Food sources of vitamin K2



Vitamin K2 is emerging as an exciting player in the control and possible regression of coronary atherosclerotic plaque. Only about 10% of dietary vitamin K intake is in the K2 form, the other 90% being the more common K1.

The ideal source of K2 is natto, the unpalatable, gooey, slimy mass of fermented soybeans that Japanese eat and has been held responsible for substantial decreases in osteoporosis and bone fractures of aging. Natto has an ammonia-like bouquet, in addition to its phlegmy consistency that makes it virtually inedible to anyone but native Japanese.

I say that the conversation on vitamin K2 is emerging because of a number of uncertainties: What form of vitamin K2 is best (so-called MK-4 vs. MK7 vs. MK-9, all of which vary in structure and duration of action in human blood)? What dose is required for bone benefits vs. other benefits outside of bone health? Why would humans have developed a need for a nutrient that is created through fermentation with only small quantities in meats and other non-fermented foods?

Much of the developing research on vit K2 is coming from the laboratories of Drs. Vermeer, Geleijnse, and Schurgers at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, along with several laboratories in Japan, the champions of K2.

MK-7 and MK-8,9,10 come from bacterial fermentation, whether in natto, cheese, or in your intestinal tract; MK-4 is naturally synthesized by animals from vitamin K1. While natto is the richest source of the MK-7 form, egg yolks and fermented cheeses are the richest sources of the MK-4 form.

Chicken contains about 8 mcg MK-4 per 3 1/2 oz serving; beef contains about 1 mcg. Egg yolks contain 31 mcg MK-4 per 3 1/2 oz serving (app. 6 raw yolks). Hard cheeses contain about 5 mcg MK-4 per 3 1/2 oz serving, about 70 mcg of MK-8,9; soft cheeses contain about 30% less. Natto contains about 1000 mcg of MK-7, 84 mcg MK-8, and no MK-4 per 3 1/2 oz serving.











Feta cheese

Thanks to the research efforts of the Dutch and Japanese groups, several phenomena surrounding vitamin K2 are clear, even well-established fact:

--Vitamin K2 supplementation (via frequent natto consumption or pharmaceutical doses of K2) substantially improves bone health. While K2 by itself exerts significant bone density/strength increasing properties in dozens of studies, when combined with other bone health-promoting agents (e.g., vitamin D3, prescription drugs like Fosamax and calcitonin), an exaggerated synergy of bone health-promoting effects develop.



--The MK-4 form of vitamin K2 is short-lived, lasting only 3-4 hours in the body. The MK-7 form, in contrast, the form in natto, lasts several days. MK-7 and MK-8-10 are extremely well absorbed, virtually complete.

--Bone health benefits have been shown for both the MK-7 and MK-4 forms.

--Coumadin (warfarin) blocks all forms of vitamin K.





Interestingly, farm-raised meats and eggs do not differ from factory farm-raised foods in K2 content. (But please do not regard this as an endorsement of factory farm foods.)

Another interesting fact: Since mammals synthesize a small quantity of Vit K2 forms from vitamin K1, then eating lots of green vegetables should provide substrate for some quantity of K2 conversion. However, work by Schurgers et al have shown that K1 absorption is poor, no more than 10%, but increases significantly when vegetables are eaten in the presence of oils. (Thus arguing that oils are meant to be part of the human diet. Does your olive oil or oil-based salad dressing represent fulfillment of some subconscious biologic imperative?)

If we believe the data of the Rotterdam Heart Study, then a threshold of 32.7 micrograms of K2 from cheese yields the reduction in cardiovascular events and aortic calcification.

It's all very, very interesting. My prediction is that abnormal (pathologic) calcium deposition will prove to be a basic process that parallels atherosclerotic plaque growth, and that manipulation of phenomena that impact on calcium depostion also impact on atherosclerotic plaque growth. Vitamins D3 and K2 provide potential potent means of at least partially normalizing these processes.

As the data matures, I am going to enjoy my gouda, Emmenthaler, Gruyere, and feta cheeses, along with a few egg yolks. I'm going to be certain to include healthy oils like olive and canola with my vegetables.


All images courtesy Wikipedia.

Copyright 2007 William Davis, MD

Comments (46) -

  • MAC

    12/28/2007 5:58:00 PM |

    Is not magnesium also a regulator of calcium?

    NIH link on magnesium: http://www.ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/magnesium.asp
    though they really don't spell out magnesium's role in regulating calcium, just that it "keeps bones strong".

    Dr. Eades blog on magnesium and it's deficiency and role in inflammation: http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/uncategorized/magnesium-and-inflammation/

    BTW Dr. Davis, Dr. Eades recently posted a comment on your TYP book as the best source regarding CT heart scans.

  • Anonymous

    12/28/2007 7:05:00 PM |

    Fascinating! Perhaps K2 is one factor that contributes to the so-called French paradox. It might make sense to eat imported cheeses produced by traditional methods in European countries that have the lowest rates of CHD -- France, Portugal, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.

    In addition to vitamin K, many other fat-soluble nutrients (lycopenes, carotenoids, etc.) in plant foods simply aren't absorbed unless accompanied by fat, which, ironically, renders those "healthy" fat free salad spritzes downright hazardous to health.

  • Anonymous

    12/28/2007 7:33:00 PM |

    Great blog, enjoyed reading about vitamin K2.  

