Vitamin K is one of the most misunderstood vitamins, partly because of the fact that it was recently discovered. Many of its benefits are not even very well known yet. It was given its name because K was the next available letter in the alphabet, also because of the German word for coagulation. But vitamin K is much more than a coagulation vitamin. How would you like to improve your absorption of calcium, build strong bones, improve the health of your cells, keep cancer and bay, keep your arteries from calcifying and much more, just by adding one vitamin to your daily routine?
How vitamin K was discovered
It was 1929 when Danish chemist Henrik Dam first found out about vitamin K as part of his experimentation on cholesterol and steroid hormones. Then in 1940 the structural components of vitamin K were isolated by American chemist Edward Doisy from Washington University in St. Louis. He is credited with discovering the structure of vitamin k. Both Henrik Dam and Edward Doisy were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology in 1943 for the discovery of vitamin k.
Ironically, the history of vitamin K and warfarin are tied together, both were discovered almost simultaneously.
How warfarin was discovered
It was the 1920’s, around the time of the Great Depression, when many farmers in the northern part of the USA and Canada, trying to cut costs, started giving their animals some cattle feed made with moldy clover. The problem was that animals started bleeding and dying. The cause of death was a mystery, but after some research, they found a chemical in clover they called coumarin that when clover molded turned into a rancid oxidized byproduct they called dicoumarol. After some thought, they decided to put it to use and by 1948 it was approved as a rat poison and was given the name “warfarin”. A few years later, drug companies seeing the increase in surgeries, (surgeries being a main cause of blood clotting), sought the use of this rat killer for human use. In 1954 it was approved as a blood thinning drug. Then, in 1955 President Eisenhower had a heart attack and he was the first famous person to use it. Right then, it became one of the most widely used drugs, to this day.
The truth of the matter is that warfarin is one of the most toxic drugs there are, according to pharmacist Ben Fuchs. Not only this, according to him, artificially trying to interfere with the clotting mechanism is a very serious and dangerous matter.
Warfarin still causes many problems today. According to http://www.poison.org “Every year, nearly 100,000 adults aged 65 and older are admitted to the hospital for drug side effects. In a recent study, the majority of problems were caused by “blood thinners” (warfarin and other oral anti-thrombosis drugs) and diabetes drugs (insulin and oral diabetes medicines).” According to this website, side effects of blood thinning drugs are: “Bleeding gums, bleeding after shaving that lasts longer than usual, red or brown urine, red or black stools, unusual bruises, an unusually heavy menstrual period, a bad headache, bad stomach pain, an accident or fall.”
In this website, you can read a graphic story of what happened to an elderly woman who was on a blood thinning drug:
“A 78-year-old woman was taking her prescribed dose of Coumadin 5 mg daily for about a month. She began to have black stools and was coughing up blood clots. She awoke one morning with a mouthful of blood and was brought to the hospital. Studies of her blood (coagulation studies) confirmed the reason: too much blood thinner had built up in her system. Poison Control recommended vitamin K. After one dose her coagulation studies improved and her symptoms resolved. She was hospitalized for 2 days.”
The problem with warfarin, according to pharmacist Ben Fuchs, is that it is very hard to control the dose, mainly because blood clotting is a variable, it changes constantly. The body tightly controls blood clotting so forcing the blood to thin is a very dangerous thing. He adds, if you want to thin the blood why not use red clover? Red clover is a powerful anticoagulant, so following the recommended dose is always advised. You can find red clover as an active ingredient in the Detoxifier Extract from Healthy Hearts Club, it is a great product for detoxifying the blood and keeping it from clotting.
Roles of vitamin K
The first and most well-known role of vitamin K is clotting the blood. It is for this reason that doctors will ask patients who are on a blood thinner like warfarin to stop taking vitamin K supplements or any vitamin K containing foods. The reason for this is that vitamin K starts the clotting process in the body and antagonizes the action of Warfarin. According to Ben Fuchs, Warfarin acts by selectively poisoning vitamin K chemistry in the body. He explains, the newer anticoagulant drugs like Plavix and Pradaxa do not have this effect on vitamin K, but they are still toxic drugs.
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient, it is non-toxic and has a long list of great health benefits. This is proven by the fact that our gut bacteria makes vitamin K, and this makes deficiencies rare, but in today’s world, with so many attacks on our gut, it is hard to know how much vitamin K is available.
We have already seen how to keep the blood from clotting naturally, so supplementing with vitamin k shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Besides, when you find out how important vitamin K is, you are not going to want to do without it.
Sources and types of vitamin K
The fact that probiotic bacteria in our gut makes vitamin K is a proof of how important it is. Newborns, because they don’t have a fully developed gut bacteria can be deficient in it, but the best way to make sure they have it is for the mother to have a healthy diet high in probiotics and fermented foods, as well as vitamin K.
