Among the many hacks we do in this Paleosphere, pushing out crap food in favor of real, nutrient dense food has to be the biggest bang for the buck. As I've blogged before but is hard to overemphasize, nutritional density counts for Big Lots. For review: 4 ounces of liver vs. 5 pounds of mixed fruit. And a loaf of bread vs. an equal caloric intake of beef liver or salmon.
There's really two, maybe three ways to approach this whole deal. As in my post of yesterday regarding the health & longevity spectrum, one approach is to simply eat a good amount of real food, even if unaware of what the bad stuff is. The other, most notably my friend Dr. Kurt Harris' approach, is to be primarily proscriptive; i.e., cut out the neolithic agents of disease (NAD: flour, sugar, vegetable oils). The second approach is obviously superior because it gets you to the first approach anyway, and with more knowledge.
A third approach, however, might be to go with the second, above, but combined with really zeroing in on high nutritional density—focussing on it. This is what I'm gravitating toward. In that endeavor, both Dr. Stephan Guyenet and Ad. (almost doctor) Chris Masterjohn have always been my go-to guys. Over years of reading their stuff, one thing always seems to ring important: nutritional density.
...And it was via both of them that I first became enamored of the nutrient which is the subject of this post. It was June of 2008, when Stephan did his first post on the subject. That led me to Chris Masterjohn's very extensive article on it from February of the same year.
I'm an integrator, a synthesizer...rather than doing anything really original. I hate jigsaw puzzles, but seem to like connecting dots...and all these dots just seemed to fall into place.
At this point, I'm just going to point you to the number of posts I've done on Vitamin K2 that seem to signal that it's somewhat of a "miracle" nutrient. But not really. I don't buy into any of the "superfood" crap, really—unless maybe you're talking beef liver, oysters, mussels, fish roe, etc...and who does that? In point of fact, it's not a miracle at all but rather, something that was relatively plentiful in ancestral diets and is almost absent now—with the possible exception of those of the low-fat paradigm who "cheat" on good cheese.
So rather, let me tell a story.
To preface it, I must mention a dentist of the early 20th century, Weston A. Price, who had a clever idea. Rather than try to find out directly why he had teenager patients with rotted teeth to the tune of 1 in 3, and whom he was fitting for dentures—not to mention the corrective orthodontic work that often needed doing—he set out to find out if there were populations without either of those problems (rotten teeth and crowded teeth).
He found it in spades. You can read all about it for free with lots of photos, courtesy of Project Gutenberg: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, published in 1939, I believe. Over about 10 years in the 1920s and 30s, he and his wife travelled the world to seek out primitive populations that were out of normal contact and trade with the modern world. That is, they lived by their own means. He found what I consider to be three very important things: almost no dental cavities (about 1 tooth in 1,000 vs. 1 in 3 in the modern world), wide dental bridges (no need for "braces"), and near effortless childbirth (wide birth canals in females). To round things out, he came home and used what he found to correct tooth decay in his patients. That is, he got cavities to remineralize.
Now we're talkin' minerals, the unifying, connect-the-dots theme!
It was in the mid and late 90's when I began to have regular appointments with the dentist and his hygienist. They referred me to a periodontist, a surgeon who specializes in gum issues. Seems I had some "deep pockets," as they call them, towards the back of my molars where cleanings could not get to. (I had both corrective orthodontics—"braces"—as a kid, and had my "wisdom" teeth pulled in college—and loved the "percs".)
...Never did I stop to wonder how animals in the wild can possibly manage...without regular brushing, flossing, cleanings and...dental surgery.
Because I was still struggling along in business, several years away from hitting a stride, I just opted for the cleanings every three months over the surgery that would set me back a few thousand. I had no insurance, and wasn't interested in having any of you—or anyone else—pay my way. ...I'm so fucking weird about that shit...
In 2001, with things looking up, I went for the dental surgery—two of them...one side top & bottom, then the other. It helped. While I still had to use the numbing mouthwash before each cleaning, it was more effective in those deep pocket areas that used to catapult me to the ceiling in pain when the hygienist would probe them with her sharp poker. This went on for years. The surgery was like a reset button. OK, now 3 cleanings per year, and while things are back to reasonable, it's still only a progression until such time that surgery is required again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
And then in 2008 everything changed. I attribute it to both the better Paleo diet, but also the micronutrient; again, the subject of the post.
I initially went with Green Pastures Butter Oil capsules, and that was remarkable. After a couple of rounds, I went on the cheap and got the synthetic drops from Thorne. Didn't notice much difference either way and so later, I began with the K2 Complex from Life Extension Foundation—that I remained on up until a few months ago. The small gel caps were convenient. But the thing is, some of the luster went out of the whole experience. I seemed to still get calculus buildup on my teeth and they felt "rough" in a number of places. It's especially severe on the inside of the lower front teeth. I would at times stick a wooden toothpick through there and important chunks of mineralized deposits would break off.
I still had cleanings; and while things were actually improving rather than getting worse, there was really nothing to write home about. But still, I haven't had a cleaning in at least over a year. It may be approaching 2 years...and the dentist office has stopped calling to schedule.
I was kind of getting to the point of forgetting about the whole problem, comfortable in the knowledge that things weren't optimal, but at least not totally out of hand, as they were before.
But a few months ago, I ordered the original butter oil from Green Pastures—Price's original formulation. I noticed some improvement over the first several days, much like I recall from the beginning. It's in the smoothness of your teeth, particularly upon waking in the morning. And I thought...huh...why not go the distance? So, when my first two bottles ran out and I re-ordered again, this time I also got the fermented cod liver oil caps. Two caps per day of each and the measurable results have been nothing short of phenomenal.
But shit-hell all over the place...it goes to all that bullshit on the Internet, does't it? Yea, some berry from the rain forrest that 99% of the evolved people on Planet Earth never ate is some "superfood" you just can't do without. Well, guess what? The nutrient I've been talking about is relatively prevalent in all natural diets—so long as you eat the whole thing. At the equator. At the arctic. At sea level. At 16,000 feet. And everyplace in between. Just eat the whole animal.
...Or, as a modern person like me, find ways to supplement when you aren't regularly chowing down on bone marrow, organs, fish eggs and the like.
So to conclude the story, here I sit, about 10 years after having gum surgery with before and after experiences of several major teeth cleanings per year and I really don't even find a need to brush my teeth. I can literally go days and my teeth remain as though they were pearls in an oyster shell and my tongue is the flesh that explores them. And my gums have not the slightest hint of inflammation, swelling, or anything of the sort. It is remarkable.
Aside from the weight loss via Paleo that got me started on this track in the first place: this, of all things, has been the most remarkably significant and easy to verify aspect of the whole deal. ...And while supplementing vitamin D has also seemed to have a big impact, I don't really have concrete results I can point too. Yea, Beatrice and I rarely, if ever, get sick anymore, and I seem to be able to kill a cold in a day or two by upping the D sups, but it's simply not so much of a concrete and profound result confounded by variables and randomness as has been the K2, given my history of teeth and gum issues.
Update: 2 things. First, someone mentioned in comments about bleeding gums, especially during brushing. Yes, that too. I always used to bleed when brushing and haven't done so a single time in years, now.
Second, someone wanted the product links to what I use. I didn't put them in there originally because I didn't want people to assume I had any affiliate relationship. I don't. I use the capsule form of these: butter oil, and fermented cod liver oil.
Update 2: This just in, a pretty good TEEVEE video on K2, though it doesn't make any distinction between subforms. But listen for the theme, about K2 being the thing that causes calcium to go where it should (bones & teeth) and not where it shouldn't (soft tissues like coronary arteries). Been saying it since 2008.