The vitamin K you’re probably most familiar with is vitamin K1. Both vitamins K1 and K2 are important in overall bone and cardiovascular health, but the benefits of Vitamin K2 make it the better of the two nutrients. K2 remains in the bloodstream longer, and is better at promoting a healthy cardiovascular system by way of its ability to optimize calcium utilization.
Vitamin K1 can be found in green, leafy foods like kale, spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Conversely, Vitamin K2 is less abundant in foods. While it can be found in several hard, European-type cheeses, the highest concentration of Vitamin K2 and its benefits is found in the Japanese food called natto.
Eat Natto for Vitamin K2 Benefits
Natto is made from soybeans that have been fermented by Natto bacillus. Natto itself has several touted health benefits, including the following:
Being a good source of protein and Vitamin B2 for younger looking skin
Containing a fibrinolytic enzyme called nattokinase, which is reported to reduce/prevent blood clots.
The nattokinase is why some people eat it for both heart attack and stroke prevention. Specifically, nattokinase has natural anticoagulant properties, as well as the ability to lower blood pressure levels.
It can take a while to acquire a taste for natto, a staple in the traditional Japanese breakfast, because it has a somewhat sour and pungent aroma. On the plus side, it also has a favorable nutty quality.
Dr. Sinatra recommends eating the real thing two to three times a week for the Vitamin K2 benefits, which is no problem if you eat a traditional Japanese diet. But for the rest of us, making it palatable can be a challenge. Luckily, we have a tasty recipe for natto that I’ll be sharing with you in an upcoming blog!
Frozen natto can be found in Asian grocery stores, and frozen pouches of it can be sourced now in many health-food stores. In case neither is local for you, you can try an online Japanese food market that ships natto and all kinds of great Japanese foods. Though I didn’t see them listed, I have read comments online that high fructose corn syrup and MSG appear on the label, but those ingredients are stated elsewhere in the seasoning packets, which you can just discard.
If you just cannot stomach natto, you can still reap the benefits of Vitamin K2 and nattokinase in supplement form. For Vitamin K2, I suggest you purchase MK-7 or menaquinone-7, which is a form of Vitamin K2. You can find both MK-7 and nattokinase at most health-food stores or online.
A word of CAUTION for any of you who take any blood-thinning medication such as Coumadin, Heparin, or even Lovonox. If you do, then don’t use any supplemental form of Vitamin K or nattokinase, as it may seriously interfere with the effect of your medications.
For more great cardiovascular nutrition tips, visit Dr. Sinatra’s Web site.