Ashwagandha Helps Hormones — Aids Arthritis

By Dr. Mercola

Known as a multipurpose herb and “rejuvenator,” aka Rasayana, and used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, ashwagandha is a plant native to India with a host of bioactive functions. It’s also one supplement that I take twice daily myself. A number of studies have shown this exotic herb can treat several diseases and disorders better than medications, and without all the side effects.

Ashwagandha has been identified as having potential stress-reducing (adaptogenic)1 and anti-inflammatory functions and may serve to improve the immune response (immunomodulatory) while soothing your nervous system’s pain response. In addition, the roots are used therapeutically as a pain reliever (analgesic).2

Studies add that the herb has antitumor, antioxidant and blood production capabilities (hemopoietic), and benefits the cardiopulmonary, endocrine and central nervous systems, all “with little or no associated toxicity.”3

Having names like winter cherry, Indian ginseng and poison gooseberry, ashwagandha is a member of the Solanaceae family along with eggplants and tomatoes, and can grow to 3 feet in height in arid regions of India and North America. It bears light green flowers that evolve to bright red fruit and is able to survive extreme temperatures and widely varying altitudes.4 The plants only need extra watering in extreme drought conditions. According to Wisepooch:

“The plants will start flowering from mid December onwards and it is determined if they are ready to harvest by observing the development of the red berry-like fruits. The whole plant along with the roots is removed from the soil. The roots and berries are the main parts used.”5

In Sanskrit, the word ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) means “odor of a horse.” The likeness refers not only to the odor of the plant’s root but the essence of strength it’s said to deliver. You may see both red berry-like fruits as well as papery “orange lanterns” as a description of the herb, but the latter is actually a close relative known as Physalis alkekengi.6

Multiple-Use Painkiller With Wide Range of Benefits

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study using ashwagandha was pitted against some of the most popular, typically used drugs targeted for hypothyroid patients. In fact, multiple studies show ashwagandha works better to normalize hormone levels, and without the harmful side effects,7 which may even include Alzheimer’s disease.8 The study involved 50 participants with elevated serum thyroid hormone (TSH), all between the ages of 18 and 50.

Divided into two groups, each was given either ashwagandha treatments or starch as a placebo for eight weeks. Following the study, the researchers noted that the ashwagandha effectively and significantly normalized the serum thyroid levels, and concluded that such treatment might be beneficial for hypothyroid patients.9 Thyroid Advisor lists a number of additional health benefits.10 This powerful root may also:

Reduce blood pressure11

Lower irritability, edginess and anxiety

Provide natural pain relief

Boost memory, concentration and fight Alzheimer’s12

Inhibit inflammation

Combat insomnia and promote relaxation

Stimulate proper thyroid function13

Protect nerve function and oxidation14

Nourish and protect your liver

Increase energy and endurance

Improve adrenal function15

Increase red blood cell production

Ashwagandha the ‘Best Remedy’ for Arthritis and Inflammation

Arthritis can weaken your digestive function and affect your joints and soft tissues, causing inflammation, possible hearing loss and other problems. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),16 more than 54 million American have arthritis in some form. Typical therapies include analgesics and other remedies such as ibuprofen, paracetamol (acetaminophen) and diclofenac.

Unfortunately, as The Ayurveda Experience notes, these drugs reduce symptoms only temporarily and often have side effects that can involve liver and kidney damage, gastrointestinal bleeding and increased risk for heart attack and stroke, cautioning: “In fact, if taken for a long period of time they can have severe side effects including stomach pain, ulceration, heartburn, allergic reactions, liver problem, kidney problems and high blood pressure.”17

Another study observed the results from using ashwagandha as a natural alternative: “Patients of rheumatoid arthritis receiving Ashwagandha root powder showed excellent response. Their pain and swelling completely disappeared. A double-blind placebo controlled study, combining Ashwagandha, turmeric and zinc showed significant improvement in pain and inflammation.”18

Ashwagandha has been noted in Ayurvedic manuscripts as well as modern medicine as being an effective remedy for both rheumatoid arthritis (Amavata) and osteoarthritis (Sandhi-gata Vata).19 In addition, ashwagandha was found in animal studies to be more effective against inflammation than phenylbutazone20 or hydrocortisone.21

The Main Bioactive Components in Ashwagandha

Flavonoids and other compounds are the active ingredients that give ashwagandha its surprisingly effective properties. In one study, bioactive withanolides in ashwagandha were identified as agents that suppressed the pathways causing several inflammation-based illness, including tumors, arthritis, asthma and hypertension, as well as cancer.22 In fact, one study reads:

“Ashwagandha leaf extract and Withanone cause selective killing of cancer cells by induction of ROS-signaling and hence are potential reagents that could be recruited for ROS-mediated cancer chemotherapy.”23

For example, another study noted that researchers who treated rats suffering from reduced bone density (osteoporosis) with ashwagandha extracts noted decreased bone loss due to “estrogen-like withanolides (with) anti-osteoporotic activity.”24 One study shows that withaferin A and withanolides in ashwagandha also have immunomodulating properties,25 described as a substance that can either stimulate or suppress your immune system to help fight infections, cancer and other diseases.

