Perhaps you’ve seen the “K” on the Periodic Table of the Elements. It stands for potassium, which is an extremely important mineral because every cell in the body relies on it. Crucial for heart function, bone health and playing a key role in skeletal strength and smooth muscle contraction, potassium also supports digestive and muscular function. Truth be told, you wouldn’t have a heartbeat or any muscle contractions without it.
Beyond these effects, potassium is also essential for carbohydrate metabolism, which provides energy for the body. Additionally, adequate potassium intake positively influences blood pressure levels, according to the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. Potassium also functions as an important electrolyte which helps the body’s blood chemistry, muscle action and other vital processes.
Unfortunately, only about half of Americans get the potassium they need. That could spell trouble, too, because studies indicate that low potassium intake contributes to unhealthy bones, blood pressure levels and more. Some foods, however, provide ample amounts of potassium: grassfed, organic meats; grassfed dairy products; bananas; avocados; spinach; beets; kiwi; broccoli; raisins; fish such as salmon; and legumes. Make sure you add them to your diet, so that you don't miss out on this first special K, potassium.
There’s another special K you don’t want to come up short on—vitamin K2. Here’s a little history on it. While studying the diets of healthy primitive people groups, Harvard-trained dentist Dr. Weston Price discovered a dietary “X Factor” containing strong catalytic properties that help the body absorb and utilize minerals. It's now known as vitamin K2, and we've learned that it also protects people’s teeth, while supporting healthy overall growth and development as well as reproductive, cardiovascular, blood sugar, skin and brain health.
As mentioned, vitamin K2 was a part of the diets of the healthy population groups Price studied, but its intake disappeared with the onset of modern agriculture. Here's why: Price noted that vitamin K2 was in the butterfat, organs and fat of animals consuming rapidly growing green grass, but vitamin K2 disappeared in cows fed grain and other feed that excludes the green grass they are designed to eat. Most modern agriculture methods are designed to feeds cows in feedlot fashion with grain, of course, so vitamin K2 fell off the radar for a time.
Nowadays, however, we know more than ever about vitamin K2, especially a form of it known as MK-7, which is the most readily metabolized form. It's found most abundantly in natto, a fermented soy dish, and other fermented foods such as sauerkraut; organic fermented cheeses and other cultured dairy foods; as well as grassfed beef. Not only do these foods provide enough vitamin K2, but they also increase healthy intestinal bacteria so that K2 is properly assimilated in the body.
Additionally, vitamin K2 is an excellent calcium regulator, which moves excess arterial calcium into bone tissue where it belongs and is needed, but removes it from the arteries where it doesn’t belong. Likewise, a recent study indicates that K2 in the form of MK-7 increases the percentage of osteocalcin—the protein in bones that is used as a marker for the bone formation process—in humans three times more powerfully than another form of vitamin K, K1, does. K2 also reduces heart unhealth in humans, while K1 does not. Interestingly, the list goes on and on of instances in which K2 outperforms K1.
So, if you're not getting enough potassium and vitamin K2 in your diet, there are some foods that give you both. I call it the "K & K connection," and you can find it in these foods: organic grassfed beef, fermented cheeses and other cultured dairy products.
What a delicious way to make sure you get enough of these two special Ks.