Vitamin K2, Menatetrenone (MK-4)

Since my last but fairly recent vitamin K2 post, Stephan has posted on K2 from the perspective of cardiovascular disease.

Take a good look at it, as well the references he cites. Did you read his other posts on K2, as I suggested? If not, maybe now is the time. I previously wrote:

You really owe it to yourself to look into this. Think of it this way: 60 years ago they were curing cavities in teeth by getting them to re-calcify using this exact thing. Now, think of what happens with a vitamin D deficiency; rickets, right? rubbery bones. Calcium. Other mineral salts. What you will find is that these vitamins, in combination, essentially cause your minerals to go everyplace they should, and no place they shouldn't (such as the walls of your arteries).

Now here's some of the research Stephan dug up.

  • Tissue-specific utilization of menaquinone-4 results in the prevention of arterial calcification in warfarin-treated rats. (link)
  • Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study. (link)
  • High dietary menaquinone intake is associated with reduced coronary calcification. (link)
  • Matrix Gla-protein: the calcification inhibitor in need of vitamin K. (link)

Coincidentally, Loren Cordain's free newsletter was about the K vitamins this week and here's an excerpt.

There are two different forms of vitamin K: Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, is found in green plants such as green, leafy vegetables. Vitamin K2, more properly designated: menaquinones (MK), is bacterially synthesized forms of Vitamin K (especially anaerobic bacteria that is present in the lower bowel).

The main function of Vitamin K is to carboxylate or activate a class of proteins called Gla-proteins. Phylloquinone [K1] preferably carboxylates or activates clotting factors in the liver, and menaquinones [K2] preferably carboxylate or activate other Gla-proteins such as matrix-Gla protein (which prevents calcification of soft tissues such as arteries) and osteocalcin (which is responsible for depositing calcium in the bones where it belongs).

So, how do we get it? Well, the best place is in food. Cordian's suggestion:

Liver and to a lesser extent meat also contain MKs and, as Dr. Cordain has explained on the website, organ meats were favoured parts of the animal so presumably this was one way our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have gotten their MKs. And, let's not forget menaquinones from gut bacteria. Unfortunately, today that may not be as reliable a source for some since we now live in a world with the generalized use of antibiotics, which may destroy gut flora.

Therefore, it could be useful to include organic organ meats (such as liver) in your diet, to maintain a healthy gut bacteria flora by supplementing with a broad spectrum probiotic supplement when an antibiotic is needed, to eat enough soluble fibre found in vegetables and certain fruits (such as apples) and prebiotic containing vegetables (such as onions and garlic).

Easy for me, as I love liver. Here's also a list from the excellent Chris Masterjohn article I previously linked. As you can see, various organ meats and eggs seem to be highest, but the general message is clear: eat lots of meats. Makes sense, huh?

As far as supplemental sources, I think it's a good idea, and also for omega-3 fats and vitamin D3. I'll post about the importance of the omega-3 fats later, but essentially my regime on non-fasting days is 3g of salmon oil (3 gel caps), 2g of cod liver oil (2 gel caps), 1g of butter oil (2 caps) from Green Pastures (for the K2, MK-4). I also try to get a few hours of skin exposed sunlight per week during the spring & summer, and then I supplement 4,000 IU of D3 daily from October to April. There's a few other K2 (MK-4) sources: Thorne, Carlson, and here's a D3/K2 (MK-4) combo from Nature's Plus.

Other than that, I take no other supplements, no multi-vitamin or anything. Just food.

And what of my experience? Well, the K2 is the only one I definitely "feel." Marked difference in softness of skin overnight, and my wife has since noticed her skin improve as well. Within a few days, all plaque deposits on my teeth dissolved and have not returned. This has been a big issue, as I had gum disease and two surgeries about seven years ago. Since getting off grains (probably the gluten) my gum disease has reversed completely according to the dentist. And now, my teeth are virtually always smooth. I rarely feel the need to brush them.

The following excerpt suggests why.

