Thanks for your questions – I’ve done a fair bit of investigation to get all the answers; it has proved difficult, partly because it is relatively recent that the vitamin K2 contents of foods has been ascertained – the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) determined the vitamin K2 contents of foods in the U.S. diet for the first time in 2006.
I enlisted the help of Pedro Carrera-Bastos to answer some of your questions.
Although grass-fed meat is generally higher in vitamin K2 than grain-fed meat is, I couldn’t find the specific content of vitamin K2 in grass-fed meat anywhere. Better meat sources of vitamin K2 include chicken thigh and goose leg (although I think it unlikely that one’s local supermarket will stock goose leg!).
Goose leg and chicken thigh have about 30 micrograms of vitamin K2/100 g.
Organ meats, especially liver, are excellent sources of vitamin K2 as well.
Also, if you ingest more than 1000 micrograms of vitamin K1, you may not need to worry about vitamin K2, because then the amount of K1 that gets converted to K2 might be adequate. 100 g of kale would provide that much K1, as well as a significant amount of bioavailable calcium.
Besides Gouda, Jarlsberg, Edam and Brie are also good sources of vitamin K2.
Regarding goats cheese, it is preferable over cheese made from cows milk because of its lower oestrogen content.
Grass-fed clarified butter is a good option to use as a cooking oil – it is a good source of vitamin K2 and doesn’t have the negative effects of other dairy foods (because it doesn’t have any of the milk proteins in it, which is generally speaking the unhealthy part of most dairy products).
Using grass-fed clarified butter instead of vegetable oil for cooking reduces your intake of omega-6 fats and increases your vitamin K2 intake at the same time.
At the moment vitamin K2 can only be measured in research laboratories.
A couple of useful links:
This paper is interesting (albeit difficult to read!) and also has a list of the vitamin K2 content of a few foods:
Vitamin K2: Optimal Levels Essential for the Prevention of Age-Associated Chronic Disease
And some easier to read links:
Vitamin K2: The Missing Nutrient
Why Vitamin K2 is so important (and how to get it)
Generally speaking, K2 research seems to be in its infancy…
Thank you for pulling these papers together, and for mentioning ours.
There is much to discuss in the sugar-damage caused to lipids.
It remains a great shame that the ‘S-drug’ attacking the benefits that flow from cholesterol remains popular, in spite of the inevitable broad range of adverse reactions.
My essay on this is here http://www.lizscript.co.uk/glyn/paradox.pdf
Thank you for your comments and your paper ‘The High-Cholesterol Paradox’ which makes for excellent reading!
Dear Dr. Madhvi,
Very interesting articles indeed!
In Southern India, Shark fish is the Grandmothers recipe for pregnant and nursing mothers. Wondering if it contains more Omega 3 or 6.
Also here is the link to the The Indian study on antibiotics use in poultry industry:
Thank you for the feedback and the link to antibiotics in poultry.
All fish contain more omega 3 than omega 6. I looked up shark fish, and it comes under the ‘white fish’ category so the ratio of 3:6 is probably in the region of 10:1, although I couldn’t find the exact figure. (Swordfish has 800 mgs of omega-3 and 30 mgs of omega-6 per 100g, and I would imagine that shark fish is similar).
The main drawback of shark fish is that it has one of the highest levels of contaminants (.979ppm compared to .391ppm in tuna and .001ppm in shrimp).
Worryingly here are some of the recommendations from the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition about eating fish when trying to get pregnant, or when breastfeeding:
Shark, swordfish and marlin: do not eat these if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. All other adults, including breastfeeding women, should eat no more than one portion per week. This is because these fish can contain more mercury than other types of fish, and this can damage a developing baby’s nervous system.
The easiest way of improving the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in one’s diet is to reduce the amounts of omega-6 foods by cutting back on vegetable oils which are particularly high in omega-6 fats.
I wonder if you could comment further on probiotics- friends take Kombucha( fermented probiotic tea) and my kids like yakult- im sure more for the sugar content.
Also we have cut down grains and sugar- is rice a grain? or is mainly the gluten containing grains that are the problem?
I’m not sure about kombucha and probiotics in general – my preferred way of improving one’s microbiome is by following a Palaeolithic diet.
As for rice – it is a grain but doesn’t contain gluten. Rice is probably better than gluten containing grains – that could possibly be one of the reasons for the longevity of Okinawans – the only grain that they eat is rice, and that too in small quantities – most of their diet consists of vegetables.
Keep up the good work with cutting down grains and sugar!
Sorry just briefly scanned this article and alarmed as I have been giving my children supplements as they don’t like fish- does that mean we can have a healthy diet without fish? They do like mussels and squid though
Mussels are a really good and sustainable source of omega-3 fats. And yes, it is easy to have a healthy diet without fish. Avoid/cut down on sugar, grains, and milk.
Thank you Madhvi, For putting this so simply. I have found this article very useful and informative. I shall now make a conscious effort to balance my 6′s & 3′s!
Glad you found this useful!