One of the alkaloids in ashwagandha, called somniferin, helps promote relaxation and sound sleep. In fact, the botanical name “somnifera” means the herb induces sleep. A study at the University of Tsukuba in Japan also found that it relieves related problems such as insomnia and restless leg syndrome.26

Recipe for Sore Joints and Arthritis Pain Using Ashwagandha

Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf, author of “The Ageless Woman: Natural Health and Beauty After Forty,”27 recommends a recipe combining four herbs for effective pain relief: ashwagandha along with three other ingredients. Mahanarayan Oil targets your muscles for up to 90 percent pain-relieving effectiveness due to its inflammation-blocking enzymes. It’s used to soothe sore muscles and tendons, ease arthritis pain and prevent damage from overuse. Prevent Disease lists the other three herbal and spice ingredients as:28

  • Boswellia or Boswellia serrata (Indian frankincense), found in the Middle East, contains a resin that can be harvested from the trunk that contains triterpenoids as well as palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic fatty acids.29 “It works by blocking an enzyme involved in the formation of leukotrienes, chemicals that trigger inflammation.”30
  • Turmeric, the active ingredient in the spice being curcumin, is well-known for its ability to reduce inflammation. In fact, it’s reputed to contain more than two dozen compounds for this purpose, as well as six unique COX-2-inhibitors (Cox-2 is an enzyme known to promote pain and inflammation). Further, this herb outperforms similar abilities claimed by pharmaceuticals.
  • Ginger is another hard-working painkiller with several compounds that studies show dramatically reduce pain and inflammation: zingerone, gingerols, paradols and shogaols, again, by interfering with inflammatory enzymes and by lowering pain-causing prostaglandin levels in your body.

As it happens, ashwagandha is considered one of Ayurvedic medicine’s most powerful herbs. Lonsdorf’s recommendation is to combine the above spices and herbs as a supplement, and explains the connection between stress and inflammation: “When we are stressed, the hormones cortisol and epinephrine cause a breakdown of various body tissues. Ashwagandha helps alleviate the damaging effects of stress by restoring the proper hormonal balance to the nervous system, which in turn strengthens the immune system and further reduces inflammation.”31

However, Prevent Disease stresses that even with Ayurvedic supplements, organic is the way to go as often as possible, even for herbal remedies with the Ayurvedic label, as some commercial supplements have been known to contain more traces of lead, mercury and/or arsenic than regulatory standards allow.

Ashwagandha: Anecdotal Evidence for Pain

The People’s Pharmacy shares the story of a patient who’d undergone bariatric surgery, but was still overweight and experiencing debilitating knee pain from severe osteoarthritis. Tylenol was “ineffective,” and the patient’s ability to move was becoming increasingly limited. Running across a study showing the effectiveness of ashwagandha, the patient took a 500 milligrams (mg) Withania somnifera extract containing 2.5 percent withanolides. His testimonial reads:

“On the second day of taking ashwagandha once a day, I awakened to find the pain had decreased dramatically. I’ve been taking it now for a week, and the pain is almost completely gone. There is still some stiffness. I’ve never had anything make such a difference so fast.”32

While there are no side effects from ashwagandha such as those caused by drugs taken for thyroid problems or arthritis, those taking medications for diabetes, insomnia, hypertension, anxiety or depression may find their effectiveness diminished or exacerbated if taken with the herb. Pregnant women are advised against taking ashwagandha.33 Taking large amounts or doses is also not recommended.

Soy — Health Food or Not?

By Dr. Mercola

It’s a controversial topic in the culinary world today — the perception some have that soy is a health food. Soybeans in the pod, you may know, look a little like short, puffy, green peas with peach fuzz on the outside. Representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced a boomerang-like decision on how soy protein should be viewed from now on.

In fact, the agency is proposing to revoke its long-held stance that soy protein can lower your heart disease risk. The current claim, which you may have seen on various food packages, reads: “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”1

Many health advocates claim soy must be good for you because Asian people — arguably one of the healthiest populations on the planet — have eaten it a lot, and have some of the lowest rates of heart disease, cancer and dementia worldwide,2 so, it appears, the rest of the world should eat soy protein products, too. However, the type of soy traditionally consumed by Asian people differs from that being heavily marketed in the U.S.