Weston Price was primary interested in Activator X because of its ability to control dental caries. By studying the remains of human skeletons from past eras, he estimated that there had been more dental caries in the preceding hundred years than there had been in any previous thousand-year period and suggested that Activator X was a key substance that people of the past obtained but that modern nutrition did not adequately provide. Price used the combination of high-vitamin cod liver oil and high-Activator X butter oil as the cornerstone of his protocol for reversing dental caries. This protocol not only stopped the progression of tooth decay, but completely reversed it without the need for oral surgery by causing the dentin to grow and remineralize, sealing what were once active caries with a glassy finish. One 14-year-old girl completely healed 42 open cavities in 24 teeth by taking capsules of the high-vitamin cod liver oil and Activator X concentrate three times a day for seven months.

Activator X also influences the composition of saliva. Price found that if he collected the saliva of individuals immune to dental caries and shook it with powdered bone or tooth meal, phosphorus would move from the saliva to the powder; by contrast, if he conducted the same procedure with the saliva of individuals susceptible to dental caries, the phosphorus would move in the opposite direction from the powder to the saliva. Administration of the Activator X concentrate to his patients consistently changed the chemical behavior of their saliva from phosphorus-accepting to phosphorus-donating. The Activator X concentrate also reduced the bacterial count of their saliva. In a group of six patients, administration of the concentrate reduced the Lactobacillus acidophilus count from 323,000 to 15,000. In one individual, the combination of cod liver oil and Activator X concentrate reduced the L. acidophilus count from 680,000 to 0.

As a final note, you can round out your calcification management by checking out the Track Your Plaque program, along with Dr Davis' Heart Scan Blog.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Stephan on November 10, 2008 at 17:36

    Spread the gospel! By the way, intestinal bacteria appear not to be a good source of K2. It gets flushed down the toilet instead of absorbed into the body. Probably just as well since gut K2 is the longer menaquinones.

  2. Greg Freeman on November 10, 2008 at 19:29

    Rich, a question about liver:

    I've never eaten it. I'd like to try it but honestly I'm afraid of it being unpalatable to me for texture or taste. I'm willing to give it a shot with a decent recommendation for a restaurant that serves a decent liver entree so I can analyze it and try to replicate it when I cook it. I'm reluctant to try cooking it without ever having tasted liver before.

    Also, how about Foie Gras? Another one I've never tried, but I've seen several packages in both Whole Foods and Trader Joes but never had the courage to try it.

  3. Richard Nikoley on November 10, 2008 at 19:47


    Well, good liver is tough to get in restaurants, at least the way I like it prepared. And, I like it with onions and those should always be done to total caramelization and just beyond (they will be almost black and develop a slight sour taste if done right).

    As for the liver, I want it about 1/2" thick or less. Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions instructed to immerse the liver slices in pure lemon juice for an hour or so. This removes some toxins and also made it real tender. I like the beef liver better than calf liver.

    I cook it in a cast iron skillet, and I do both the liver and onions in bacon drippings. Cook to well done.

    You might check the online menus of good restaurants in your area (good Italian restos sometimes have it) and give it a shot.

    Foie Gras? AWESOME! In fact, we were just at a top notch steakhouse a couple of weeks ago and my wife had it for appetizer, and it was served in "liver & onions" style. It was to die for.

  4. billy-jay on November 11, 2008 at 04:52

    Oh, man–natto. I guess I'll give that another try. My previous experience was that it didn't taste bad, but everything else (texture, smell, appearance) was unappetizing.

    I seem to remember that Salmon Roe was pretty high in K2, as well.

  5. Richard Nikoley on November 11, 2008 at 09:41


    Remember; natto has no MK-4, only very high MK-7. I don't intend to incorporate. Yes on the salmon roe. I used to eat it straight from the belly when I gill-netted salmon in Alaska as a college student. My favorite sushi is Ikura, which is the salmon roe on a dollop of rice, all wrapped in dried seaweed.


    I'd suggest supplementing with A, D (high vitamin cod liver oil is a good way) and K2 MK-4 for a couple f weeks, then schedule a teeth cleaning. Once done, I suspect your teeth with stay smooth and largely plaque free going forward.