    With recent findings on the importance of bone strengthening supplements and drugs for heart health, would weight lifting be helpful at bringing about plaque regression?

  • Carl H

    12/28/2007 8:14:00 PM |

    What about Miso?  Another fermented soy product.  Not bad + not natto.

  • Dr. Davis

    12/28/2007 11:06:00 PM |

    Hi, Mac--

    Yes, magnesium is among the three nutrients that I fuss about for bone and arterial health, along with K2 and D3.

    Thanks for the heads up on Dr. Eades blog. I've only recently stumbled across his Blog and found it wonderful, full of unique and refreshingly candid comments.

  • Dr. Davis

    12/28/2007 11:07:00 PM |

    No, not specifically. K2 improves bone health and possibly arterial health. Weight lifting improves bone health. But that's as far as the intersection goes.

  • Dr. Davis

    12/28/2007 11:08:00 PM |

    I love miso and was raised on it. But to my knowledge it is not a significant source of K2.

  • Cindy Moore

    12/29/2007 8:29:00 AM |

    "--Coumadin (warfarin) blocks all forms of vitamin K."

    Do you know if there is any evidence that long term (20 yrs+) warfarin use may increase risk?

  • Anonymous

    12/29/2007 8:58:00 AM |

    My research shows that CoQ10 has a structure very similiar to vitamin K.  Perhaps supplementation with CoQ10 may help provide Vitamin K2.

  • Dr. Davis

    12/29/2007 1:21:00 PM |

    Yes. Unfortunately, now several studies have shown that there is greater heart valve and artery calcification with prolonged Coumadin usage. Although the data are very preliminary, there may be benefit to K1 and K2 supplementation, though your doctor's cooperation is required to do this.

  • Harry35

    12/30/2007 1:38:00 AM |

    Here's a list of fermented and unfermented cheeses that I compiled by googling around. Not sure how to tell which of the fermented cheeses have the most K2, though.

    Fermented:

    Aged goat cheese
    Bleu Cheese
    Brie
    Cambozola
    Camebert
    Cantal
    Cheddar
    Cheshire
    Cultured dry cottage cheese
    Edam
    Emmenthal
    Feta
    Gorgonzola
    Gouda
    Gruyere
    Muenster
    Parmesan
    Port du Salut
    Roquefort
    Romano
    Stilton

    Unfermented

    Farmer cheese
    Mescarpone
    Most cottage cheese
    Mozzarella
    Pot cheese
    Processed cheese
    Provolone
    Provatura
    Quark
    Ricotta
    Scamorza

  • Dr. Davis

    12/30/2007 2:07:00 PM |

    Wow! Thanks, Harry.

    I didn't realize that provolone and ricotta were unfermented.

  • chickadeenorth

    12/30/2007 4:37:00 PM |

    Wow great info and timely article...thnx.
    I eat those fermented cheeses that  and have eggs, I use only olive oil though. I read somewhere that any oil that gets sticky on outside of the jug gets sticky inside the body and since canola is one of those I quit using it, wish I could find that article, ( Eades maybe?)what do you folks think.
    So having some oil on veg and salad is great, I don't use those low fat or spritz things are they seem too processed and full of chemicals.

    Thnx Dr D for the excellent info as always.

    So do you eat those slimy soybeans, are they pretty icky or do you think a person could get used to them. Lots of my Japanese guests ( from Japan not North America) bring some of their own food and I have seen these before. Looks kind of like eatin the foods off Fear Factor....j/k.

  • MAC

    12/30/2007 4:48:00 PM |

    Seem to remember reading somewhere recently that if the cheese has the word "culture" in the ingredient list then it is a fermented product. This could mean yogurt and kefir may have K2. Web sources seem to indicate this but didn't find any I consider reliable.

  • Dr. Davis

    12/30/2007 10:54:00 PM |

    I don't think that there's anything wrong with actually eating natto. It's just that it is quite difficult to stomach. I had it several times as a kid and found it thoroughly unappetizing, despite having tried some really exotic stuff like raw octopus and seaweed. Natto was the one thing I simply could not eat.

    The stick oil thing has me stumped. Our bodies digest foods like oil before they make it into the blood stream. Why its behavior in a bottle would have any bearing on its behavior in the body is beyond me.

  • Cindy Moore

    12/31/2007 12:08:00 AM |

    Mary Enig is an excellent source of information about oils. Her general belief is that processed oils (like corn, cannola and soy) are heat treated during the processing and this heat damages the fat molecules, so these fats are essentially spoiled when they are bottled. These oils are also polyunsaturates, which are the least stable of oils, so they should be stored properly and protected from heat, light, etc. (Flax and fish oils are "good" polys, but care should be used to keep these fresh and prevent oxidation)

    I only use virgin olive oil, virgin cocount oil and butter, and I rarely (if ever) use olive for cooking. (I want to try the nut oils, but haven't given them a shot yet).

  • chickadeenorth

    12/31/2007 8:20:00 AM |

    Cindy why don't you use olive oil to cook in at low heat,curious, I thought that was ok if it didnt get too hot. I just got some walnut and almond oil and have to try them.I also use coconut oil to cook in and grapeseed for salads.

    I cannot get vit k 2 in Ca and have a friend going to Florida in 2 days who will buy me some, what is a good name brand and dose,  also a good name brand and dose for DHEA thanks for feedback.

