Vitamin K2, Vitamin D, and COVID Revisited

December 05, 2021

Vitamin K2 and COVID Revisited

We have written a column on the curious resistance of the Japanese to COVID-19 being associated with the consumption of natto. Natto is a unique Japanese dish, eaten mostly for breakfast, and made from fermented soybeans. The Fukushima prefecture eats the most natto and has had the least COVID. That effect was thought to be from a yet unidentified protein because heat treating natto inactivated the effect. Otherwise, COVID-19, on exposure to natto could not enter cultured lab cells at all.

But it might not just be the protein. It might be the K2 as well. Natto turns out to be the highest food source of K2 known to humankind. Take 150 folks infected with COVID and measure the protein in their blood that K2 activates, K–dependent dephosphorylated uncarboxylated matrix Gla protein. Just call it Matrix GLA protein. It depends on K2 to be activated. High levels mean there isn't much K2 around. Turns out that the folks who got seriously ill had very high levels of Matrix GLA protein. Or, no K2. And independently, folks with low Vitamin D (< 20 ng) also had worse COVID infections. For every 1 Log unit increase of Matrix GLA protein, the risk of death or severe disease doubled. For every 1 log unit decrease in blood Vitamin D, the risk of death tripled.

What's the mechanism behind all this? We aren't quite sure yet because measure K2 is nigh impossible, to date. Our intake is so low, blood levels are hard to obtain. But Matrix GLA protein can be measured. With just the tiniest amount of K2, high levels of Matrix GLA protein come down dramatically.

Bruce Ame's argued for the "triage theory" of evolution whereby we react to environmental stressors based on those internal nutrients, vitamins, and minerals whose absence becomes the rate-limiting step of survival. There are many nutrients of which we have just barely enough. We don't get ill/impaired until that particular nutrient is needed. Low Vitamin D allows you to squeak by until you fall and a bone breaks, or until influenza shows up and you can't mount an immune response. We have that model with Vitamin D. Now, we recognize K2 as a synergistic partner with D.

We used to have K2 in our food chain when we ate animals raised on grass. Those animals made K2 in their gut. With our current animals all fed corn and beans with precious little grass, our K2 intake has plummeted some 90%. Bruce Ame's triage theory would then consider K2 a critical nutrient that then becomes the nexus of trouble when COVID shows up. Without sufficient K2, for reasons still undefined, we die.  That's how natural selection works.  I don't want to be naturally selected out.  

Is it the Vitamin K2? Is it the mystery protease in natto? All that is unknown. Good science allows leads to more questions. And good science is showing that more people die if their K2 intake is insufficient.

www.What will Work for me. Hmmm. With Omicon lurking out there, it is important that every person you know is encouraged to be on Vitamin D and Vitamin K2. Babies included. Two thousand units of Vitamin D a day is safe for infants. And it comes with K2 in it. Buy the combination.  Super K for Life Extension is easy to find on line.  As an adult, I'm doubling up on my K2 for the foreseeable future. No harm in it. And I just started my next batch of homemade natto. It will last me a month, at least.

References: IDSA Open Forum, Scand Jr Clin Lab Invest, NutraIngredients, Biochem Biores Comm, Inter Jr Endocrinology,Jr Immunology,

Pop Quiz

1. Where do you naturally get K2 from?                           Answer: GRASS-raised animals. Only. Or from natto, fermented soybeans. (There is precious little comparative research but one example I found: Dutch Gouda cheese, advertised as grass raised, has 10 iu of K2 per ounce whereas an American Gouda had 2.

2. What does K2 do?                                       Answer: We know it "carboxylates", or adds a carbon-oxygen group, to two proteins that upon activation make bones stronger and arteries stretchier. Matrix GLA protein is one of them. Osteocalcin is in your bones.

3. And what does the research study today show?                                    Answer: folks with low K2 had a doubled risk of death from COVID.

4. What's enough Vitamin D?                                           Answer: We know that you don't produce your natural antibiotic, cathelicidin, until your D level is above 32. Hence, the minimum D level should be 33. The benefit curve appears to say optimum is 50-80.

5. What's enough K2?                                               Answer: We don't know how to measure it. But we know its absence is bad. So, take some. I'm taking a double dose for the next year or so. Bought some Dutch Gouda at Sendiks. Yummy.