THE MEDICINE KIT: K2

How Menaquinone creates strong bones and teeth with less diabetes, dementia, depression, stroke and cancer.

by D U A N E L A W, L. A c. | ( 3 1 0 ) 4 9 8 – 2 7 7 7 

by DUANE LAW, L.Ac. | (310) 498-2777 

It’s late fall and everyone who’s been thinking ahead has already topped off their vitamin D reserves for the season, if only to keep this year’s flu at bay.

Vitamin D also helps the body absorb calcium. Of course lots of us take supplemental calcium and vitamin D to support strong bone health.

But that’s just a good first step. There’s an important second step … and a crucial third.

If calcium is the “concrete” in our bones, magnesium is the “rebar.” Good magnesium intake is crucial if we want to have strong teeth and bones: it serves as an atomic latticework around which calcium atoms gather and cement themselves.1,2 That’s the crucial second step for anyone taking calcium to strengthen their bones. (Please avoid magnesium oxide-containing products, especially if you’re older. They’re not absorbed well and much of the magnesium is wasted. Try chelates.)

There’s a third extremely crucial step for anyone taking supplemental calcium. If calcium is “concrete” and magnesium “rebar” … K2 (menaquinone) is the mason. It makes sure that the calcium we consume, absorbed with vitamin D’s help, goes where we need it.

Even more crucially … adequate K2 intake ensures calcium doesn’t go where we don’t need it. Where it can become dangerous. K2 makes sure calcium goes into our teeth3 rather becoming embedded in our arteries.4,5 K2 makes sure calcium goes to build strong bones6,7 rather than sparking diabetes8,9 or inappropriate cell division.10,11,12

It’s a poorly-kept secret that when radiologists read mammograms, looking for breast tumors, one of the things they look for is calcium deposits. Where you’ve got excess calcium … you’ve often got tumors.13

If calcium is the concrete in our teeth and bones …

magnesium is the rebar around which the cement sets.

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If calcium is the concrete in our teeth and bones …

magnesium is the rebar around which the cement sets.

How K2 Works

(nb: K2 is in the same family, but has an entirely different effect on the body than K1, which is well known for increasing clotting activity. Anyone one blood thinners needs to be cautious w/K1 … K2 has no effect on clotting at all and can be taken safely by those requiring monitoring)

Every cell in our bodies pumps sodium ions out and pulls potassium ions in.

Since potassium and sodium carry an identical electrical charge … and since three atoms of sodium are pumped out for every two of potassium sucked in … this creates electrical currents that are used to power cell functions.

Cells also move calcium ions out of their cell bodies by pulling three sodium ions back in. This matters because if too much calcium builds up inside our cells bad things start to happen. This can include:

  • accumulating in, say muscle cells, creating muscular contraction
  • including the muscles around our arteries, raising blood pressure.
  • setting the stage for insulin resistance
  • raising the odds that cells can start dividing and growing out of control.

Now think about this for a second: you’re carrying a bundle of fresh socks from the dryer to your drawer. Is it easier to put socks into an empty drawer? Or one that’s already stuffed full of socks?

No contest, right? Well … it’s the same story with ions. If there’s already too many calcium ions swimming around outside the cells, it’s more work for the sodium-potassium pump to keeping pushing all that tight, over-stimulating, insulin-resistance-creating calcium out.

That’s where K2 comes in handy. Take adequate K2 and calcium doesn’t tend to stay in the body fluids so much … it goes into the teeth and bones where it belongs.

And the extra energy our cells have left over (after not having to work so hard to keep calcium in its place) can be used for other things.

Excess calcium in circulation also figures into chronic fatigue and pain syndromes. This gets a tad biogeeky because it involves something called nitric oxide (yes, Viagra fans, THAT nitric oxide.) Here … we’re concerned with the way excess nitric oxide becomes an extremely corrosive molecule (a pro-oxidant free radical) called peroxynitrite under the right (or wrong) conditions.

Peroxynitrite attacks the delicate wet wiggly machinery inside our cells’ powerplants: the mitochondria. Think of a car engine running way out of tune, missing and throwing off clouds of black smoke.

Too much calcium swimming around in our tissues stimulates the enzymes that make nitric oxide … more nitric oxide, more peroxynitrite, more mitochondrial decay, less energy to run our cells, bodies and minds … more inflammation …

K2 helps keep all that under control.

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Vitamin K2: Healthy Calcium Metabolism.

Energy • Circulation • Bones • Brain

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Vitamin K2: Healthy Calcium Metabolism.