  • Cindy Moore

    12/31/2007 5:51:00 PM |

    chickadeenorth, I don't often us olive in cooking because I've read (Enig I believe) that if it smokes it shouldn't be eaten....and I've had too many instances of the heat getting ahead of me and the oil ending up burned. I just find it easier to use coconut....and then I add butter and/or olive oil at the end to give it flavor, if needed. Mostly I just use the coconut oil.

    I use Source Naturals K, but am also interested in hearing some recommendations. I bought this because I'm told Source Naturals is a good company.

  • Dr. Davis

    12/31/2007 6:10:00 PM |

    We've used Source Naturals, Life Extension, and Jarrow. All seem like the real thing.

  • chickadeenorth

    12/31/2007 8:40:00 PM |

    ..thnx...is this in dry tablet form, what dose of tablet should I get her to pick up, what about DHEA?? name brand and dose.

    Ya I cook with natural gas so keep flame very low and don't over heat anything,I don't use allot as have good pots, maybe should use coconut more often, its adds a nice flavor especially to chicken and pork.

    I think some guests from Japan bought some of those soybeans once in a can, is that how they come, they ate something that looked familiar to your picture.

  • g

    1/1/2008 6:35:00 AM |

    Apparently the ADA have new guidelines coming soon!  AND guess what they advise now!  LOW CARB diets!!

    This is funny...
    http://thefitnessinsider.menshealth.com/2007/12/apparently-hell.html

  • chickadeenorth

    1/1/2008 5:13:00 PM |

    Hmm wonder what pushed their buttons, the powers at be in USA are also supposedly going to recommend a higher dose of Vit D too.
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/1/1/experts-starting-to-agree-more-vitamin-d-is-better.aspx

  • brassman

    1/1/2008 6:04:00 PM |

    Vitamin K is fat soluble. Will a tablet be absorbed well or do I need a soft gel as with vitamin d?

  • chickadeenorth

    1/1/2008 9:06:00 PM |

    Is this the right DHEA I am looking for, if so I found a source in Canada but still no Vit k 2.Sorry I can't log onto the forum.Smile

    http://www.nutrichem.com/Phosphatidyl-Serine-Complex-23.html

  • Dr. Davis

    1/2/2008 12:10:00 PM |

    The label and info says phosphatidylserine, not DHEA.

  • Dr. Davis

    1/2/2008 12:11:00 PM |

    The data would suggest that, unlike vitamin D, even tablets of K2 are well absorbed.

  • Anonymous

    1/31/2008 1:02:00 AM |

    Hello Dr. Davis,
    Thank you for this great post. We've recently learned that K2 was probably what Weston Price had  called Activator-X, since he had not been in contact with other researchers who were learning about vitamin K at the time.

    Anyway, I can help with the "sticky oil" comment. Oils that oxidize easily become sticky (basically like varnish drying) when exposed to oxygen. This means that canola oil and other less-saturated fatty acids can oxidize (producing free radicals) in the bottle (and MAYBE in the blood - there is oxygen in the blood, but I'm not an expert in blood chemistry). We don't know how long the oil was exposed to air before it was bottled. X-virgin olive oil, on the other hand, has a lot of anti-oxidants built in (and numerous phyto-nutrients), so probably has a longer shelf life. Most Canola oil is a highly processed modern hybrid. The Mediterranean people never lived on Canola oil. The fact that both are monounsaturated is largely irrelevant.  -David

  • Dr. Davis

    1/31/2008 1:33:00 PM |

    Thanks for the help, David.

  • donny

    7/1/2008 6:23:00 PM |

    I hate to comment on an article this old, but I've been reading a lot of stuff online about vitamin k lately. I found this article recently. Really, it looks like an attempt to denigrate food sources of vitamin k in comparison to supplementation.
    First they compared spinach consumption to a vitamin k supplement called konakion, and showed that konakion raised serum levels of k1 maybe seven to eight times as much as 227 grams of boiled spinach with butter. Then, they did a bait and switch, comparing the spinach and butter to a milligram of k2 mixed with 5 grams of butter, and they have a chart with that showing that the k2 with butter raised serum levels of k2 twice as much as the spinach with twenty five grams of butter.
    I'm just wondering if green vegetables, with butter, might be a good way to raise k2 levels after all?

    http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FBJN%2FBJN76_02%2FS0007114596001304a.pdf&code=2e2d0ca6a4129581d36eebf438633b36

  • Anonymous

    12/2/2008 3:05:00 PM |

    "Why would humans have developed a need for a nutrient that is created through fermentation with only small quantities in meats and other non-fermented foods?"

    Perhaps this is an example of how our "sterile" environment is killing us.  Before refrigeration, I am sure humans were subject to much more fermented food.

  • Dane Miller

    4/20/2009 5:58:00 PM |

    I , too hate commenting on an article so old.  Great stuff but canola as a healthy oil?  I think not.  Canola is terrible for you.  Or should I said rapeseed oil.

  • jpatti

    5/25/2009 1:05:39 AM |

    I understand there's a good bit of K2 in unpasteurized milk.  Apparently, grass-fed animals do produce a lot of A, D and K2, but much is destroyed through pasteurization.

    I've recently added raw milk to my diet.  Decided it was worth taking extra insulin for the health benefits.  Can't get raw butter or cream in my state, but am getting it from the same dairy, so it's grass-fed if not raw.