Soy rose seemingly from nowhere into the American consciousness in the late 20th century.3 In 1999, the FDA allowed food producers to claim that soy protein was heart healthy, but continuing research has convinced government officials to take a closer look. Incidentally, there are 12 health claims sanctioned by the FDA for packaged foods, including the continued (and false) insistence that saturated fat is the culprit behind heart disease.4

The ‘Soy Is Good for Heart Disease’ Claim up for Discussion

While many in the conventional health and scientific communities aren’t prepared to rescind the assertion completely, Susan Mayne, the FDA’s director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition stated, after what she called an “extensive scientific review:”

“Our review of that evidence has led us to conclude that the relationship between soy protein and heart disease does not meet the rigorous standard for an FDA-authorized health claim … While some evidence continues to suggest a relationship between soy protein and a reduced risk of heart disease — including evidence reviewed by the FDA when the claim was authorized — the totality of currently available scientific evidence calls into question the certainty of this relationship.”5

A 75-day period of discussion is being allowed by the FDA for the public and stakeholders (aka manufacturers, lobbyists and those who stand to profit or suffer from the ruling or revocation) to petition for certain phrasing, which will be taken by a “case-by-case basis.”

However, there’s no guarantee you won’t see claims on food packages continuing the claim of a link between soy protein and a lowered risk of heart disease. In fact, between now and the FDA’s final ruling on the matter, manufacturers can continue advertising the claim. According to Time:

“The FDA says that it intends to allow the use of ‘a qualified health claim’ for soy protein (and says) a qualified health claim requires ‘lower scientific standard of evidence than an authorized health claim’ and would let producers use language that explains that the evidence on the link is limited.”6

How the Soybean and Natural Products Associations Weigh In

Not surprisingly, soy producers across the U.S. aren’t happy, especially since soy is the second-biggest crop in the U.S., making it a $40 billion industry, although 98 percent of it is for animal feed, according to Modern Farmer.7 So what changed their minds enough to contemplate a complete reversal on a stance the agency has maintained for nearly 20 years?

Naturally, the Soyfoods Association of North America has expressed concern and contends that numerous studies, both before the 1999 claim and after the new revocation proposal, hold up as a standard that soy protein lowers LDL cholesterol and that the evidence as a whole supports its heart-healthy claim. In reality, however, cholesterol is an essential component in nearly every cell in your body and is not the problem in heart disease, raising fundamental questions about this claim.

You could call it frustration on the parts of some entities, especially with accusations that the FDA’s evaluation process is “Spanish Inquisition-like.”8 Food Navigator featured comments of Daniel Fabricant, president and CEO of the Natural Products Association, who said he’s very curious as to the “tipping point” for the FDA’s decision and brings up questions regarding free speech and violations of the First Amendment.9

Soy and (Some of) the Derivatives Thereof: Edamame, Soy Milk and Tofu

All types of soy are based on a single plant species, Glycine max. There are dozens of breeds, and it depends on the age of the plant when it’s harvested which products it will be used for. Soybean pods allowed to mature the longest, Modern Farmer observes:

“ … [A]re hard and water-resistant, so they’re cheaper and easier to process into oil and soymeal for animal feed. While soymilk (and tofu, which is made from soymilk) is made from rehydrated and pulverized mature beans, edamame is made from the young, tender, green beans. And we mostly just don’t bother harvesting immature beans here [in the U.S.].”10

The Healthy Home Economist11 addresses the aforementioned controversy. What, for instance, is bean curd, and is tofu good for you? Natto, miso, traditional soy sauce and tempeh are all foods derived from fermented soybeans. Bean curd is just another name for tofu. Such foods came into being across China about 2,000 years ago when people began using different methods to remove not-so-healthy antinutrients.

Antinutrients are elements and compounds in soy foods such as lectins, saponins, soyatoxin, phytates (which prevent the absorption of certain minerals), oxalates, protease inhibitors, estrogens (which can block the hormone estrogen and disrupt endocrine function) and goitrogens (interfering with your thyroid function) as well as a blood clot-inhibiting substance called hemagglutinin. Other detriments are numerous.

In ancient times, it could take months to ferment so the soybeans would be edible, but The Healthy Home Economist says there’s evidence that they ate very little. In terms of fermenting, tofu is the exception, as it’s a very common food that undergoes extensive processing without fermentation. To create it, there’s a three-step process:

  1. Soybeans are made into soymilk.
  2. A coagulant is added made from salt and acids, making it firm.
  3. The bean curd result is then pressed into blocks, similar to cheese.