I am a vegan and wanted some advice on what vitamins I need to be aware of in order to maintain a healthy diet. I am researching what are the best proteins (not derived from animals) but would love to hear your recommendations.
Vegans need to be very careful about their diets – there are a fair number of nutrients which vegans are at risk of running low on, and others of which they have too much.
Important nutrients which vegans might end up being low on:
- Vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin K2, zinc, iron, long chain omega-3 fatty acids, essential amino acids
This isn’t a comprehensive list – there are probably others that I don’t know about.
Nutrients which vegans might end up having too much of:
- Omega-6 fatty acids – high levels in vegetable oils
- Lectins – high levels present in wheat, lentils and soya
- Phytates and protease inhibitors – present in wheat and soya
Vitamin B12 stores in the liver last a long time (years), so if you’ve recently become vegan a blood test might show that you have adequate levels of B12, but you will eventually run low. There aren’t any good vegan sources of B12, so it would probably be best to take a B12 supplement. The best type of B12 is methylcobalamin (try and avoid cyanocobalamin).
Vitamin D – the best way to get this is to spend a little bit of time in the sun every day. If you are fair skinned 15 minutes a day in the sun is enough (with your arms and legs exposed). This also depends on which part of the world you live in – above certain latitudes your skin can only make vitamin D in the summer months. (People who live in the Arctic regions get around this because of their high intake of fish, seal, whale fat and liver, all of which have high levels of vitamin D).
Kelp is a good source of zinc and other minerals.
Wakame Seaweed is the only good vegan source of long chain omega-3 fatty acids that I could find. (This fatty acid is crucial for brain development in babies – it is very difficult for vegan babies to get adequate long chain omega-3 fatty acids). And high levels of long chain Omega-3 are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in adults – another good reason to up your intake.
As far as protein goes, a combination of lentils with rice provides all the essential and non-essential proteins for vegans. It’s best to cook lentils in a pressure cooker because this reduces their ‘lectin’ content.
Here’s a link explaining what lectins are.
Small amounts of Macadamia nuts are a healthy snack – out of all the nuts they have the best omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
Try and use macadamia or avocado oil for cooking instead of other vegetable oils.
And finally try and increase your intake of green vegetables, and reduce your intake of sugar and wheat.
I hope this helps!
That’s helpful – thank you-I’m going to print out your 20 health related facts as a daily reminder!
A few more questions?
With fact number 15-did you mean grain fed or grass fed? The big supermarkets have now grass fed meat as a choice so we have made the change.
How can you tell if butter is made from grass fed animals- ? I get organic new zealand butter.
Is there an advantage in using Ghee over butter?
Do you know if chicken liver or Miso as in miso soup has Vit K2?
Also what do you know about at what age our children might benefit from these changes when there are very few studies done on children- are there observational studies on children from different cultures?
It’s nice to know that people are following my advice!
I meant to say grass-fed in Fact number 15 (Unprocessed red meat from grain-fed animals is not bad for you).
I think I need an editor to proof read my posts…
Although it is also true that unprocessed red meat from grain-fed animals is unlikely to be harmful because studies comparing total mortality rates in people who consume either processed or unprocessed meat have shown that only the processed red meat consumers have a higher mortality risk.
As far as butter is concerned, if you want to be sure that it is from grass-fed cows then have a look at the website of the company from which you buy the butter – if it is grass-fed they usually say so on their website. In all likelihood most meat or dairy products from New Zealand are from grass-fed animals because they have so much pastureland there, but I don’t know for sure.
The main advantage of ghee over butter is that it has a higher ‘smoke point’ which makes it better for cooking because it is less likely to burn.
When oil or butter are heated to the point when they start smoking, their chemical composition changes and you get all sorts of nasty toxic substances forming (including free radicals and AGEs – Advanced Glycation End products. AGEs are formed when food ‘browns’ – it’s called the Maillard reaction; this usually enhances the taste of food – as in grilling on a barbecue or caramelising sugar, but too much of it is harmful).
The other advantages of ghee over butter are:
1) The more favourable omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in ghee.
2) Ghee doesn’t have any of the milk proteins in it (it is probably the milk proteins which are one of the harmful parts of dairy products).
I know that it’s not very scientific to quote isolated cases, but my grandmother grew up on ghee and lived to the ripe old age of 105. However in those days they must have used ghee very sparingly because it would have been either home made or expensive to buy.
Ghee was probably also the only cooking oil they used; I would imagine that mass produced refined oils didn’t exist at the turn of the last century in India (my grandmother was born in 1901).
The French used to have a very low cardiovascular risk and they also used to use clarified butter (=ghee) to cook their food.
Here’s a good link explaining why refined vegetable oils are bad.
And to answer the vitamin K2 question – chicken liver is supposed to be a good source of K2.
I couldn’t find the exact amount of K2 in miso soup, but miso soup isn’t on any of the lists of good sources of K2, so I presume it doesn’t have much.
The risks of atherosclerosis, diabetes, dementia and most Western diseases depend on the habits of a lifetime, so the earlier you start eating healthily the better.