    My bp has dropped about 30/30 without the Lisinopril I was on before.  As hubby says, if it's placebo, it's one worth sticking to.  ;)

    Besides raw milk, I've also about tripled my intake of butter and eggs.  

    And btw, fermenting raw milk yourself is wicked easy.  Take a quart of milk, heat it to around 100-110 degrees (I do this with a quart jar in my crockpot in an inch of water with the lid off).  Remove about a half cup of warmed milk and stir in about 1/4 cup yogurt.  Pour this back into the main container, turn off the crockpot (so it doesn't overheat and kill the culture), and cover with a blanket or such to insulate it.  

    I do this while fixing dinner, in the morning I have yogurt - fermented raw milk, yummy stuff, chockful of K2.  It's not thick like store-bought, more like a drink.  I add blueberries to it most often.

    The point is, with a source of raw milk it takes about 5-10 minutes of "work" to make your own fermented dairy.  You need a quart sized jar, a source of heat, a thermometer, some insulation and some culture (store-bought plain yogurt works fine) - fermented dairy just happens overnight.

  • robbyn

    9/27/2009 9:44:19 AM |

    I know that sauerkraut contains vit k2, but do not know how much per 100g. Has anyone been able to find the figures?

  • Anonymous

    1/5/2010 5:13:32 PM |

    Dear Dr. Davis
    Hello
    Is there a special food diet for patients with aortic valve calcification. How many milligrams
    of vitamin CaLaughing:K2:K:Mg, are recommended for patients.
    Thanks
    Lev

  • Sharon

    2/17/2010 6:56:22 AM |

    Serious question Dr.Davis:    Fibrinogen can create calcification, K2 reduces calcification, natto reduces fibrinogen but is there any clottin risk and conflict in using both agents for a patient with the two dysfunctions?

    Thank you Sharon

  • Anonymous

    3/15/2010 8:46:14 PM |

    Recently had a CT.  After the CT, got up off table and had no pain for 2 weeks.  In constant pain due to significant cervical and lumbar radiculopathy, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, etc.  Has anyone ever had a CT with contrast who was in pain and pain gone after the contrast CT?  My doctor told me to blog to see if could find others who drank a liquid and had an IV during the CT.  Was wonderful to have no pain for 2 weeks, and interesting it happened immediately upon rising from the table where the CT was performed.  Anyone exeriencing this, please blog

  • ea

    3/25/2010 1:35:56 AM |

    In http://www.westonaprice.org/On-the-Trail-of-the-Elusive-X-Factor-A-Sixty-Two-Year-Old-Mystery-Finally-Solved.html it says:
    Since the amount of vitamin K1 in typical diets is ten times greater than that of vitamin K2, researchers have tended to dismiss the contribution of K2 to nutritional status as insignificant. Yet over the last few years, a growing body of research is demonstrating that these two substances are not simply different forms of the same vitamin, but are better seen as two different vitamins: whereas K1 is preferentially used by the liver to activate blood clotting proteins, K2 is preferentially used by the other tissues to place calcium where it belongs, in the bones and teeth, and keep it out of where it does not belong, in the soft tissues.
    In other words, to properly use the Calcium in your diet, you need vitamin K2 (as well as A & D) ~ and, since K2 is fat soluble, also fat so that you can absorb the K2.  With K2 the Calcium will be used to strengthen bones and teeth. Without K2 the Calcium will be deposited in joints leading to osteoarthritis, in blood vessels leading to heart attacks and strokes, in eyes leading to cataracts, and in other soft tissues.

    In http://www.westonaprice.org/On-the-Trail-of-the-Elusive-X-Factor-A-Sixty-Two-Year-Old-Mystery-Finally-Solved.html there is also a table of K2 content of various foods.

  • bed frame

    7/6/2010 7:09:17 AM |

    Before I don't know what is vitamin K2 is. But after reading and analyzing your post. Now I know that it is important. I thank you for sharing this very helpful post.

  • Yogi Sinzapatos

    7/29/2010 3:50:33 PM |

    Mixing jpatti's home made raw milk yogurt with flaxseed oil = Dr. Johanna Budwig's cure for cancer (and many other diseases).

  • dermatology laser

    9/30/2010 3:23:32 AM |

    Vitamin K2 might be, for instance more relevant in the form of a supplement or in low-fat dairy.

  • Chuck

    10/21/2010 3:38:37 AM |

    As far as Warfarin blocking the absorption of vitamin K, I am not a big fan of people taking rat poison. Warfarin is the active ingredient in rat poison.

    It is worse than the urine of a pregnant horse. Premarin-- pregnant mare urine. I am American and natto does not taste that bad. Of course it is better to add it to something else. For example no one eats sugar by itself.

    Now raw garlic by itself is painful to eat. But I add it to other foods and it is OK. Raw ginger by itself is also painful to eat.

  • buy jeans

    11/3/2010 4:53:24 PM |

    MK-7 and MK-8,9,10 come from bacterial fermentation, whether in natto, cheese, or in your intestinal tract; MK-4 is naturally synthesized by animals from vitamin K1. While natto is the richest source of the MK-7 form, egg yolks and fermented cheeses are the richest sources of the MK-4 form.