In a seemingly contradictive result of eating bean curd, the article adds results of research12 done on ancient Buddhist monks who were both vegan and celibate who happily reported that “eating a lot of soy dampened their libido and reproductive capacity.”13 In addition:

“Food manufacturers create modern tofu using a similar process. However, the traditional coagulants were typically safer. For example, clean, fresh seawater makes an excellent coagulant to transform soy milk into tofu. Compare this to the refined salts or GMO-derived citric acid used today.”14

Soy Products and the Most Insidious Drawbacks

Soy products have been touted for years as “health” foods, especially among vegans who eat tofu, soy cheese and soy milk for extra protein, but the fact is these products pose a greater risk by far than any benefit. It’s no surprise that many who dabble in the hallways of healthy eating still believe eating tofu is the essence of how one should eat if health is a prerequisite.

Most look at the fact that it offers high amounts of protein and iron as all they need to know. Thousands of vegans and vegetarians who ingest it without reservation can’t be wrong, right?

But both excessive protein and iron can be quite dangerous. Exacerbating the misguided line of thinking is that the “low-fat” part of the tofu equation is still, in many people’s minds, the mecca for anyone wanting to lose weight. Many dieticians, nutritionists and food manufacturers still claim tofu is your go-to for good eating.

However, not only are low-fat foods not the solution for weight loss but, as Elena Giordano, a Rutgers postdoctoral research associate in food sciences and nutrition, points out, 93 percent of soy is genetically engineered (GE),15 bringing with it its own set of problems.

A Time article asserts, “ … [I]f you’re worried, you can buy organic soy, which isn’t genetically altered.”16 But this still leaves many of the aforementioned problems. How close is the tofu and other soy protein products you see on grocery shelves and served in restaurants to what was eaten by Asian populations up to a few decades ago? Perhaps the best they can say is that today’s tofu is simply “tofu-like.”

Granted, there are lots of textures and treatments to choose from: firm, extra firm, silky, smoked, dried, frozen and so on.17 Tofu-inspired turkey product is one example of how soy protein is used as a meat replacement, which is a far cry from its traditional use as a food, especially since both traditional and modern Chinese cooking typically includes real meat, not a plant-based wannabe. Then there are the additives:

“Kind of like the bastardization of cheese, with all sorts of nondairy cheeses now filling store shelves, tofu is getting similar treatment. Peanut tofu, almond tofu, egg tofu and others are now available. Many of these don’t even follow a similar production process to soy tofu, but still try to claim the name (and the associated health benefits) for their own!”18

GMOs, Glysophate and Goitrogens

Besides the genetic engineering of most soy grown in the U.S., there are other dangers to consider when contemplating the attributes of consuming soy proteins. Organic options are available, but if you don’t choose them, it’s more than likely that you’ll be ingesting gut-wrecking glyphosate residues. The most common product dispensing it is Roundup, used by multimillion-dollar farming operations — and your next door neighbor — to control weeds.

The problem with glysophate, referred to as possibly the biggest factor in the development of chronic diseases and conditions in the world, is how widespread and devastating the associated problems are, ranging from dementia to autism, infertility to obesity, allergies to cancer. Research published in the journal Food Chemistry found GE soybeans contain high residues of glyphosate and its degradation product aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA).19

On average, GE soy tested in the study contained 11.9 parts per million (ppm) of glyphosate, with the highest residue level found coming in at 20.1 ppm — with unknown effects on human health. Grist adds that problems with “transgenic” contamination, in which GE soy from one field contaminates a non-GE field next door, has also grown along with the market shares of gargantuan biotech seed corporations like Monsanto and DuPont.

Case in point: In the U.S., around 90 percent of the soy, 90 percent of the corn and 80 percent of the cotton is genetically engineered.20 As for the goitrogens, many wonder why, if Asians have such a history of consuming soy, they seem to have the same problems with thyroid issues Westerners do. The answer is that traditionally, Asians haven’t eaten soy products like Colorado ranchers like their steaks: They typically eat very little soy.

Similarly, one must argue that they also eat far less in one sitting than the average American. Another potential reason is that, especially due to their geographic location, Asian diets contain much more iodine, which has compounds that are goitrogen protective. Further, traditionally fermented soy is the form that has been very popular in many Asian cultures for centuries, which is a far cry from the heavily processed non-fermented soy products that are popular in the U.S.

The Difference Between Fermented and Unfermented Soy

There’s a difference between soy that is organic as opposed to nonorganic, but there’s also a big difference when it’s fermented compared to unfermented. The fermentation process may take time and special consideration, but the health benefits are more than worth it. Importantly, the fermentation process “deactivates” many of the antinutrients in soy that act as toxins in your body. So if you want to eat soy, make sure it’s traditionally fermented.