One study comparing the effects of milk protein and meat protein on 8 year olds found that the fasting insulin levels in the milk-fed group doubled after only 1 week, whereas the insulin levels of the meat-fed group were unchanged.
(In this study 24 boys were given an extra 53g of either milk protein or meat protein every day for a week).
I’ll have a look for other studies on children and get back to you – in the meantime my advice would be to start young with dietary changes!
Are K2 supplements good enough and what dose do you recommend?
Also its very hard for me to give up desserts- with your cooking background- could you come up with some sweet recipes using glucose please
As a rule I don’t like advertising and I don’t like taking supplements, but the K2 that I’ve bought is this one:
It’s made from natto extract and you’re supposed to take one a day, but I give my children one a week because it’s hard to know what the exact dose should be as there’s so little information on K2, and most of the research on it is relatively new.
Most of the studies on K2 use MK-7 (menaquinone 7) in a range of between 100 and 200 micrograms per day.
Personally I try to eat either natto, kim chi or sauerkraut. Sadly I haven’t managed to persuade my boys to eat any of them yet!
A study on postmenopausal women showed that supplementing with 180 micrograms of MK-7 daily for 3 years prevented bone loss.
Also if you are on warfarin you have to be careful with K2 supplements (re-check your INR as the K2 does affect it).
As far as sugar is concerned, I substitute glucose powder for ‘sugar’ in dessert recipes with about 30% extra glucose compared to the original sugar quantity. It works well in my brownies recipe, banana muffins and carrot cake. I’m not sure how well it would work in recipes where the sugar is used to make a light sponge.
But remember that glucose powder isn’t healthy; it’s a bit less unhealthy than normal sugar (sucrose).
Three different people told me about the 5:2 diet today (maybe they are trying to hint at something). I’m thinking of trying it from next week and if it works for me I’ll stick to it.
Just a few questions…
Don’t laugh at the first one, but can you drink (one glass of) wine on a fasting day with your meal?
Secondly, how does fasting impact exercise? I presume most people feel a bit more tired and lethargic than usual on fasting days.
Finally, what happens when you go on holiday? Can you juggle fasting days round or does that impact the health benefits?
Fasting seems to be all the rage at the moment. All of the feedback that I’ve had in the first 24 hours of going live has been about fasting.
Most of the scientific research on fasting involves abstaining from all calories for a minimum of 18 hours, so you are allowed to drink water; black coffee and tea have so few calories that they don’t affect the physiological benefits of fasting.
What you consume when you break your fast seems to be irrelevant; the real benefits of fasting are obtained during the period of abstinence, so yes, wine is allowed when you break your fast.
My brand of fasting and most of the experiments on fasting don’t involve calorie counting – I personally just eat until I feel full when I break my fast, and I try not to over-compensate by gorging on non-fasting days.
As far as exercise is concerned, most of the research has been done on people during Ramadan. For non-competitive sports Ramadan style fasting doesn’t seem to make a significant difference to performance, but there haven’t been any studies on professional athletes and fasting to date.
A few studies on rats and fasting show that occasional mild stresses such as fasting can prevent or reverse ageing (‘hormetic changes’ is the scientific term).
Some people find lethargy and feeling cold big downsides to fasting. I certainly wouldn’t recommend marathon training and fasting at the same time.
It’s entirely a personal choice how often you fast. Doing it regularly but then occasionally lapsing whilst on holiday is definitely better than not fasting at all.
Looking forward to hearing how you get on with fasting.
Submitted 06/06 2014
I’m going to try the 5:2 diet , I’m already at 2 meals a day because of my Hiatal H ., my second meal is ‘Lunner’ between Lunch and Dinner.
Question: So, is fresh fruit juice construed as a Meal or beverage?
I make my own blend of fruits for juices, which is quite filling.
Fruit juice can have a considerable amount of calories, so strictly speaking you would be breaking your fast if you were to have it on a fasting day (although I know that in Hindu religious fasts fruit is allowed).
As we’re on the subject of fruit, it is much better to eat the whole fruit rather than having a juice or smoothie for the following reasons:
When making fruit smoothies, the blender blades destroy the insoluble fibre in fruit.
And fruit juices have neither soluble nor insoluble fibre – the physiological effect of drinking fruit juice is similar to having any sweet drink – your body gets a rapid rush of sugar without fibre (the fibre in whole fruit normally slows down the absorption of sugar so you don’t get that same ‘hit’ which is one of the main problems with all concentrated forms of sugar in food or drinks).
More to follow on the perils of juices in the ‘fructose’ post.
Sorry to be a killjoy about fruit juices and smoothies…
2 meals a day seems to be generally a good idea – I presume you had a look at the post about it?
Good luck with the 5:2 diet!
I have read some of your articles, they are very informative.
I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me?
How much grass fed meat would you need to take to get adequate amounts of K2.
What other types of cheeses aside from Gouda have a high K 2
Is goat cheese healthier than cheese made from cows?
Can you measure your K2 level?
I dont like fermented foods.