  • Heidi

    11/11/2010 5:34:36 PM |

    Earlier in the thread there was mention made on canola oil. Here's a link that explains the dangers:
    http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/559-the-great-con-ola.html

  • Jack C

    11/18/2010 3:03:20 AM |

    Somewhere in my files there is a study, from Japan I believe, that found that serum concentrations of MK4 increased after consumption of natto, which contains no MK4. It therefore appears that MK7, 8 and 9 will convert, to some degree, to MK4. Conclusion (mine): Aged cheese can provide all of the vitamin K2 needed. Aged raw milk cheese has most of the benefits of raw milk but is as pathogen free as pasteurized milk due to destruction of pathogens by low pH during aging.  

    While I can not quickly lay my hands on that study, I have found a couple of other related studies of interest.

    Vitamin K is required for activation of osteocalcin. Vitamin K deficiency is associated with low bone mineral density due to increased levels of uncarboxylated (unactivated) osteocalcin(ucOC). The plasma vitamin K2 concentrations required to minimize ucOC increases with age (PMID 16469998). Conclusion: (mine) Eat more aged raw milk cheese as you age to protect you bones.

    Rats readily convert vitamin K1 to K2 but humans do not.

    "Vascular calcification may be species specific to humans. As laboratory animals, such as the rat, grow old, they suffer from only mild arterial calcification" (PMID 18772323): Conclusion (mine): K2 is the answer: Eat more raw milk aged cheese as you get older to prevent calcification of arteries.

    Jack C.

  • Gillian

    1/17/2011 5:13:44 PM |

    Hi, Dr Davis
    I´ve read in some earlier comment of yours, that natto is not really a reliable source for K2, is that so and if, then why?
    I also wonder why I sometimes feel pain in my legs when eating cream.
    I have seen the famous photographer from Sweden that have filmed arteries and showed that cream supposedly block the arteries..
    What is your opinion??

  • Lobster bake

    2/18/2011 9:17:08 AM |

    Thanks, very well written post, found it through a random Google search and I shared it on my Facebook. This Vitamin K foods are very helpful to keep our body healthy and young.

Loading
Do your part to save on healthcare costs

Do your part to save on healthcare costs

While many of the factors that drive the relentless increase in health care costs are beyond individual control, you are still able to exert personal influence over costs. Just as in political elections, your one vote alone may not count; it's the collective effort of many people who share similar opinions that results in real change.

I just got the new monthly premium for my high-deductible health insurance: Up $300 per month, putting my family's total premium over $2000 per month---for four healthy people. (My son fractured his wrist playing high school hockey earlier this year; that may explain at least some of the increase.)

I'm going to shop around for a better deal. However, shopping is likely to only stall the process. It will not address the systemic problems with healthcare that continue to drive premiums up and up and up.

So what can you do to help keep costs down? Here are a few thoughts:

Never accept a prescription for fish oil, i.e., Lovaza. Just buy far less costly over-the-counter fish oil. I treat complex hyperlipidemias, including familial hypertriglyceridemia, ever day. I NEVER use prescription fish oil. A typical 4 capsule per day Lovaza prescription adds around $280 to $520 per month to overall health costs (though your direct out-of-pocket costs may be less, since you shove the costs onto others in your plan).

Never accept a prescription for vitamin D. Prescription vitamin D is the mushroom or invertebrate form anyway. Just buy the human (cholecalciferol, D3) form from your health food store or "big box" store. They yield consistent increases in 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels, superior to the prescription form. And they're wonderfully inexpensive.

Eliminate wheat from your diet. If there is a dietary strategy that yields unexpected and outsized benefits across a wide spectrum of health, it's elimination of this thing we're sold called "wheat," you know, the genetically-transformed, high-yield dwarf mutant that now represents 99% of all wheat sold. Blood sugar drops, pre-diabetics become non-prediabetics, diabetics reduce need for medication or become non-diabetic, cholesterol values plummet, arthritis improves, acid reflux and irritable bowel symptoms improve or disappear, just to mention a few. Wheat elimination alone, I believe, would result in incalculable savings in both healthcare costs and lives saved.

Be sure to obtain iodine. In the fuss to cut salt use, everyone forgot about iodine. Lack of iodine leads to thyroid disease, usually hypothyroidism, that, in turn, causes cholesterol values to increase, weight to increase, and heart disease risk to double, triple, or quadruple. Iodine supplementation is easy and wonderfully inexpensive.

Over time, I hope that all of us can help develop the effort to self-direct more and more of our own health. Our Track Your Plaque program has shown me that, not only can people take the initiative to direct aspects of their own health, they can do it better than 99% of doctors.  

I'm sure there are many, many other ways to help reduce costs. Any suggestions?

Comments (37) -

  • Chuck

    12/13/2010 4:07:49 AM |

    don't rush to the doctor for every sniffle, sneeze, bump or bruise.  too many see their doctors way too often.  also, don't rush to the ER everytime your kid cries for more than 60 seconds.

    get a plan that has a health savings account.  these typically have a very high deductible ($250 per individual) and cover one check up per year.  a lot of health care costs end up being out of pocket.  makes you think twice about frivolous health care expenditures.  also causes you to want to be a healthier person.

  • Patty

    12/13/2010 4:14:31 AM |

    Our premium for our the highest deductible option we could get health insurance, for 2 adults, went up $500. And neither of us have had any medical procedures, we take no prescriptions, and never even entered a doctor's office last year.  At some point, it's no longer insurance...it's highway robbery.  