As mentioned, what many seem to be missing regarding healthy Japanese people who’ve eaten soy is that it’s largely fermented soy. That includes products like miso, natto, traditionally made soy sauce and tempeh, but not tofu, because tofu is unfermented. Other products that don’t make the cut include:

  • TVP or textured soy protein
  • Soy cheese, soy ice cream, soy milk and soy yogurt
  • Soybean oil
  • Soy infant formula
  • Edamame

One way to keep yourself covered and eat foods that are actually good for you is to eat organic whenever possible, avoid unfermented soy products and also avoid foods that are heavily processed. Stay as “close to the earth” as you can in eating to ensure good health, at least as much as it depends on you.

Vitamin K2 — A Crucial Ingredient for Heart and Bone Health

By Dr. Mercola

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is well-known for its role in blood clotting. However, there are two different kinds of vitamin K,1 each providing its own set of health benefits. Vitamin K1 is primarily responsible for blood clotting whereas vitamin K2 works synergistically with calcium, magnesium and vitamin D to impart a number of important health benefits, including but not limited to:2

Preventing osteoporosis3

Preventing hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)4 and lowering your heart attack risk5

Directing calcium to your bones, making them stronger, and your teeth to help prevent cavities.

It also prevents calcium from going to the wrong areas, such as to your kidneys, where it could lead to kidney stones, or your blood vessels, where it could trigger heart disease

Creating insulin to stabilize your blood sugar (keeping your system sensitive to maintaining correct amounts), thereby protecting against diabetes and helping to prevent metabolic problems associated with obesity

Optimizing sexual function by increasing testosterone and fertility in men

Decreasing androgens, the male hormones, in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome

Suppressing genes that can promote cancer while strengthening genes that promote healthy cells.

The 2010 European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study6 found that high intake of vitamin K2 — not K1 — leads to reduced cancer risk, as well as a 30 percent lower risk of dying from cancer7

Enhancing your ability to utilize energy as you exercise improving overall performance.

Serving as a mitochondrial electron carrier, vitamin K2 also helps maintain normal ATP production in mitochondrial dysfunction, such as that found in Parkinson’s disease8

Protecting against neurological deficiencies, including dementia

Prevent infectious diseases such as pneumonia

Improving disease activity in those with rheumatoid arthritis,9 and, in combination with vitamin D, improving osteoarthritis of the knee10,11,12

Reducing the risk of osteoporosis and spontaneous fractures in adults with cerebral palsy13

Supporting healthy immune function

Supporting growth and development of the fetus during pregnancy

Higher Vitamin K2 Intake Associated With Improved Heart Health

In the video above, Kate Rheaume-Bleue, a naturopathic physician and author of “Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox” discusses the importance of this often-overlooked vitamin, and its synergistic effects with other nutrients. Vitamin K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification of soft tissues that can lead to atherosclerosis.

A recent article in Life Extension Magazine14 also highlights the cardiovascular benefits of vitamin K2. Importantly, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study15 published in 2015 found that taking 180 micrograms (mcg) per day of vitamin K2 (MK-7 form) for three years improved arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women, especially those who had a high degree of arterial stiffness.

At the end of the study, the treatment group had a 5.8 percent lower stiffness index beta (a parameter of arterial stiffness) and a 3.6 percent lower carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (a test that measures arterial stiffness). The placebo group, on the other hand, saw a 1.3 and 0.22 percent increase in these measurements respectively.

This study has been lauded as significant because while previous studies have only been able to show an association, this is the first to confirm that long-term use of vitamin K2 in the form of MK-7 does improve cardiovascular health. Prior to this study, it was unclear whether taking additional vitamin K2 could actually reverse calcification of the arteries that had already occurred. As noted in Life Extension:16

“This is the first long-term human trial showing improvements in measures of arterial stiffness in response to long-acting vitamin K2.

While the 5.8 percent and 3.6 percent improvements might not appear substantial, when realizing that calcification often worsens with age, the fact that there was a reversal in arterial stiffness compared to placebo is quite remarkable … This provides us all with an opportunity to restore more youthful flexibility to aging blood vessels and other soft tissues.”

Other Studies Also Confirm Vitamin K2 Helps Reduce Cardiovascular Events and Lowers Mortality

Other previous studies have also clearly demonstrated vitamin K2’s importance for heart health and longevity. In the Rotterdam Study,17 which ran for 10 years, those who consumed the greatest amounts of K2 had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular calcification, and the lowest chance of dying from cardiovascular disease.

People who consumed 45 mcg of K2 daily lived seven years longer than people getting 12 mcg per day. This was a profound discovery because such a correlation did not exist for K1 intake. In a subsequent trial called the Prospect Study,18,19 16,000 people were followed for 10 years. Here, they found that each additional 10 mcg of K2 in the diet resulted in 9 percent fewer cardiac events.

