Vitamin K2 is a little known but extremely important fat-soluble vitamin. We classically think of Vitamin K for it's role in blood clotting, however, this task is accomplished by vitamin K1, which is found in leafy green plants.
Vitamin K2, on the other hand, is primarily found in dairy and liver from animals raised on grassy, sunny pastures as well as fermented foods. Vitamin K2 plays a key role in being distributed properly to bones and teeth and preventing calcium from being deposited into soft tissue such as blood vessels and kidneys. Vitamin K2 also aids in the synthesis of important fats involved in brain metabolism.
Which foods contain vitamin K2?
According to this article which cites a study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, the top 10 sources of Vitamin K2 are:
- Natto – 1103.4 mcg K2/100G [see note below*]
- Goose Liver Paste – 369.0 mcg K2/100G [100g = 3.53 ounces]
- Hard Cheeses – 76.3 mcg K2/100G
- Soft Cheeses – 56.5 mcg K2/100G
- Egg Yolk (Netherlands) – 32.1mcg K2/100G [approximately 6 yolks]
- Goose Leg – 31.0 mcg K2/100G
- Curd Cheeses -24.8 mcg K2/100G
- Egg Yolk (United States) -15.5 mcg K2/100G [approximately 6 yolks]
- Butter – 15.0 mcg K2/100G
- Chicken Liver – 14.1 mcg K2/100G
*A note about natto: I have read varying opinions about whether or not the type of K2 provided by natto (known as MK-7) and other fermented foods demonstrates the same properties as the K2 found in grass-fed dairy and meat (MK-4). Including natto in your diet is certainly not a bad idea as fermented foods are chock full of health benefits, however, if you rely on it as your sole source of K2, you may want to consider adding some animal-based sources and/or supplementing with high vitamin butter oil.
Some other sources site that fish eggs are also quite high in K2. Certain cheeses such as gouda do not need to be made from grass fed milk, since the culturing process produces vitamin K2 in the finished cheese. But for nearly every other K2 rich food, the pasture-raised component is essential. (Click here to learn where you can buy cheese cultures to make your own vitamin K2-rich gouda).
Notice that butter is lower on this list, and 100g of butter is about 7 tablespoons, providing only 15 mcg of K2. An official recommended daily allowance for vitamin K2 has not been established at this time, but some experts (including Mercola and Kresser) recommend aiming for 100 mcg/day. To get 100mcg of K2 from butter alone, according to this list you would need nearly 6 sticks of butter per day. Now, I eat A LOT of butter, but six sticks daily is even too much for me. What we don't know here is whether or not this butter was from grass-fed cows, which would make all the difference since butter from conventional butter doesn't contain much vitamin K2 at all.
You can also see that the egg yolk for the Netherlands contained DOUBLE the vitamin K2 compared to the egg from the United States. Hmm. I wonder if that U.S. egg was from a conventional source and the Dutch egg from a pastured source?
In summary, we can see that the liver and dark meat from fowl, hard and soft cheese and egg yolk come out on top when it comes to vitamin K2 content. Don't you think it would be interesting to see a similar study done of grass fed vs. conventional sources – specifically regarding butter?. Who's got a lab and some free time?
What is high vitamin butter oil?
High vitamin butter oil (HVBO) is a concentrated supplement made by centrifuging the oil of grass fed butter to concentrate the vitamin density. In his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Weston Price discussed the use of HVBO from fall and spring cows on pasture to maximize the health benefits of fermented cod liver oil (FCLO). Essentially, the fat-soluble vitamins A and D from the FCLO seem to work synergistically with vitamin K2 (which Price referred to as ‘Activator X') from HVBO.
Because HVBO is technically classified as a food not a supplement, the precise content of vitamin K2 is not included on the label. It has been suggested on various sources online, however, that the HVBO is estimated at eight times more potent than regular butter, putting HBVO near the top of our list above. HVBO is also casein and lactose-free – safe for most individuals with sensitivity to dairy.
How much high vitamin butter oil do you need?