    And we eliminated all grains from our diet earlier this year, so hopefully we will go another year without needing a doctor.  Really makes it hard to keeping paying that premium...

  • Ailu

    12/13/2010 4:57:49 AM |

    You are so right... it's crazy.  Our insurance premiums got so high we couldn't pay our other bills.. our deductible was $9800.  Add to that our regular Dr. bills and it was insane.  

    The clincher was when the naturalist lady down the street was dying of malignant melanoma. It had reached her lymph nodes.  Her family told me the drs insisted on operating to take them out, plus chemo.  But what does this crazy lady do?  She says "no way, I'm gonna go the natural route".  I mean, this lady is DYING.  She even smells like death.  Three weeks later I see her at the grocery store, and she looks like she just came from the gym.  "My goodness, you look so much better! What have you been doing?" She says "Oh, eating a lot of greens, I am so sick of greens! But it's keeping my PH between 7.2 & 7.4.  My naturopath said hardly no one dies of cancer, they just die of acidosis." It's now 3 months later, and the woman is running around like a teenager.  

    Well this was always my great fear. Cancer - w/o insurance. So now, I ask myself, why the heck am I going broke trying to pay for this insurance?  Stick a fork in me, I'm done. Feed me some greens.

  • terrence

    12/13/2010 5:01:06 AM |

    Come you guys, Saint Obama FIXED the American Health Care System. Didn't he... He really did, didn't he - he SAID he would...

  • Anonymous

    12/13/2010 6:37:50 AM |

    Dr. Davis, you forgot to mention that another big saver is never to buy prescription Niaspan, but instead buy over the counter Slo-Niacin or Endur-acin.

    One other big money saver is to invest in a pill cutter as most drugs cost the same for all dosage options. Have your Doc double your dosage and then just cut the pills in half and save 50% right off the bat.

  • Hans Keer

    12/13/2010 7:20:55 AM |

    I would say, start living a low-carb paleo lifestyle and you won't need supplementation and medical care (except from healing that wrist Smile ) at all. How do you do this? http://www.cutthecarb.com/getting-started/

  • Anne

    12/13/2010 8:41:56 AM |

    I really enjoy this blog and have got a lot of useful information from it over the years. But goodness, I know for sure that America is a dreadful place to live for health care ! I feel much safer in the United Kingdom where I know I get an excellent service from the National Health Service.

    Also, vitamin D3, oil based cholecalciferol, has recently become available here on prescription. It's a German manufacture called Dekristol and is good value - 50 capsules of 20,000 IU each costs about £20 to the NHS (l£7.20 directly to the patient). That's cheaper than any health food shop over here !

  • Dr. William Davis

    12/13/2010 1:01:20 PM |

    Yes, no Niaspan! That one completely slipped my mind.

    I used to be the largest prescriber of Niaspan in Wisconsin. Now I use Sloniacin or Enduracin exclusively. Compared to about $150-$170 per month for two tablets of Niaspan, the equivalent quantity of Sloniacin or Enduracin costs around $8.

    Thanks for reminding me, Anon.

  • Dr. William Davis

    12/13/2010 1:03:16 PM |

    Hi, Chuck-- Yes, indeed. In fact, that is probably what I am going to do personally.


    Hi, Patty--I've had that same impulse. Unfortunately, one hospitalization is enough to bankrupt most people, or at least strip you of all your savings and retirement money. That's yet another part of the story.

  • Roger

    12/13/2010 1:21:26 PM |

    I won't go to doctors that overcharge the insurance company. I changed plans and needed a refill of Flonase, which my previous doctor prescribed for hay fever. My new doctor wouldn't write the prescription unless I came in for an office visit, for which he billed the insursance company $500. He used the time to pitch his surgery services, saying if I was ever in the hospital and needed surgery, I could request him. I signed up for a different doctor.

  • Chuck

    12/13/2010 1:24:29 PM |

    i apologize if i mislead anyone.  our deductible is $2500 per indvidual not $250.  our family of 4 max is $3500.  once we reach that for the year for everyone, we have no more out of pocket.  the most we have spent out of pocket in a year (3 years on the plan) is about $500.  we have been fortunate.

  • Chris

    12/13/2010 2:41:23 PM |

    Unfortunately, I train a client whose doc insists he take niaspan and not an over the counter prep, even regular niacin, which I personally take. Even with insurance it still costs him $60.00 a month.

  • Judy B

    12/13/2010 3:18:44 PM |

    My husband and I try to avoid doctors except when it's absolutely necessary! We have found that eating low-carb and supplementing with D3, kelp, etc. that we are rarely ill.

  • Ken

    12/13/2010 3:33:38 PM |

    Dr. Davis
    Great advice! I am a midwestern hospital CEO, we employ about 2000 people. I had meetings recently to discuss next year's health plan changes and told everyone this stunning fact: 1% of our staff account for 35% of our plan expenses!
    I see little evidence of motivation to change behaviors. Like most Americans they are going to come to a doctor like you and want a pill to fix it.
    Keep up the good work

  • Anonymous

    12/13/2010 4:01:12 PM |

    In our company's employee benefits meeting last week, after they announced premium increases one of my buddies blurted out, "Hey, I'm on Obama-care.  Aren't you supposed to be paying me now?"  Pretty funny.