There are two major types of vitamin K, Vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is made by plants by the process known as photosynthesis, so the best vegetarian sources of K1 are vegetables, wheat grass and ocean vegetation. K1 is a clotting vitamin and it primarily stays in the liver. Vitamin K2, on the other hand, travels around the body performing many different jobs we will explain shortly. K2 is found in cholesterol rich foods like cheese, butter, organ meats, dairy, but the highest source is a fermented food called natto.
Vitamin K can be confusing because it is actually a family of vitamins, with 7 different subtypes, the best well known are mk-4 and mk-7.
The many benefits of vitamin K
According to Ben Fuchs vitamin K has a long list of wonderful benefits:
1. Energizing vitamin: Vitamin K carries energy inside the cell, to the place where the cell manufactures energy, the mitochondria. The mitochondria then uses this energy to power our cells, tissues and organs. What is particularly interesting is that the structures in the body that need energy the most, the heart, the brain and the digestive system have around 1,000 little mitochondria inside their cells. Because healthy mitochondria depend on vitamin K to function properly, these organs are going to depend on vitamin K greatly.
Vitamin K also carries electrical energy around into various chemical reactions and activates them. In this way, vitamin K is like a battery the body can use to energize cells. This is tightly tied to the process known as photosynthesis, by which green foods can trap solar energy and convert it into electrical energy. When animals and humans eat these foods they get the energy benefits of the sun.
The way vitamin K accomplishes this energizing role is by getting inside the cell membrane and carrying electrical energy and thus activating chemical reactions, especially the ones involving calcium. Vitamin K can literally drill itself inside the part of the cell that processes calcium and activate it. When this happens, calcium is then able to turn all the chemical reactions that take place in the cell. This is of extreme importance because of all the ways calcium is used in the body: contracting muscles, strengthen bones and teeth, firing nerve cells, etc.
We need to remember we are electrical beings by the electrical nature of vitamins and minerals. This highly electrical chemical structure of vitamin K makes it very important for the next health issue, cancer.
2. Anticancer: this is vitamin K’s most important role. Ben Fuchs explains that cells depend on electrical energy to do their job and stay healthy. Keeping the electrical energy going is of utmost importance, as is keeping the environment the cells live in pristine condition. What is more, cells have a positive and negative electrical charge, it is this battery-like nature that determines their health. What keeps this electrical nature healthy? Nutrition, clean blood and oxygen. When the cell is swimming in toxic, dirty blood, is being starved by lack of nutrition and suffocated by lack of oxygen, the cell won’t be able to do its job and its normal growth and division will be affected. This is essential to understand, changes in the normal electrical nature of the blood will initiate changes in how the cells divide and grow. This is where disease starts. So we could say that since the blood is a liquid organ, it depends on this fluidity to keep the electrical energy moving to bathe the cells and to keep cell growth and division tightly regulated. Toxins floating in the blood, inflammation, lack of oxygen and lack of nutrition (electrical nutrients) are going to interrupt the normal electrical flow of energy. This is very significant in the case of cancer. Ben Fuchs explains that cancer starts with one single cell losing its normal electrical charge, then more cells are affected. By the time someone has cancer this electrical malfunction has been going on for years. Things like eating sugar will only add fuel to the fire. The end result is a change in genetics.
He emphasizes that the electrical health of cells is of extreme importance. To prove it, he explains that a healthy cell has as much electrical energy relative to its size as a bolt of lightning. If you multiply that by a hundred trillion cells, you get 100 billion trillion volts of electricity in the human body.
Since vitamin K is highly electrical, it keeps electrical energy in the body tightly regulated and organized in a controlled fashion. By keeping electrical energy tightly regulated and controlled vitamin K can protect cells from mutations and from growing out of control.
Studies done on Vitamin K
There have been several studies done on vitamin K that prove its beneficial effects on cancer. In the ‘International Journal of Oncology’ from 2003 researchers found that vitamin K suppresses the growth of cancer cells. Other studies have shown that vitamin K can help turn leukemia cells back to normal cells. In The Alternative Medicine Review titled ‘The anti-cancer effects of vitamin K’ from 2003, researchers concluded that vitamin K’s protective properties comes from its ability to protect genes.
In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008 researchers showed an inverse relation between vitamin K and prostate cancer. And in a study by the ‘European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition’, 11,000 men were studied and research found vitamin K was related to a 35% reduction of prostate cancer risk.
Vitamin K has been shown to stop the progress of liver cancer cells, by affecting how liver cells grow.
Vitamin k blocks the progression and division of cancer cells by several mechanisms:
a. Apoptosis: Vitamin K causes cancer cells to ‘commit suicide’.
b. Oncosis: Vitamin K suffocates cancer cells without affecting normal cells. In a 2005 article published in the “Journal of Molecular Pharmacology” they found that when breast cancer cells were exposed to vitamin K, they experienced oncosis within 4 hours of treatment.
c. Autophagy: via this mechanism vitamin K makes cancer cells release their own digestive enzymes inside themselves, in other words, they ‘eat themselves’.
