Women’s Voice had the opportunity to speak with naturopathic doctor, Kate Rhéaume, about her extensive research on vitamin K2’s ability to draw calcium into bone. Her commitment to the study of vitamin K2 gifted her with a best-selling book and the status of a pioneer in the discovery of this vital, but virtually unknown nutrient’s immense benefits.
Vitamin K2 was not on anyone’s radar when you wrote your book. What sparked your interest in this nutrient?
In 2008, I came across a few scientific papers on vitamin K2 as an adjunct treatment for various forms of cancer. As a naturopathic doctor, I completed extensive nutrition training and up to now I hadn’t heard of this vitamin. I did a little more digging and realized there was quite a body of research on vitamin K2, and it held significant health benefits, yet it was virtually unknown. At that point, I was hooked and studied as much as I could about it. The process of researching it felt like unravelling a mystery or unearthing a hidden treasure.
Why did you write a book about this topic?
As I probed further into the research on vitamin K2, I realized this was a nutrient that offered meaningful health benefits to large groups of people, yet those people were missing out due to lack of awareness. At the same time, around 2010, studies showed that calcium supplements posed harm by increasing the risk of heart attack and strokes. Since so many women took supplemental calcium, the media went wild, which created confusion and fear among calcium supplement takers. The solution was not to ditch calcium, but to make sure it gets into the right places, which is the role of K2. That critical problem with calcium was the jumping-off point for writing the book because vitamin K2 provides the missing piece to that puzzle. It also improves vitamin D safety. So, there were many reasons to write a book on vitamin k2 and share crucial information for people concerned about bone health, cardiovascular health, children’s health, oral and dental health, healthy aging, and more. Clarifying vitamin K2’s role was essential for anyone who takes calcium supplements or vitamin D.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of this work?
I’m always touched to hear from people who have incorporated vitamin K2-rich food or supplements and are delighted to report the benefits they experienced. Many readers have reported improvements in bone density, reduced calcification of soft tissues, and even added benefits, such as healing psoriasis. I also find it so fun to share that cheese is a health food! Not every cheese is high in K2, but Brie, Gouda, Jarlsberg, and Pecorino are a few of the vitamin’s best food sources. After decades of thinking, healthy eating was all about the bland, low-fat fare; it is excellent news that Brie cheese and a glass of red wine is a very heart-healthy snack! The so-called sin foods widely enjoyed in European diets aren’t always something we can get away with eating in the context of a healthy diet, but they may be more central to a healthy diet than previously known. Instead of feeling guilty about eating cheese and having a glass of red wine, we should feel virtuous!
Your book has become a bestseller, translated into multiple languages, and garnered hundreds of 5-star reviews online. Did you anticipate this type of success?
(Laughing) All authors dream of success, but there is no way to tell how a book will be received when writing. It’s encouraging when a book continues to sell because that reflects the organic process of people sharing what they discovered when reading about vitamin K2. That said, I did not expect the international attention the book has drawn. I still get questions from around the world in many languages – thank goodness for translation apps.
What has been your biggest challenge in this process?
Even though my book has been a success, by all accounts, awareness of vitamin K2 is not where it should be. Many medical professionals remain in the dark about this nutrient. Every week my inbox contains emails which state, “My doctor doesn’t understand vitamin K2.” Everyone understands the importance of vitamin D, but most are not aware that vitamin K2 works very closely with D. Hence, one of my goals is that everyone begins to understand this relationship and the importance of both nutrients.
Do you think you have enough material for another book to raise more awareness about the benefits of vitamin K2?
We are still in the early days of vitamin K2 research. New studies are coming out, which reinforces the tremendous health benefits I reported in my book, and many of the studies are pointing to new areas of benefit. Getting more information out about vitamin K2 is an ongoing effort and area of immense passion, so there may be another book coming soon.