    As to stains, some of them went away on my teeth, but not all. I have a cleaning coming up soon, and following that it'll probably go to a one per year thing. I began this regime a couple f months after my lat cleaning so I had significant plaque deposits. Those have dissolved, but in some cases I still have staining.

    I've got a photo of liver, so I'll post on how I cook it.

  6. Justin on November 11, 2008 at 07:31

    Next time you cook up your liver recipe, could you take some pictures? I've never had liver (ever). I think the closest I've come to it was using chicken livers as bait for catfish probably 15 years ago. So I'm thoroughly out of my element here.

    All of this is news to me, and I'm particularly interested in the dental advantages associated with these products. I've never had a cavity and would like to keep it that way — however, I've got some unsightly calcium deposits and I'm wondering if supplementation might make them go away (of course, dentists have told me there's nothing I could do other than bleach the rest of my tooth to make the offending deposit blend in)

  7. Greg Freeman on November 11, 2008 at 20:14


    I bought a small chicken liver mousse pate and gave it a shot by itself. It was definitely unlike anything I'd have before. I could stomach it and could see eating it after a fast, but I was curious as to what I should spread it on (since I don't buy bread). Carrots? Veggies?

    • Walter Bushell on August 2, 2016 at 14:33

      Spread it?! Eat it with a spoon!

  8. Richard Nikoley on November 11, 2008 at 22:16


    Personally, I love pate of all sorts piled into the trough of celery, just like you see done with PB and cream cheese.

    In general, experiment with spreads and various things. I do. For example, you can thin spreads or livers with olive oil and mash them up. Try them as a dip with cauliflower. Spread them on a slice of cucumber. Experiment without fear of failure. There's always another day and meal or two.

  9. -Brandon on December 18, 2008 at 14:40

    What do you know about TwinLabs D3/K2 dots? They are Mk-7 90mcg and D3 1000 IU. Is there an appreciable difference in the effectiveness of Mk-4 vs. Mk-7?

    Just curious

  10. Monica on December 18, 2008 at 19:25

    I too have seen my teeth get whiter on a primal diet. I used to whiten all the time. Not anymore.

    Thanks for linking to my new blog BTW.

  11. Richard Nikoley on December 18, 2008 at 14:59


    Run 'K2' through the blog search engine over to the right. That will bring up everything I've written on K2. I'd suggest following the links primarily to Stephan's articles I cite.

    Essentially, the K2 we're talking about is the MK-4 subform, which is only found in animal sources. MK-7 comes from the fermentation of (I assume) various sorts of plant matter, natto being the most prominent.

    I don't think it is known for sure whether the '7' subform would be inferior to '4', but from a Paleo perspective, we know that our ancestors likely consumed quite a bit of the '4' as it's found in organ meats, marrow, fish eggs, etc., and probably none of the '7', so I'd definitely go with the '4'.

  12. Veronica on January 4, 2010 at 00:37

    Hello Richard, I’m joining this thread a little late, but have a question on Nature’s Plus, Thorne and Carlson K2. Have you confirmed that it does indeed k2 MK-4 and not MK-7?


    • Richard Nikoley on January 4, 2010 at 14:36

      Nature’s plus I don’t know about, but both the Thorne and Carlson are MK-4 Menatetrenone.

      • Ver0nica on January 5, 2010 at 00:26

        Thanks Richard. I found the Thorne products site. Since I’m on the tiny side, I think I’ll opt for Thorne’s 1mg drops. 🙂

      • Nigel on January 5, 2010 at 04:28

        I gather from Ultra K2 that MK-4 45mg/day is safe, so don’t worry about a few mg/day.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 5, 2010 at 14:18

        Life Extension also has a product with 1mg mk-4 and 1mcg mk-7.

  13. […] calcium bonding and balances and activates the effects of Vitamin D and A, it also seems to eradicate bacteria and changes saliva from phosphorus-accepting to phosphorus-donating, meaning that your own spit […]

  14. Gum Disease, Heart Disease, Premature Births, and Vitamin K2 | Lost Wanderer on June 1, 2010 at 17:32

    […] is a fascinating write up from Free the Animal about vitamin K2 regarding its effects on dental […]

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