Breastfeeding! What a wonderful closeness it provides for a mother and baby. However, it can be very nutritionally demanding and is not always problem-free.
A couple months into nursing, I noticed that my dental health was declining, despite my dedicated brushing, flossing, and tongue-cleaning regimen. Of course, the feeling that my teeth were “crumbling,” soft, and overly-sensitive was discouraging, but the new yellowness between my teeth and a few holes and dark spots in my molars were disturbing. So, of course, I dived into books and articles to find a holistic cure. I feared that my teeth were just a reflection of my bones–were they crumbling, too?
Of course, dental hygiene, teeth grinding, age, genetics, and vomiting (morning sickness…yuck!) dramatically affect the state of our teeth, but…SURPRISE! Diet has more of an effect on our oral health and our bones than most of us know. And it’s not all about sugar.
I came across some fascinating information regarding the natural synergy of minerals and fat-soluble vitamins such as….*drumroll*…calcium and vitamin K in bone metabolism:
Bad news for most:
There are 3 different kinds of vitamin K (K1, K2, and K3), yet people are commonly deficient in it .
Deficiency is more likely to be found in those who have digestive problems, have used antibiotics (which are also found in our water and some foods), and/or use cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins)   . Unfortunately, these issues are very widespread! That’s a little alarming…
If you’re deficient in vitamin K, calcium deposits accumulate in your blood vessels. This is called “vascular calcification.” The WHO states that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death globally, yet, it isn’t well-known that vascular calcification is a key cause of CVD and CVD-induced death .
But, on a positive note, The Oman Medical Journal stated in 2014 that vitamin K can actually inhibit this “vascular and soft tissue calcification,” and that it can prevent and eventually treat cardiovascular disease .
In other words, vitamin K is necessary in order to get calcium where it needs to be. Without it, all that calcium will just accumulate in the wrong places. There’s hope!
Calcium/vitamin D supplements alone are not enough for your bones, and too much for your heart:
I’m sure you know someone popping calcium/vitamin D supplements like they’re candy. Here’s why you shouldn’t:
“elevated consumption of calcium supplements may raise the risk for heart disease and can be connected with accelerated deposit of calcium in blood-vessel walls and soft tissues” .
This concern is especially relevant for vitamin K-deficient individuals. However, as I mentioned above, it’s fortunate that
“calcium in tandem with vitamin K2 may well be the solution for bringing necessary bone benefits while circumventing an increased risk for heart disease” .
So, if you’re going to take supplemental calcium (and vitamin D), make sure you get your fill of vitamin K! It’s absolutely essential!
It’s possible to strengthen your teeth, too:
As I’ve partly pointed out, vitamin K may serve as the missing puzzle-piece for those who suffer with osteoporosis, low bone mineral density, and even tooth decay   .
In fact, according to the Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism, vitamin K “is safe in treatment for osteoporosis”  and it effectively prevents new fractures from occurring .
Therefore, one can even avoid the low bone mineral density that eventually leads to osteoporosis. And your smile doesn’t have to suffer, either. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, tooth remineralization is more than possible with a diet high in minerals and fat-soluble vitamins .
So, I guess the question is this: why wouldn’t you pay more attention to vitamin K? I’m sure glad I found out about it!
To highlight the vast actions of vitamin K, here are some other cool things it does:
1. It may have a role in preventing and/or treating Alzheimer’s Disease 
2. It’s being evaluated as a new treatment for lung cancer 
3. It suppresses cancerous cell growth in the liver 
Okay, now that I know how important it is, where on earth can I find it?
According to Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, vitamin K is found in
organ meats (such as liver),
full fat cheese,
fats from healthy animals,
properly-prepared grains (soaked or fermented),
dark leafy vegetables,
vegetables of the cabbage family,
fermented soy foods (like miso or natto),
and other fermented foods (sauerkraut, fermented carrots, real fermented pickles, et cetera)  .
However, our mineral-deficient soil and commonly malnourished animals can’t always produce products concentrated with significant amounts of vitamin K.
So, it’s important to seek out high quality food if you want to benefit nutritionally.
If you can’t get your hands on quality organ meats, dairy, or fats from healthy, properly-fed, happy animals, I recommend finding your vitamin K in vegetable greens, fermented vegetables, and natto. If you find that you can’t take the texture and taste of natto (like many), there are natto supplements that you could invest in.
Our family takes this supplement along with our grass-fed raw dairy, organ meats, animal fats, and ferments. Please note that if you are on a blood-thinning medication such as Warfarin, vitamin K will negate the effectiveness of your medication. That and other drug interactions can be further specified here.
Back to my story…
After making some dietary changes (more on this in a later post) and increasing my vitamin K intake, my teeth recovered quickly. It took about 1.5-2 months. The first change I noticed is that the yellowness between my teeth had disappeared and they no longer feel like they’re crumbling. The dark spots have lightened, they’re not as sensitive, and I’ve even noticed significant whitening.
What a relief! Now…on with the breastfeeding we go!
Disclaimer: All information on this blog is for informational purposes only. I am not a licensed medical professional. Please discuss any dietary changes, supplements, or medical questions with your doctor.
Diane Stanislowski is a wife, mother, and researcher with the goal of restoring the practice of traditional holistic approaches to wellness and sharing evidence-based information with the public.
She lives in Grand Forks North Dakota with her husband and daughter Jane, and receives raw milk and pastured meats from Bartlett Farms.
 Fallon, Sally, Mary G. Enig, Kim Murray, and Marion Dearth. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. Brandywine, MD: NewTrends Pub, 2001. Print.
 Campbell-McBride, Natasha. Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia. 2nd ed. Cambridge, U.K.: Medinform Pub., 2010. Print.