The Other Vitamin K – Guest Writer

Wait, what?! Another Vitamin K? What is that?

We all know about Vitamin K – the coagulant vitamin. If you have too little, you can bleed to death from a minor injury. If you have too much, doctors put you on blood thinners and we cross our fingers, hoping that clots don’t form in your bloodstream and lead to potential stroke or cardiac arrest.

Well, that is K1, found in green leafy foods and alfalfa sprouts. Simple enough. So, what is this other vitamin K? Does it also come from green leafies?


Vitamin K2 is found mostly in animal products. It is fat soluble, as are Vitamins D and A. It does not coagulate blood but has arguably an equally important function in the body.

Vitamin K History

Both of the Vitamin K(s) were discovered at the same time, but the coagulation factor was in the spotlight. With everyone agog at that marvel, few looked further.

It was named Vitamin K because it was discovered by a scientist from Denmark and in Danish, coagulation is spelled with the letter “K.”  Also, this vitamin did not appear to be deficient to any large degree, so why go further with it?

In 1997, findings showed that vitamin “K” had functions other than coagulation. It was related to calcium distribution in the body. Quite a different function for sure.

So why didn’t we hear about it in 1997? Again, no one really grasped the implication of what K2 deficiency looked like.

Finally in 2007 (around 70 yrs. after the initial discovery) came the revelation that K2 deficiencies may be rampant and having a major impact on human health. We now know that osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, cancer and other serious health conditions are implicated.

The Calcium Connection

Have you ever heard of someone who has taken calcium supplements for years and even Vitamin D, but still ends up with osteoporosis? They may chalk it up to genetics. Sometimes it is argued not enough calcium was taken, or the wrong kind, or “you should have taken more Vitamin D.”

All too often, what was missing was Vitamin K2.

Calcium goes through a cycle in the body.

  1. You ingest it. Milk, cheese, almonds, sardines, yum!
  2. Vitamin D transfers calcium out of your gut and into the system. Good so far. However, D doesn’t care or get involved as to where calcium lands. It may or may not settle into your bones. It may end up lining your arteries with plaque or calcifying some soft tissue areas, perhaps in your eyes (cataracts) or your kidneys (stones). None of which you want.
  3. Vitamin K2 directs the calcium into correct areas, especially to the bones and teeth. But there may be some left over. That may go to unwanted places as described above.
  4. Vitamin A escorts unused calcium out of the system. Whew!

The 3 Fat-Soluble Characters

So, we now have three fat soluble vitamins – D, K2 and A – which work synergistically to utilize and balance calcium in the body.

There are a number of missing or arbitrary data on these three.

D, of course, is a hormone rather than a vitamin and almost everyone is deficient in it. That deserved a post of its own. [See: Vitamin D – Quick Update for Winter and Vitamin-D Craze — Fallacy or Function?]

K2 has been getting more and more difficult to come by. One source is from animals who eat grass, creating the raw materials developed into the vitamin. Cows are almost exclusively fed grain and corn nowadays. Cows cannot make K2 from grain; they have to be fed on green grass for the miraculous transformation. Grass-fed butter is a good source, as are egg yolks and dark chicken meat. You can try eel too, if you like. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you may find Natto Natto (a Japanese soybean food) one of your few choices.

Vitamin A does not come from carrots. Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which is not vitamin A. It is thought, but not proven, that beta-carotene is an effective precursor to A for most people. This has been misunderstood; furthermore, many multi-vitamins say they have vitamin A when they really only have beta-carotene.

Vitamin A is retinol. Foods rich in real vitamin A (retinol) include fatty fish like salmon and tuna, and milk products, particularly butter. (Chocolate too, although let’s not go overboard.) Eel is a good vitamin A source as well. (If you’ve ever gone to the local Sushi bar, there’s a good chance you’ve already had eel without realizing it.) Retinol has had a bad rep over the years for toxicity. It’s now beginning to look like the “toxicity” may be due to deficiencies in D and/or K2.

Balance of K2, D and A

There is no known toxicity for vitamin K2 despite it being a fat-soluble vitamin. The toxicity of vitamin D is a buildup of calcium in the blood, which sounds more like a deficiency of vitamin A, eh?

These three need to be balanced. When you take more of one fat-soluble vitamin you increase the need for the others.

For a more in-depth discussion of this I highly recommend the book Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life ( by Kate Rheaume-Bleue, B.Sc., N.D.

About the Author:

Debra Musack trained in the Reams Biological Theory of Ionization in Pennsylvania in 1982 and first started business in Sacramento, CA. After Moving from Sacramento, she served her own clients at her Los Angeles office on Sunset Boulevard. Additionally, she consulted for a number of chiropractors and other providers. She has now been a nutrition consultant for nearly 40 years.
By the mid-90s, Debra split her time between LA and family in Grants Pass, Oregon. In 2010, she moved to Grants Pass “for good.” Now retired in Southern Oregon, she still helps friends when the need arises. When she does recommend supplements, she refers her friends to her writings and recommendations at

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I hit the Second 50 mark a while back, but have my sights on a different goal –much longer, quality living.

While I may have a ‘dr’ in front of my name, the credentials for this blog are the same as yours – I am on a journey to Age with Pizzazz, whether that is body, mind, spirit or just fun and learning.  It is important to me to share related information with others as well.

I currently live in Southern Oregon with my husband, Michael.  I have had the good fortune (well, usually good fortune) to have called several states my home: Vermont, New York (family home with various locations along the way), Massachusetts (a short stint), Georgia, West Virginia, Connecticut, Arizona and most recently (2014) Oregon.

I grew up in upstate New York to a financially-modest family and did most of my schooling there.  My undergraduate work was in education (music and special education).  I did post graduate work in music therapy (and became an RMT – Registered Music Therapist).  My master’s degree from The New School in New York was in Hospital and Health Care Administration – and also convinced me that along with wonderful advancements, much is wrong with our traditional American medical and health care system (at least at that point).  There was a year more of pre-med courses in the southeast and then a doctorate degree in chiropractic (an industry that also has its many up and down sides).

I often joke that I have had as many professions or jobs as I do fingers.  To live up to that claim, I will name some: waitress, low-level banker, music and special Ed teacher, music therapist, mental health professional, gig performer, real estate agent (for which I had a shot at being the worst ever), probation officer, chiropractor, author and consultant.

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