Most people have heard of vitamins A and D, but very few have heard of vitamin K2. However, that’s probably about to change. Up until just a few short years ago, there was no conclusive evidence about the existence or importance of vitamin K2. For more than six decades, the substance was simply referred to as “Activator X.” It escaped scientific notice for many years because there was no clear evidence that it did anything other than help to clot the blood, which is what regular vitamin K is known to do. The work of one man, Weston Price, changed all of that. Learn more about how Price discovered Activator X and how Activator X became identified as vitamin K2 below.
The Discovery of Activator X
Although he was a Cleveland dentist, Weston Price ended up traveling the world to find out why people in some cultures had such strong, healthy, cavity-free teeth. He was motivated to embark on these journeys after encountering patient after patient who had cavity-filled mouths and ongoing pain. Interestingly enough, Price discovered that people in many “primitive” cultures had much healthier teeth than people in developed countries. He eventually narrowed things down to pinpoint fat-soluble, animal-derived vitamins as the building blocks of healthy teeth. Among those three vitamins, he was able to easily identify vitamins D and A. The third one remained unidentified, and he dubbed it Activator X.
The Trouble with Identifying Activator X
You should think of the term Activator X as a placeholder because that’s what it was meant to be. Price and his contemporaries knew that the mystery vitamin had to be related to other vitamins, but they were unable to conclusively identify it. The main issue was that iodometric determination, which is the test that is used to identify these substances, does so by testing for peroxides. As a result, it is unable to identify nutritional characteristics. Therefore, there was no reliable way to identify Activator X as vitamin K2 for a very long time.
The Discovery of Vitamin K2
It was until nearly 60 years after Price’s initial discovery of Activator X that vitamin K2 was officially identified. The first groundwork was laid during the 1970s, when Danish scientists developed a way to test for and identify K vitamins. However, everyone assumed that if it existed, vitamin K2 was just a close relative of regular vitamin K. As a result, most people assumed that it also mostly worked during blood clotting. In an article published in 2007, Chris Masterjohn made the announcement that vitamin K2 had been officially identified. It was referred to as a MK-4 isoform, and it was given the alternate name of menatetronone.
Where to Find Vitamin K2
Through years of extensive research, it has been determined that vitamin K2, or Activator X, is most abundant in butter that comes from grass-fed cows. In other words, butter that is made from milk that comes from grain-fed cows isn’t going to contain nearly as much of it. It is also found in abundance in shellfish, fish eggs, insects and organ meats. It is easy to see why people in many Western civilizations may not get enough of it. These types of foods are hardly popular.
There are many other foods that contain vitamin K2, but they don’t have the high concentrations of the vitamin that are found in grass-fed butter and other foods. For instance, certain egg yolks contain it. However, the eggs at your local grocery store probably do not. Chicken liver and certain hard cheeses contain it too, but this is not universally true. What’s clear is that vitamin K2 simply isn’t floating around in most types of food. To take advantage of the great health benefits that go along with it, people will need to actively seek it out. Although these discoveries are fairly recent, supplements have already been developed to address the issue.
Impact on the Body
Vitamin K2 works synergistically with vitamins D and A, which means that it only works well when those other vitamins are abundant too. It plays a key role in the metabolism of important minerals, which may explain why it seems to be so helpful when it comes to dental health. As far as its impact on the body goes, it appears to play a strong role during teeth and bone formation. It also seems to provide important benefits to the central nervous system and cardiovascular system. Some believe that it can help to treat heart disease.
K2 or Activator X Supplements
Short of buying a cow and feeding a diet that consists mostly of grass, how are you supposed to introduce more vitamin K2 or Activator X to your diet? These days, the best solution comes in the form of supplements. There are a couple of different options when it comes to K2 supplements. The first one is called menaquinone-4, or MK-4. It is produced synthetically, but it appears to be highly effective. It is also quite expensive. The other, more affordable option is called menaquinone-7, or MK-7. It is an extract of natto, which is a fermented soy food. It’s a lot more affordable, but its effectiveness is questionable.
If you keep developing cavities despite engaging in excellent oral hygiene, a lack of vitamin K2 might be the culprit. At any rate, it doesn’t hurt to try introducing more of this vitamin to your daily diet. Unless you have ready access to the specific foods that contain this vitamin, you should plan on buying one of the supplements that are currently available. They can be ordered online. In addition to helping with your dental health, these supplements might improve your bones and enhance your cardiovascular health as well.