I went in for a medical checkup yesterday since I hadn't had any tests since 2010.
Along with the standard regimen of tests, the doctor prescribed a bone-density scan. I've only had one, about 15 years ago, and it was almost 100% then. If I am diagnosed with osteoporosis, he will probably suggest the usual treatment: calcium, vitamin D, and drugs like Fosamax (bisphosphonates) and Prolia (denosumab). Bones are constantly being remodeled, with new bone replacing old bone. These drugs work by altering the cycle to slow the breakdown of old bone tissue. Unfortunately, the labels warn of a number of serious side effects, such as osteonecrosis (bone death) of the jaw, spontaneous fractures of the thigh bone, inflammation of the lining of the heart, anemia, and infections. If that isn't scary enough, they have also been linked to irregular heartbeats, esophageal cancer, and severe musculoskeletal pain.
It hasn't gone very well with the other part of the protocol either. The British Medical Journal reported in April of 2011, that women who took calcium supplements were at higher risk of atherosclerosis (the buildup of calcium plaque in the arteries), heart attack, and stroke than those who didn't. For every bone fracture the supplementation prevented, it caused two potentially fatal cardiovascular events.
Luckily, there is a natural way that may insure that your bones and teeth stay strong, one that has a lot of other benefits as well. Vitamin K2, when combined with the fat soluble vitamins A and D, is necessary to make sure calcium gets into the bones where it belongs rather than being deposited in the arteries and other soft tissues. Dr. Weston A. Price discovered vitamin K2 in the 1930s. He didn't know what it was, but he knew it contributed to the vibrant health and the resistance to aging and degenerative diseases among people in indigenous societies around the world. He called it, "Activator X."
Price, a dentist, observed that people eating their ancestral diets had broad, beautiful faces and perfect teeth, but after they started eating modern food, the first generation of their children had crowded, narrow dental arches full of crooked, overlapping teeth. They also had high rates of cavities, infections, and even behavioral problems. As a result of his research, Dr. Price started treating his dental patients with butter oil in lieu of drilling and filling cavities. He also treated bone fractures that were slow to heal with his nutritional therapy. (Take a look at a yearbook from any American middle or high school; the number of kids wearing braces shows how little progress we have made since Dr. Price published his groundbreaking book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, in 1938.)
So where can we find this elusive nutrient? Vitamin K2 is available from the meat, organs, milk, and eggs of grass-fed animals, but these are not readily available in our modern food supply, and not affordable for many people in our current economy. According to Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, author of Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox,certain bacteria also produce K2, and although it is a different kind (MK-7), it is as effective as the animal form (MK-4.)
Natto, a strong, fermented soy food from Japan, has the highest level of K2 of all foods at 1,103 mcgs in 3.5 ounces. I've seen it in health food stores, but have never been tempted to try it because of its reputed horrible taste and texture. In second place, is goose liver pate with 369 mcg in a 3.5 ounce serving. I would probably like the goose liver, but it's not likely to become a regular item on my menu, even if I could find it and were willing to pay the price. Third on the list is Gouda cheese, with 75 mcgs per 3.5 ounces. For comparison, pasture egg yolks and butter have 15 mcgs of K2 in the same size portion. (Thanks to Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist, at Healthy Living, December 28, 2011, for the info.)
Gouda cheese is high in K2 because of the bacterial cultures used in making it, even when it is made from the milk of feedlot cows. It is widely available, inexpensive (for a natural cheese), and delicious.
After thinking about it, I decided to skip the bone-density test because I am already doing everything I would do if the results were bad, so I don't see any reason to expose myself to unnecessary radiation. (This is my decision, after weighing the pros and cons, but I am not suggesting that it is right for anyone else. Please discuss it with you own doctor and make your own decision.) I'll continue to eat my daily dose of creamy, Dutch cheese instead. Pass the Gouda!
"When animals grazed on pasture, vitamin K2 was abundant in our food supply. The most common dietary staples, like butter, eggs, cheese, and meat, even when eaten in small quantities, easily met our...needs. Now we consume large quantities of the mass produced versions of these foods, but we are starving for the nutrients they no longer contain."~Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox, 2012
Important! The information on this blog is not intended to be, and must never be used as, a replacement for the advice from your physician or nutritionist. None of the information here is intended to treat any disease, medical condition, or health concern. If you believe that you have a medical problem, please consult your physician.