Vitamin K2 Is Crucial for Osteoporosis Prevention

As mentioned, vitamin K2 also plays a crucial role in bone health,20 and may be critical for the prevention of osteoporosis (brittle bones). Osteocalcin is a protein produced by your osteoblasts (cells responsible for bone formation), and is utilized within the bone as an integral part of the bone-forming process. However, osteocalcin must be “carboxylated” before it can be effective. Vitamin K functions as a cofactor for the enzyme that catalyzes the carboxylation of osteocalcin.

If you do not have sufficient amounts of vitamin K2, you run the risk of both brittle bones and calcification in your soft tissues. In other words, vitamin K2 is necessary to keep your bones strong and your soft tissues pliable. A number of Japanese trials have shown that vitamin K2 completely reverses bone loss and in some cases even increases bone mass in people with osteoporosis.21

The pooled evidence of seven Japanese trials also show that vitamin K2 supplementation produces a 60 percent reduction in vertebral fractures and an 80 percent reduction in hip and other nonvertebral fractures.22 One Chinese meta-analysis23 of 19 randomized controlled trials found that vitamin K2 supplementation significantly improved vertebral bone density in postmenopausal women and reduced the risk of bone fractures.

Another three-year-long placebo-controlled study24 done in the Netherlands found that postmenopausal women taking 180 mcg of MK-7 per day increased their bone strength and saw a decrease in the rate of age-related bone mineral decline and reduced loss of bone density, compared to those taking a placebo. The following graphic, from a 2014 research paper25 on vitamin K2, illustrates the dual effect of vitamin K on bone and vascular health.

Source: Dermato-Endocrinology 2014: 6(1)

The Differences Between Vitamins K1 and K2, and Why They Are Not Interchangeable

In the 1980s, it was discovered that vitamin K2 is needed to activate the protein osteocalcin, which is found in your bone. A decade or so later, another vitamin K-dependent protein was discovered: matrix Gla protein (MGP), found in your vascular system. Without vitamin K2, these and other vitamin K2-dependent proteins remain inactivated, and cannot perform their biological functions.

Another important finding was that MGP strongly inhibits calcification. When MGP remains inactivated, you end up with serious arterial calcifications, and this is why vitamin K2 is so crucial for cardiovascular health. The difference between vitamins K1 and K2 was clearly established in the Rotterdam Study,26 published in 2004. A variety of foods were measured for vitamin K content, and vitamin K1 was found to be present in high amounts in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli and cabbage.

Vitamin K2, on the other hand, was only present in fermented foods. It’s actually produced by specific bacteria during the fermentation process. Certain bacteria in your gut naturally produce vitamin K2 in your body as well. Interestingly, while the K1 in vegetables is poorly absorbed, virtually all of the K2 in fermented foods is readily available to your body. More recent research has identified the foods highest in vitamin K2. I’ll discuss that further below. Vitamin K2 can be further broken down into:27

1. MK-4 (menaquinone-4), a short-chain form of vitamin K2 found in animal-based foods such as grass fed butter, butter oil and pastured egg yolks. Avoid supplements containing MK-4, however, as supplements only use a synthetic form of MK-4, typically obtained from tobacco plant extract.

MK-4 also has a very short biological half-life — about one hour — making it a poor candidate as a dietary supplement. That said, natural MK-4 from food is important for good health,28 as MK-4 plays a role in gene expression, turning some genes off and others on, and is therefore important for cancer prevention.29

2. MK-7 (menaquinone-7), longer-chain forms found in fermented foods. There’s a variety of these long-chain forms but the most common one is MK-7. This is the one you’ll want to look for in supplements, as this form is extracted from real food, specifically natto, a fermented soy product.

The MK-7, which forms in the fermentation process, has two major advantages. It stays in your body longer and has a longer half-life, which means you can take it just once a day in very convenient dosing. Research30 has shown MK-7 helps prevent inflammation by inhibiting proinflammatory markers produced by white blood cells called monocytes.


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Top Two MK-7 Vitamin K2 Sources

Again, vitamin K2 is found primarily in animal-based foods (MK-4) and fermented foods (MK-7). However, when it comes to MK-7, it’s important to realize that not all bacteria make K2, so only certain fermented foods will contain it. Grain fed animals will also produce far lower amounts of K2, and are best avoided for other reasons. Only grass fed animals will develop naturally high K2 levels.

For these reasons, most commercial yogurts are virtually devoid of vitamin K2, and while certain types of cheeses, such as Gouda, brie and Edam are high in K2, others are not. One of the best ways to get plenty of vitamin K2 from your diet it is to regularly eat home-fermented vegetables made with a special starter culture designed with bacterial strains that produce vitamin K2.

You can get up to 500 mcg of vitamin K2 in a 2-ounce serving of fermented vegetables using such a starter culture, which is a clinically therapeutic dose. This is also one of your most economical alternatives.