  • Anonymous

    12/13/2010 6:28:42 PM |

    exercise - even walking a few miles a day makes you healthier (1000 steps equals one mile) - eliminate the gym membership and do your own housework, gardening to stretch and strain a little for free

  • donna

    12/13/2010 6:29:00 PM |

    Don't know if this is helpful, but just ran across it:

    http://www.amazon.com/Prescription-Alternatives-Hundreds-Prescription-Free-Remedies/dp/0071600310/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1292264829&sr=8-5

  • Anonymous

    12/13/2010 8:06:12 PM |

    What is the best way to supplement iodine and how much?  Since cutting Mortons for sea salt I am sure I am not getting Iodine (except in occasional shell fish)  Any suggestions?  BTW my T4 Thyroxine was way below the reference range last visit to the DR.

  • Anonymous

    12/13/2010 9:37:43 PM |

    Agree with most of your recommendations, but not sure iodine supplementation is the best idea:
    http://thehealthyskeptic.org/category/health-conditions/thyroid-disorders/page/2
    Amy

  • Lori Miller

    12/14/2010 1:26:54 AM |

    Two words: Google Scholar. A lot of my former health problems were due to lack of vitamins and poor absorption. The medical papers and abstracts there helped me figure out why I wasn't absorbing them and what to do about it. Eliminating grain helps with this--grain is full of anti-nutrients. There have been a lot of other little things I've done to help absorb them.

    As for walking, I suppose 1000 steps equals a mile if you take 5'-3" steps.

  • Anonymous

    12/14/2010 2:01:41 AM |

    Ken says:
    "1% of our staff account for 35% of our plan expenses"
    Is it possible that they are sicker? I mean of no fault of their own making?
    "I see little evidence of motivation to change behaviors. Like most Americans they are going to come to a doctor like you and want a pill to fix it"
    Don't get me started on this one.
    BTW, Ken, what is your salary as a CEO? Isn't it driving the cost of health care?
    Well, Americans who think that universal health care equals "socialism," that history is dead, that "the rich are rich because they deserve to be rich," that an illiterate apparatchik (sorry, manager) can one day be  president of an university and another - CEO of some steel plant and yes, that life is simple and "it's up to you - to be healthy or not among other things" are getting what they  probably deserve. Yes, of course, there countless innocent victims, sadly the most sophisticated and decent.

  • Daniel A. Clinton, RN, BSN

    12/14/2010 5:02:00 AM |

    These suggestions all make sense, and will do absolutely nothing. The bottom line is that the United States spend 17.6% of our gross domestic product on healthcare (the highest % of GDP of any country in the world) to the tune of 2.5 trillion dollars. Until we remove profit from the equation and recognize that access to healthcare is a fundamental, universal right of every citizen in the year 2010, and establish a universal government-run healthcare plan, these suggestions will do nothing. They won't actually generate healthcare savings; they'll add profit to those who allow 44,789 Americans to needlessly die every year to preserve the perverse private insurer system that torments our country.

  • Anonymous

    12/14/2010 5:03:35 AM |

    I'd like to know where you keep getting the idea that wheat is genetically modified. None of the commercially available wheat is genetically modified. The varieties we have on the market are the result of selecting breeding practices. Selective breeding is not the same as genetic modification in scientific terms. Furthermore, hybridisation of varieties is not genetic modification, it occurs naturally. Here is an exert from one of my recent publications:

    The BBAADD genome was derived by hybridisation of a female tetraploid (2n = 4x = 28; genome BBAA) and a male diploid [Triticum tauschii L. (2n = 2x = 14; genome DD)] (Kihar 1944; McFadden and Sears 1944, 1946a, b; Kimber and Feldman 1987; Kimber and Sears 1987; Dvorak et al. 1998). The A genome originated from Triticum urartu L., while Aegilops speltoides L. is reportedly the donor of the B genome for both tetraploid and hexaploid wheats (Dvorak et al. 1988; Wang et al. 1997).

  • Paul

    12/14/2010 6:04:53 AM |

    "What is the best way to supplement iodine and how much?" - anonymous

    Judy B. gave you a hint... kelp.  It has the highest amount of iodine of any natural dietary source, AFAIK. I buy the dry powder form sold by Now Foods.  An 8oz. bottle only costs me $4 and lasts six months... not bad.

    A quarter teaspoon has 300 mcg (200% DV) of iodine, so that's what I put in my little BCAA/whey protein shake every morning to ward off any thyroid problems, and so far so good at 50 y.o.  However, you may need a much different dosage protcol if you already have thyroid problems.  Dr. Davis has some blog posts on the subject.

  • Dr. William Davis

    12/14/2010 12:44:38 PM |

    Anonymous about wheat's genetic profile:

    1) You're off topic here.

    2) Nonetheless, I've never said that genetic modification yielded modern wheat. It has been the extensive hybridizations that have yielded this modern monstrosity called "wheat," the hexaploid dwarf that makes millions sick.

    However, I suspect that this argument only matters to people who work in the wheat-generating industry. Who gives a damn how it was created if you have a debilitating illness from it?

  • kris

    12/14/2010 3:25:39 PM |

    I too have gone to the high deductible health care plan. It is a 10,000 deductible for each member but gives you a free annual exam with some standard bloodwork. Also gives a free gynecological exam, mamogram and pap test for women. An interesting difference with these policies is that they give you unlimited prescription coverage once you meet deductible where as prescription coverage on most taps out at $2000, a lot of which you paid for with prescription coverage. There are lower deductibles. With the $10,000 deductible, I pay around $370 per month for my husband and myself and opted to put my son on full coverage since it is so inexpensive for a young person.