If you are supplementing with HVBO, here's some tips on dosage:
According to Ramiel Nigel, author of Cure Tooth Decay, for severe cavities or severe tooth pain or infection, you want 3/4 teaspoon of fermented cod liver oil and 3/4 teaspoon of butter oil daily. This is equivalent to 10 capsules of the FCLO / HVBO blend or 7 capsules of each individually. For maintenance dosages, about half the amounts listed for adults. You can read more about dosage of FCLO in this post.
It's likely that the similar dosage recommendations would be ideal for treatment or prevention of other disease or imbalances as well. While pregnancy is certainly not a disease, it is quite demanding on the body, so women who are trying to conceive, pregnant, or nursing should aim for the higher dosage range. At the time of this writing, there is no known toxicity if vitamin K2 is taken in large dosages.
Ultimately, each individual is different and may require different amount of vitamin K2. Listen to your body, and when in doubt, be sure to consult with a qualified health practitioner.
Is high vitamin butter oil worth the cost?
At $60 for a 240 ml bottle or $45 for 120 capsules, HVBO may seem out of your budget. But HVBO packs a punch when it comes to vitamin K2. At a maintenance dose of 4 capsules per day, a single bottle of capsules (my preferred delivery method) will last two months. Compared to the cost of the equivalent vitamin K2 foods, HVBO may start to look like a bargain.
10 reasons you may want to supplement with high vitamin butter oil:
- You do not have access to butter, liver, eggs and meat from grass fed animals.
- You choose not to eat the grass fed animal foods above liberally or at all.
- You are trying to conceive.
- You are pregnant or nursing.
- You are a growing child.
- You are a hormonal adolescent or woman experiencing premenstrual syndrome.
- You are nearing or going through menopause.
- You are experiencing dental decay, tooth sensitivity, or gum disease or are seeking to prevent dental issues.
- You suffer from or are predisposed to heart disease, osteoporosis (or other bone conditions), rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, alzheimer's disease, or certain types of cancer.
- The cost of HVBO is not prohibitive to you.
This is just a partial list of who may benefit from HVBO. You can read more about the content and benefits of HVBO here.
The good news for individuals with decent health and/or a tight budget, is that eating ample foods on a regular basis that are high in vitamin K2 will usually suffice.
Rather than depending on charts and guesses for vitamin content in food, my personal preference is to supplement with some HVBO, eat vitamin K2 foods in abundance, and then pay attention to my body's request for more (or less).
For example, I take more FCLO and HVBO if my teeth are feeling sensitive or my hormones seem out of balance. If I'm feeling under the weather, I'll take an extra fistful of FCLO caps.
How do you decide how much FCLO and HVBO to take?
Get high vitamin butter oil here.
Fallon, Sally, and Mary Enig. “Cod Liver Oil Basics and Recommendations.” http://www.westonaprice.org/cod-liver-oil/cod-liver-oil-basics
Kresser, Chris. “9 Steps to Perfect Health” http://chriskresser.com/9-steps-to-perfect-health-4-supplement-wisely
Masterjohn, Chris. “On the Trail of the Elusive X-Factor: A Sixty-Two-Year-Old Mystery Finally Solved.” http://www.westonaprice.org/fat-soluble-activators/x-factor-is-vitamin-k2
Masterjohn, Chris. “Vegetarianism and Nutrient Deficiencies.” http://www.westonaprice.org/vegetarianism-and-plant-foods/vegetarianism-and-nutrient-deficiencies
McGrunther, Jenny and Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue. “Vitamin K2: A Reader Question & Answer.” http://nourishedkitchen.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/K2.pdf
Mercola MD, Joe. “10 Important Facts About Vitamin K That You Need to Know.” http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2004/03/24/vitamin-k-part-two.aspx
Nagel, Ramiel. http://www.curetoothdecay.com/support-with-tooth-decay/support-green-pastures-capsule.htm
Sisson, Mark. “Dear Mark: Vitamin K2.” http://www.marksdailyapple.com/vitamin-k2/#ixzz1mhuvhxnu