To learn more about making your own fermented vegetables with a starter culture, see “How to Make Cultured Veggies at Home.” Natto is another well-known source of MK-7 vitamin K2. With 11 mcg per gram, it contains some of the highest amounts of MK-7 of any food.31,32

Other Food Sources High in Vitamin K2

Testing33 by the Weston A. Price Foundation reveals there are virtually no other foods that can contend with natto in terms of providing MK-7 vitamin K2. Coming in at No. 1 for the richest source of MK-4 vitamin K2 is emu oil, which contains anywhere from 3.9 to 4.4 mcg of MK-4 per gram, but only a near-nonexistent 0.002 mcg/g of MK-7. While not very well-known, emu oil is a traditional fat and functional food from Australia, and is commercially available in supplement form.

To learn more about this oil, including what to look for in a high-quality supplement, see this blog post by registered nurse Kayla Grossmann.34 As mentioned, MK-4 does have important health benefits, but it does not appear to be as impressive as MK-7. Here’s a sampling of other foods that contain higher amounts of vitamin K2 (MK-4 and MK-7).35 For complete results, download the test findings from WestonAPrice.com.36

Food source Mcg/g of MK-4 Mcg/g of MK-7

Natto

0

11

Emu oil

3.9 to 4.4

0.002

Oysters

0.001

0.002

Wild shrimp

0.0002

0.01

Chicken liver (farmed)

0.1

0.0008

Chicken liver (conventional)

0.04

0.01

Green Pastures butter oil

0.8

0

Cabot extra sharp aged cheddar

0.1

0.01

Nature’s Promise organic sharp cheddar

0.09

0.007

PA Bowen Farmstead reserve cheddar

0.08

0.01

PA Bowen Farmstead raw blue cheese

0.04

0.01

Lard (pastured)

0.2

0

How Much Vitamin K2 Do You Need?

As for a clinically useful dosage of vitamin K2, some studies — including the Rotterdam study37 — have shown as little as 45 mcg per day is sufficient. As a general guideline, I recommend getting around 150 mcg of vitamin K2 per day. Others recommend slightly higher amounts; upward of 180 to 200 mcg.

You can obtain healthy amounts of K2 by eating 15 grams (half an ounce) of natto each day, or fermented vegetables. If you fermented them using a starter culture designed with vitamin K2-producing bacteria, 1 ounce will give you about 200 to 250 mcgs.

If you are taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement, you may also need more vitamin K2, in order to maintain a healthy ratio. While the ideal or optimal ratios between vitamin D and vitamin K2 have yet to be elucidated, Rheaume-Bleue (see featured video) suggests taking 100 mcg of vitamin K2 for every 1,000 IUs of vitamin D you take.

If you opt for a vitamin K2 supplement, make sure it’s MK-7. Also remember to take it with fat since it’s fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed otherwise. Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about overdosing on K2, as it appears to be completely nontoxic. People have been given a thousandfold “overdose” over the course of three years, showing no adverse reactions (i.e., no increased clotting tendencies).

Keep in mind that vitamin K2 may not necessarily make you “feel better” per se. Its internal workings are such that you’re not likely to feel the difference physically. Compliance can therefore be a problem, as people are more likely to take something that has a noticeable effect. So, remember, the fact you don’t feel a difference does not mean it’s not doing anything.

Contraindications

While nontoxic, people who are taking vitamin K antagonists, i.e., drugs that reduce blood clotting by reducing the action of vitamin K, are advised to avoid MK-7 supplements.38 Also, if you are pregnant or nursing, avoid vitamin K2 supplementation higher than the RDA (65 mcg) unless specifically recommended and monitored by your physician.

If you or your family has a history of osteoporosis or heart disease, I strongly advise adding vitamin K2 to your diet. Taking a little extra vitamin K2 every day is a simple way to ensure your blood vessels don’t calcify. However, if you have experienced stroke, cardiac arrest, or are prone to blood clotting, you should not take vitamin K2 without first consulting your physician.

Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin K Deficiency

The following conditions may put you at an increased risk of vitamin K deficiency:

  • Eating a poor or restricted diet
  • Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease and other conditions that interfere with nutrient absorption
  • Liver disease that interferes with vitamin K storage
  • Taking drugs such as broad-spectrum antibiotics, cholesterol drugs and aspirin

Some of the signs and symptoms of a vitamin K deficiency include:39

  • Blood thinning, poor clot formation, easy bruising and excessive bleeding from wounds, punctures or injections
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Anemia (looking tired and pale; feeling weak and listless)
  • Bleeding from your gastrointestinal tract; blood in urine and/or stool
  • Frequent nose bleeds

When Supplementing, Balance Vitamin K2 With Magnesium, Calcium and Vitamin D

One of the major benefits of getting your nutrients from a varied whole food diet is that you’re less likely to end up with lopsided nutrient ratios. Foods in general contain all the cofactors and needed co-nutrients in the proper ratios for optimal health. Essentially, the wisdom of Mother Nature eliminates the guesswork. When you rely on supplements, you need to pay closer attention to how nutrients influence and interact with each other in order to avoid getting yourself into trouble.