Energy • Circulation • Bones • Brain

K2: Mood Stabilizer, Cognition Enhancer

From a mental health perspective, that matters because when chronic low-grade inflammation inflames the brain, we can see a wide range of behaviors ranging from anxiety spectrum disorders14 and depression15 to bipolar, schizophrenia and more … all reminiscent of the kinds of mental states humans can experience when their immunity is fighting off an infection or an allergen. This is a state known as sickness behavior.16,17

“Sickness behavior” refers to the kinds of things we do, and the state of mind we’re in, when we’re coming down with a flu. We get grumpy. We self-isolate and rest.

These behaviors are highly adaptive when the immune challenge is short lived (especially when viewed from the point of view of the rest of us.)

But when these behaviors are stimulated as a result of the chronic low-grade immune stimulation set in motion by disconnects between our genetics and the modern environment,18 a vicious cycle can set in. The anxiety itself can create more of the inflammation19 that, from a neuro-endocrine perspective, underlies and contributes to a broad spectrum of mental health challenges.20

It’s this positive feedback loop, locking in a state of neuroendocrine alarm, that vitamin K2, along with sufficient support from other kinds of mental health and nutrient interventions, can help address.

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Glyphosate (Roundup®) blocks the shikimate pathway, essential to our microbiome’s natural production of K2.

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Glyphosate (Roundup®) blocks the shikimate pathway, essential to our microbiome’s natural production of K2.

Natural Sources

This is where the plot thickens.

The best natural sources of K2 are healthy bacteria in the microbiome, the population of crucial, friendly bacteria living throughout our bodies, but most notably in our guts. Hard cheese (a fermented food) comes in a close second.21

Natural K2 (menaquinone) is created by a metabolic chain of reactions called the shikimate pathway.22 This is the very metabolic pathway that the makers of Roundup® have cited as the reason for the herbicide’s supposed safety: mammals have no shikimate pathways.

But the bacteria in our guts do.

And that’s how some make the claim that Roundup® has no effect on human health: by ignoring its effect on a friendly bacteria living our guts that produces a nutrient essential for our mental and physical health.

Typical corporate distract and deflect tactic. Focus attention on something plausible, distract from the big picture. In this case … our most prolific source of K2.

This, as we’ve seen, sets the stage for cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and dental problems. Often … the first sign is neurological and/or behavioral:23,24 increased anxiety,25 and/or depression.26,27 It appears these states of being can be transmitted intergenerationally to one’s offspring in mammals when embryos are exposed in the womb.28,29

Thus … again … its presence in my personal regime. Adequate K2 is getting way upstream of a lot of serious chronic diseases … and setting things in order.

This is even more true for anyone exposed to non-organic food on a regular basis.

Roundup®, recall, is used on GMO corn and to dry out all sorts of other crops before harvest and processing. Corn is often used to make corn syrup. Corn syrup is the cheapest form of sugar.

So anything highly industrialized that’s sweet … is very possibly setting all this in motion.

Taking K2 on a daily basis is one of the best available workarounds for this issue.

So K2 has the potential to help us have:

  • stronger bones
  • stronger teeth
  • looser muscles
  • lower blood pressure
  • less cancer
  • more protection from Roundup®
  • more energy.

That’s why I keep K2 in my own personal nutrient regime. My dosage is 100 mcg/day.

 1. LeGeros RZ, Sakae T. “Magnesium and carbonate in enamel and synthetic apatites.Adv Dent Res. 1996 Nov;10(2):225-31.

 2. Bigi A, Foresti E. “The role of magnesium on the structure of biological apatites.Calcif Tissue Int. 1992 May;50(5):439-44.

 3. Myneni VD, Mezey E. “Regulation of bone remodeling by vitamin K2.Oral Dis. 2017 Nov;23(8):1021-1028.

 4. Vossen LM, Schurgers LJ. “Menaquinone-7 Supplementation to Reduce Vascular Calcification in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease: Rationale and Study Protocol (VitaK-CAC Trial).Nutrients. 2015 Oct 28;7(11):8905-15.

 5. Westenfeld R, Krueger T. “Effect of vitamin K2 supplementation on functional vitamin K deficiency in hemodialysis patients: a randomized trial.Am J Kidney Dis. 2012 Feb;59(2):186-95.

 6. Mandatori D, Penolazzi L. “Menaquinone-4 enhances osteogenic potential of human amniotic fluid mesenchymal stem cells cultured in 2D and 3D dynamic culture systems.J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2018 Feb;12(2):447-459.

 7. Rønn SH, Harsløf T. “Vitamin K2 (menaquinone-7) prevents age-related deterioration of trabecular bone microarchitecture at the tibia in postmenopausal women.Eur J Endocrinol. 2016 Dec;175(6):541-549

 8. Li Y, Chen JP, Duan L, Li S. “Effect of vitamin K2 on type 2 diabetes mellitus: A review.Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2018 Feb;136:39-51.

