breakfast, because it interferes with the production of dental plaque. Doesn't hurt that it helps teeth recalcify too.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:03 PM on July 13, 2012


I will try this natto.. what should I expect in flavor?

Natto is an acquired taste, like many strong cheeses. I like it best when it's mixed with sushi rice and green onion; the final taste is like a strong camembert or a long aged gouda. It's not best to eat it alone on a first try. After a time, if you like it mixed with certain other foods, finding a really high quality natto and eating is solo can be a real treat - kind of like a chocolate fiend finding a very high quality 90-95% cocoa bar, or eating chocolate nibs. It's an acquired taste, and it's good for you!
posted by Vibrissae at 1:37 PM on July 13, 2012


Here's a review article on Vitamin K2:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3321250/

Vitamin K: food composition and dietary intakes
Sarah L. Booth*

Abstract

Vitamin K is present in the diet in the forms of phylloquinone and menaquinones. Phylloquinone, which is the major dietary source, is concentrated in leafy plants and is the vitamin K form best characterized in terms of food composition and dietary intakes. In contrast, menaquinones are the product of bacterial production or conversion from dietary phylloquinone. Food composition databases are limited for menaquinones and their presence in foods varies by region. Dietary intakes of all forms of vitamin K vary widely among age groups and population subgroups. Similarly, the utilization of vitamin K from different forms and food sources appear to vary, although our understanding of vitamin K is still rudimentary in light of new developments regarding the menaquinones.
Keywords: vitamin K, phylloquinone, menaquinones, food composition, dietary intake


I was happy to find this because while I was looking this stuff up, I stumbled into a rats-nest of telephone-gamed and echo-chambered bullshit about nutrition from marketing drones and well-meaning souls who happily regurgitate what they just read in another half-assed non-scholarly source. Such as a lifestyle/marketing blog.

I strongly recommend that anyone looking this stuff up use scholar.google.com or similar.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:48 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I knew about K2 a decade ago. Weston A Price keeps improving with age.
posted by stbalbach at 7:13 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I strongly recommend that anyone looking this stuff up use scholar.google.com or similar.

I have to agree. There are so many ulterior motives floating around nutrition issues, not the least of which are those of the nutritional supplement industry, that little industry that managed to get itself exempted from most FDA regulations through the naked use of lobbying power.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:06 PM on July 13, 2012


Natto is fermented by Bacillis Subtilis:
Although this species is commonly found in soil, more evidence are suggesting that B. subtilis is a normal gut commensal in humans. Recent study compared the number of spores carried by the soil (~106 spores/g) versus the levels found in human feces (~10 4 spores/g). The number of spores found in the human gut is too high to be attributed solely to consumption through food contamination. Soil simply serves as a reservoir, suggesting that B. subtilis inhabits the gut and should be considered as a normal gut commensal[5].
...
B. subtilis is only known to cause disease in severely immunocompromised patients, and can conversely be used as a probiotic in healthy individuals[6]. It rarely causes food poisoning.[7] Some B. subtilis strains produce the proteolytic enzyme subtilisin. B. subtilis spores can survive the extreme heat during cooking. Some B. subtilis strains are responsible for causing ropiness — a sticky, stringy consistency caused by bacterial production of long-chain polysaccharides — in spoiled bread dough.
...
The FDA stated that non-toxigenic and non-pathogenic strains of B. subtilis are widely available and have been safely used in a variety of food applications, including the documented consumption of B. subtilis in the Japanese fermented soy bean, natto. Natto, which is commonly consumed in Japan, contains as many as 108 viable B. subtilis/gram. The natto fermented beans are recognized for their contribution to a healthy gut flora and vitamin K2 intake; during this long history of widespread use natto has not been implicated in any adverse events potentially attributable to the presence of B. subtilis. The unique strain of ''Bacillus subtilis'' R0179 which is genetically comparable to that found in natto, received the non-novel status in Canada based on history of consumption meaning that this specific strain can safely be used as a probiotic to conventional foods.
posted by jamjam at 10:58 AM on July 14, 2012


Here's a table of Vitamin K2 content for various foods, (per 100g):
Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life, by Kate Rheaume-Bleu (Amazon link)

via: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/gouda-the-nutrient-dense-cheese-of-choice/

It turns out hard and soft cheeses are a good source of K2. Meat and eggs are worse, while natto and fois gras are better.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:08 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting that an egg yolk in The Netherlands has twice the K2 of a U.S. egg yolk.
posted by msalt at 10:06 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


And that American cheddar cheese has ~6 times less K2 than real cheese.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:21 PM on July 15, 2012


Oh come now. America can and does make real cheese.

The fact that the authors of one of the studies that the table is based on are "Schurgers and Vermeers" writing in a European journal mayyyyyyyy have something to do with "Dutch" being added before "Gouda" and (U.S.) appended after "cheddar". I suspect whatever cheddar they were able to get their hands on for the study was bright orange and not necessarily representative of America's output.

-A Vermonter
posted by Earthtopus at 8:48 AM on July 16, 2012


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