As mentioned, we know that vitamin K2 acts synergistically with magnesium, calcium and vitamin D, so it’s important to consider all of these ratios. Unfortunately, we don’t yet know the precise ideal ratios between all of these nutrients. Some general guidelines and considerations include the following:

Magnesium will help keep calcium in your cells so they can do their job better. The ideal ratio between magnesium and calcium is currently thought to be 1-to-1. Keep in mind that since you’re likely getting far more calcium from your diet than you are magnesium, your need for supplemental magnesium may be two to three times greater than calcium.

Magnesium and vitamin K2 also complement each other, as magnesium helps lower blood pressure, which is an important component of heart disease.

Vitamin K2 has two crucial functions: cardiovascular health and bone restoration. By removing calcium from the lining of the blood vessels and shuttling it into your bone matrix, vitamin K2 helps prevent occlusions from atherosclerosis. Meanwhile, vitamin D helps optimize calcium absorption.

Vitamins D and K2 also work together to produce and activate Matrix GLA Protein (MGP), which congregates around the elastic fibers of your arterial lining, thereby guarding your arteries against calcium crystal formation.

As for how much vitamin D you need, I strongly recommend getting your vitamin D level tested twice a year (summer and winter) to help determine your personal dosage. Sensible sun exposure is the ideal way to optimize your levels, but if you opt for a supplement, your “ideal dosage” is one that will put you into the therapeutic range of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter.

Something Very Big, Part III: Saudi Mass Arrests Sign of Impending Cabal Defeat?

 

49 top Saudi officials were arrested and hundreds more have had their bank accounts seized, beginning on November 4th.

Once we understand that these individuals were coordinating ISIS,…

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Polish Nationalist Youth March Draws Thousands

12 November 2017

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (VIA RED ICE) — Tens of thousands of Poles marched across downtown Warsaw on Saturday, in an independence-day procession organized by a nationalist youth movement.

The largely young crowd shot off roman candles and many chanted “fatherland,” carrying banners that read “White Europe,” “Europe Will Be White” and “Clean Blood.” Some of the marchers flew in from Hungary, Slovakia and Spain.

A number of people in the crowd said they didn’t belong to any neo-fascist or racist organization but didn’t see a problem with the overall tone of what has become Poland’s biggest independence day event.

“There are of course nationalists and fascists at this march,” said Mateusz, a 27-year-old wrapped in a Polish flag, “I’m fine with it. I’m just happy to be here.” […]

Occult Worship — Hollywood’s Other Dirty Secret That Everyone Knows of But No One Talks About

By Buck Rogers | 3 November 2017

WAKING TIMES — The avalanche of revelations about the perverted and predatory sexual underbelly of Hollywood and the entertainment industry is long overdue. It has always been an open secret of sorts, but the whole house is coming down right now as more people are suddenly feeling empowered to speak out, and the media is finally ready to listen and take seriously to the stories of victims.

But what if pedophilia and the sexual harassment of women in entertainment is only a symptom and not actually the disease?

Just below the surface, hidden in plain sight in Hollywood is the overwhelming influence of the occult and the esoteric schools of ancient black magic. It has always been present in this industry because those who seek power in our world have long recognized that television, film and music are the most efficient and important roadways into the public psyche and the collective conscience.

Many have warned us about this for years, composing volumes of books and videos, gathering evidence of this bizarre conspiracy.

“Hollywood is, as David Lynch titles it, an “inland empire” – a kind of covenantal city-state of its own, with its own religion, including all the trappings of neophytes, acolytes, servants, agents, star saints, hierophants and hierarchs and holy sites.  It is a veritable polis of initiatory esoterica where the holy sites and rites of Hollywood are not the altars of mainstream religion, but another ancient religion, ultimately summed up in the epithet of the ancient mysteries.  The ancient mysteries comprise the competing religious practices of the empires of old, but the one empire that seems to have achieved the most appropriate association with Hollywood is Babylon – the “gate of the gods”.” ~Jay Dyer

Clues appear in the form of symbols and the use of symbolic set and setting in order to introduce occult memes into the subconscious. Subliminal messages packed with sexual innuendo including veiled pornographic images and reproductive anatomy are vaguely concealed in films. Music videos are laden with satanic imagery and overtly demonic themes.

Here is a compilation of examples of this in many of Disney’s children’s films […]