  • Peter

    12/14/2010 4:10:47 PM |

    Since I've been following your advice my LDL has shot up, and a bunch of other markers are all improved: CRP, HgA1c, triglycerides, HDL, fasting glucose.  How can I tell if this is a good trade or a bad one?

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    12/15/2010 2:17:42 AM |

    Iodine from the seaweed Kombu, Laminaria japonica gets stewed into anything you cook with it.
    Take a small piece, say an inch square and simmer it for extraction. Dr. Davis probably ate it as Dashi when a boy.

    Don't bother swallowing the cooked seaweed; you'll need unique genetics to digest it's poly-saccharide. Kombu has, among other good things, arsenate.

    Kelp digestability raw is dubious; maybe the surface iodine could dissolve for you. And kelp, which can incorporate arsenic, does not contain arsenate; which is what binds to arsenic to keep it from bio-availability.

  • Anonymous

    12/15/2010 5:05:35 AM |

    Rachael Ray on CBS today once again was pushing whole grains (especially wheat) as an important dietary component which “has been shown to reduce cholesterol 25%”. She doesn’t explain what type of cholesterol, nor provide her sources. This woman has done this often enough that I suspect she’s getting paid off by the industry.

  • Anonymous

    12/15/2010 6:45:11 AM |

    I quit Lovaza after I learned of the absurd mark-up. Life Extension seems to work fine.  I recently added niacin (rotten triglycerides and low HDL). I had tried the flush free junk for over a year. Now I use plain old immediate release Rugby, which runs about $20 a year at 1 gram a day. That would buy maybe four days worth of Niaspan. My next project is switching from Androgel to compounded testosterone. I have good insurance but it's insane that someone is paying $13,000 a year for a few hundred dollars worth of raw material and no real research innovation.

  • Anonymous

    12/16/2010 3:23:59 AM |

    I haven't seen a doctor in years. They won't give me herbs or real medicine - all they offer is toxic drugs. Conventional doctors are the enemy. They test for things behind your back and are essentially agents of the government. All medical information is used against you. Doctors hate me, because I won't go along with their way of doing things. They won't test vitamin D, hormones, or anything else I'm interested in. Doctors are very interested in my vaccinations and alcohol and illegal drug use, however. Marijuana is legal in my state for medical use, but I'd probably have to be on my deathbed to get a prescription from a regular doctor in this state. But they are more than happy to write a script for a toxic anti-depressant.

  • Anonymous

    12/16/2010 3:41:05 AM |

    Anonymous - For iodine, I use kelp capsules from Nature's Way and also Life Extension Sea-iodine capsules. My thyroid seems fine, so I guess they work for me. I average about 800 mcg iodine daily.

  • Anonymous

    12/18/2010 6:19:26 PM |

    Sorry, doc, but your advice really isn't entirely accurate.  Lovaza may only cost some patients a 30 buck copay per month which may be less than the cost of the appropriate dose of OTC fish oil if one takes it in the proper dose (which may be 8-10 caps per day as opposed to 2 BID of Lovaza).  Speaking of which compliance is therefore better with Lovaza too.  Personally, Walmart fish oil gives me terrible reflux and heartburn while I can't even tell I'm taking Lovaza.  Also, D2 in the form of prescription ergocalciferol is generic and the dose is 50000 Units per month at a cost of 15-20 bucks per year which is cheaper than D3 OTC.  There is also some reason to believe that D2 is more effective than OTC D3.  Cost efficient care needs to be individualized.  I am a physician and try to provide my patients with good medical advice that is cost effective as well.  And, BTW, I have no connections to the drug industry.

  • Dr. William Davis

    12/18/2010 9:40:34 PM |

    Anonymous Doc--

    Wow. Your comments are so far from the truth that I don't know where to start.

    If you read many of the previous posts on this blog, I hope you will see how far out of touch your comments are. D2 better than D3? Since when is the mushroom or invertebrate form of anything better than the real HUMAN form?

    Note that the discussion is how to save money for the overall system, not just keep more money in your pocket.

    Next time leave a name.

  • Chuck

    12/19/2010 2:54:13 PM |

    call me ignorant because i am not certain of this answer.  if the patient has a copay of say $30 on a prescription does the insurance also pay a certain amount for that prescription?

  • Dr. William Davis

    12/19/2010 3:10:01 PM |

    Yes, indeed, Chuck.

    Insurance will then cover another $100 or so. This is the cost we all bear through our health insurance premiums. This money goes straight into the pocket of GlaxoSmithKline, who are presently salivating over the great print-more-money franchise they have, thanks to the ignorance of the American public.

    I find it incredible that here and in related posts people have made comments like "So what? My insurance covers Lovaza." That is precisely the point: We all share the costs eventually, copay or no, with crippling health insurance premiums, while the drug industry makes out like bandits.

    How about a fly-the-entire-sales-force-to-the-Bahamas sales meeting this year?

  • Anonymous

    12/19/2010 5:53:32 PM |

    What's up with the coconut picture at the head of this blog?

    I searched and didn't find any posting about coconuts...

    Personally I have a severe coconut addiction and the picture flares it further.

Loading