 9. Choi HJ, Yu J. “Vitamin K2 supplementation improves insulin sensitivity via osteocalcin metabolism: a placebo-controlled trial.Diabetes Care. 2011 Sep;34(9):e147.

10. Tsuchida A, Itoi T, et al. “Chemoprevention of chemically-induced biliary carcinogenesis in hamsters by vitamin K2.Hepatogastroenterology. 2011 Mar-Apr;58(106):290-7.

11. Arakaki AK, Mezencev R, et al. “Identification of metabolites with anticancer properties by computational metabolomics.Mol Cancer. 2008 Jun 17;7:57.

12. Zhang Y, Ma C, et al. “Lactobacillus casei Zhang and vitamin K2 prevent intestinal tumorigenesis in mice via adiponectin-elevated different signaling pathways.Oncotarget. 2017 Apr 11;8(15):24719-24727.

13. Grandl S, Scherer K, Sztrókay-Gaul A, et al. “Improved visualization of breast cancer features in multifocal carcinoma using phase-contrast and dark-field mammography: an ex vivo study.Eur Radiol. 2015 Dec;25(12):3659-68.

14. Rao NP, Venkatasubramanian G, et al. “Plasma cytokine abnormalities in drug-naïve, comorbidity-free obsessive-compulsive disorder.Psychiatry Res. 2015 Oct 30;229(3):949-52.

15. Pallavi P, Sagar R, Mehta M, et al. “Serum cytokines and anxiety in adolescent depression patients: Gender effect.Psychiatry Res. 2015 Sep 30;229(1-2):374-80.

16. Muscatell KA, Moieni M, et al. “Exposure to an inflammatory challenge enhances neural sensitivity to negative and positive social feedback.Brain Behav Immun. 2016 Oct;57:21-29.

17. Eisenberger NI, Inagaki TK, Mashal NM, Irwin MR. “Inflammation and social experience: an inflammatory challenge induces feelings of social disconnection in addition to depressed mood.Brain Behav Immun. 2010 May;24(4):558-63.

18. Ait-Bali Y, Ba-M’hamed S, Bennis M. “Prenatal Paraquat exposure induces neurobehavioral and cognitive changes in mice offspring.Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2016 Dec;48:53-62.

19. Moons WG, Shields GS. “Anxiety, not anger, induces inflammatory activity: An avoidance/approach model of immune system activation.Emotion. 2015 Aug;15(4):463-76.

20. Mangiola F, Ianiro G, Franceschi F, Fagiuoli S, Gasbarrini G, Gasbarrini A. “Gut microbiota in autism and mood disorders.World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Jan 7;22(1):361-8.

21. Vermeer C, Raes J, et al. “Menaquinone Content of Cheese.Nutrients. 2018 Apr 4;10(4).

22. Bentley R, Meganathan R. “Biosynthesis of vitamin K (menaquinone) in bacteria.Microbiol Rev. 1982 Sep;46(3):241-80.

23. Savy CY, Fitchett AE, et al. “Gene expression analysis reveals chronic low level exposure to the pesticide diazinon affects psychological disorders gene sets in the adult rat.Toxicology. 2018 Jan 15;393:90-101.

24. Jamal F, Haque QS, Singh S. “Interrelation of Glycemic Status and Neuropsychiatric Disturbances in Farmers with Organophosphorus Pesticide Toxicity.Open Biochem J. 2016 Apr 27;10:27-34.

25. Ait Bali Y, Ba-Mhamed S, Bennis M. “Behavioral and Immunohistochemical Study of the Effects of Subchronic and Chronic Exposure to Glyphosate in Mice.Front Behav Neurosci. 2017 Aug 8;11:146.

26. Harrison V, Mackenzie Ross S. “Anxiety and depression following cumulative low-level exposure to organophosphate pesticides.Environ Res. 2016 Nov;151:528-536.

27. Mackenzie Ross SJ, Brewin CR, et al. “Neuropsychological and psychiatric functioning in sheep farmers exposed to low levels of organophosphate pesticides.Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2010 Jul-Aug;32(4):452-9.

28. Silva JG, Boareto AC, Schreiber AK, et al. “Chlorpyrifos induces anxiety-like behavior in offspring rats exposed during pregnancy.Neurosci Lett. 2017 Feb 22;641:94-100.

29. Gallegos CE, Baier CJ, Bartos M, et al. “Perinatal Glyphosate-Based Herbicide Exposure in Rats Alters Brain Antioxidant Status, Glutamate and Acetylcholine Metabolism and Affects Recognition Memory.Neurotox Res. 2018 Oct;34(3):363-374.

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