By Sally Fallon Morell and Mary G. Enig, PhD
Excerpt from Nourishing Traditions, 1999
IMPORTANT UPDATE, SPRING 2007:
Price’s “X Factor” or “Activator X” is now believed to be the fat-soluble vitamin K2.
Please follow the link to read Chris Masterjohn’s article on the Weston A. Price Foundation site to learn how this sixty-year-old mystery was finally solved!
Dr. Weston A. Price, a Cleveland dentist, has been called the “Charles Darwin of Nutrition.” In his search for the causes of dental decay and physical degeneration that he observed in his dental practice, he turned from test tubes and microscopes to the evidence supplied by human beings. Dr. Price sought the factors responsible for fine teeth among the people who had them —the isolated “primitives.” The world became his laboratory. As he traveled, his findings led him to the belief that dental caries and deformed dental arches resulting in crowded, crooked teeth and unattractive appearance were a sign of physical degeneration, resulting from what he had suspected —nutritional deficiencies.
Price travelled the world over in order to study isolated human groups, including sequestered villages in Switzerland, Gaelic communities in the Outer Hebrides, Eskimos and Indians of North America, Melanesian and Polynesian South Sea Islanders, African tribes, Australian Aborigines, New Zealand Maori and the Indians of South America. Wherever he went, Dr. Price found that beautiful straight teeth, freedom from decay, stalwart bodies, resistance to disease and fine characters were typical of primitives on their traditional diets, rich in essential food factors.
When Dr. Price analyzed the foods used by isolated primitive peoples he found that they provided at least four times the water soluble vitamins, calcium and other minerals, and at least TEN times the fat soluble vitamins —vitamin A and vitamin D —from animal foods such as fish eggs, shellfish, organ meats and butter from cows eating green grass.
Dr. Price discovered an additional fat soluble vitamin that he called “Activator X” and which was also referred to by others as the Price Factor or X Factor, and is now believed to be vitamin K2. It is a powerful catalyst which, like vitamins A and D, helps the body absorb and utilize minerals. It was present in the diets of all the healthy population groups he studied but unfortunately has almost completely disappeared from the modern western diet. Sources include organ meats from cows eating green grass, fish eggs and shellfish. Butter can be an especially rich source of Activator X/vitamin K2 when it comes from cows eating rapidly growing grass in the Spring and Fall seasons. It disappears in cows fed cottonseed meal or high protein soy-based feeds. Fortunately, Activator X/vitamin K2 is not destroyed by pasteurization.
The importance of good nutrition for mothers during pregnancy has long been recognized, but Dr. Price’s investigation showed that primitives understood and practiced preconception nutritional programs for BOTH parents. Many tribes required a period of premarital nutrition, and children were spaced to permit the mother to maintain her full health and strength, thus assuring physical excellence to subsequent offspring. Special foods were often given to pregnant and lactating women, as well as to the maturing boys and girls, in preparation for future parenthood. Dr. Price found these foods to be very rich in fat soluble vitamins A, vitamin D and Activator X —nutrients found only in animal fats.
These primitives with their fine bodies, homogeneous reproduction, emotional stability and freedom from degenerative ills stand forth in sharp contrast to those subsisting on the impoverished foods of civilization —sugar, white flour, pasteurized lowfat milk and convenience foods filled with extenders and additives.
The discoveries and conclusion of Dr. Price are presented in his classic volume Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. The book contains striking photographs of handsome, healthy primitives and illustrates in an unforgettable way the physical degeneration that occurs when human groups abandon nourishing traditional diets in favor of modern convenience foods.
From Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, by Sally Fallon Morell and Mary G Enig, PhD. Available from NewTrends Publishing, (877) 707-1776.
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price is now available from Radiant Life (888) 593-8333.
I have been buying raw milk exclusively for my children the past year from a heritage cows grass fed farmer. It just dawned on me that maybe my kids aren’t getting vitamin d since it is not added to the milkI got very concerned and tried to do some research on this site but nothing in the f&q was about vitamin d. Can anyone give me some good info about vit d and raw milk and if I should be supplementing with additional D? Ugh, I wouldn’t even know how much to give my kids, debating weather to go back to the pasteurized milk.
Sally Fallon Morell replies: There will be vitamin D in whole milk from pastured cows, but better sources are butter, egg yolks, lard, poultry liver and cod liver oil. These should all be included in the diet of your children.
You can get good and useful D3 from raw milk – but pasteurization destroys it. It is replaced, but I am unsure if D2 or D3 is used. This: https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/abcs-of-nutrition/vitamin-a-on-trial-does-vitamin-a-cause-osteoporosis/#appendix1
very good article, says the actual amount of vitamin D needed is pretty high; so you need sunlight, too. It points out, however, that without adequate vitamin A, it causes liver damage. Weston Price pointed out that sunlight alone wasn’t sufficient to ward off some conditions.
The real reason to prefer raw milk, is that pasteurization destroys too many other good nutrients. It destroys immunoglobulins which can confer immunity to the things cows are immune to. It destroys vitamin C in milk (yes, it’s supposed to be in there). Modern studies on milk associate its use with an increased risk of cancer. Price pointed out cancer was virtually unknown among indigenous, isolated communities drinking milk, which was certainly, at the time, raw. Price knew of about eight factors present in vitamin D, if memory serves.
I keep hearing so much about grass fed being extra helpful for CLA and X factor and nutrients, but what about during the winter months when that is unavailable? It seems like the only studies available that I’ve found are grass fed being compared to grains and silage or soybean, etc. We only use organic alfalfa. Do you know where any studies are that compare the nutrients of raw milk from grass fed vs alfalfa? Thank you!
Sally Fallon Morell replies:
I don’t know of any studies. Usually farmers give some alfalfa in the winter because it helps the cow produce more milk