In his article “Autophagy: turning stress into health” Dr. Champ describes it like this: “Our cells are constantly breaking down, repairing themselves, and regenerating. However, this process is by no means perfect, and often some parts are unfixable. Also, often cells are just too old and beat up, and much like an old 1985 Yugo, sometimes it’s better to just totally replace the old piece of junk. Of note, the Yugo may actually be the worst car ever. Well, autophagy is the process that takes this old Yugo, strips off the pleather seats and interior, and reuses the metal to build a brand new Ferrari. In fact, the process of autophagy uses structures called lysosomes, which are able to tear apart and reuse our cellular parts or even completely destroy unusable Yugo-esque parts. This garbage is converted to amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, which can then be transported throughout the body for use. This process helps rejuvenate cells and clear out the junk that builds up….Combining intense exercise, and a low-glucose lifestyle is likely a near-perfect combination of turning on autophagy while minimizing excessive damage. It’s no surprise that they are all the same mechanisms that have naturally been experienced in nature for millions of years.”
d. The presence of vitamin K, makes cancer cells split open and die. This requires the participation of vitamin C, another very important anti-cancer vitamin. They work together in this fashion.
e. Vitamin K has also been found to suppress blood vessels that feed cancer cells.
f. Vitamin K can also disrupt cancer cell communication systems keeping cancer cells from ‘teaming up’ with one another and metastasizing.
As you can see, vitamin k has great benefits, it is not chemotherapy but shows a very powerful and non-toxic effect on cancer.
3. Powerful antioxidant.
4. Cardiovascular and circulatory health. Because vitamin K is so highly electrical, it can help the blood to stay electrically charged and fluid, which will help our heart as well.
5. Bone building and anti-calcification: Vitamin K, calcium and vitamin D work together to build bone. First, Vitamin D allows calcium to get inside bone cells. Then calcium is used in the body to activate some chemicals called ‘Calcium Dependent Proteins’ that need calcium to do their job of contracting muscles, building bone, making the heart pump, helping nerve cells fire, etc. These chemicals are inactive without calcium. What is more, these calcium dependent proteins have little hooks with which they ‘hook on’ to calcium and do their job. It is vitamin K that allows these chemicals to make these calcium trapping hooks (a process that in chemistry is known as ‘carboxylation’). Without hooks, they cannot trap calcium which means that calcium can be found floating in the blood and can start accumulating in soft tissue, a deadly process called ‘calcification’ This can also cause clots, plaques in arteries and soft tissue and kidney stones. It also means that without these hooks all the activities these chemicals perform cannot be carried out: contracting muscles (the heart is a muscle), firing nerve cells, building bone, etc. One example of these proteins is osteocalcin that traps calcium and remineralizes bones, without vitamin K this cannot happen.
Ben Fuchs explains that because of this relation between calcium and Vitamin K, vitamin K is as important to build bones as calcium itself.
Vitamin K then is used both to clean up the blood from calcium that could be found floating and it is used to put calcium where it is needed to calcify bones and teeth.
Vitamin K and cholesterol
We have seen how LDL (low density lipo-protein) is not cholesterol but a protein that transports cholesterol around the body. Because vitamin K is a fatty vitamin it depends on LDL to be transported from the liver to different tissues in the body including the heart and the circulatory system. If you are avoiding cholesterol, or are on a statin drug, then delivery of this important vitamin is going to be compromised. That means calcification of the blood and organs, because vitamin K cannot clean the blood from excess calcium floating around, which can precipitate the formation of plaques in the blood vessels and ironically lead to heart disease, osteoporosis, kidney stones and death. Vitamin k is also important for the skin, it can keep the connective tissue proteins from calcifying, this means less wrinkles and less aging looking skin. It will also help with bruising.
Vitamin K and nerve cells health
Nerve cells run on calcium more than any other cells, calcium in this sense improves nerve cell conduction, people with movement disorders can benefit from taking vitamin k.
We have seen how inflammation will initiate the clotting process more than anything else. In this sense, clotting is the way the body defends itself from the offending agents that get in the blood inappropriately: pieces and particles of food mainly, followed by immune complexes in the blood, white blood cells and thickening sluggish red blood cells. When this happens, the body perceives this as a life threatening situation and clots the blood to prevent hemorrhage. Since this is the primary source of blood clotting, we should focus on addressing this rather than taking dangerous toxic drugs that do not fix the underlying problem. When we do this, we won’t have to worry about avoiding healthy foods rich in vitamin K1. We can also eat cholesterol rich foods because they help vitamin K2 be transported where calcium needs it to build strong bones and to trap calcium that could cause calcification of our heart and arteries, brain and kidneys.
In supplemental form, vitamin K2 can be found in doses up to 5,000 mcg. Take your Calcium Extract with vitamin K and D for great absorption. Thanks for reading.