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Do you know what the leading cause of death is?

Most of us think it is heart disease, cancer, diabetes, a stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney disease or chronic lower respiratory disease, in that order. But they are simply symptoms.

The leading cause of death is chronic inflammation, because that’s what causes all of the above.

At the time of his death, it was said that former President Theodore Roosevelt died of a heart attack. He did, but that was a result of his real disease, which was chronic inflammation.

After running as a member of the Independent Party in the 1918 presidential election and losing, Roosevelt, as he usually did whenever he failed at something, decided to challenge himself by going on an ill-prepared South American expedition to explore a previously unknown river.

During that lengthy trip, Roosevelt banged his leg against a rock on the river’s bank, bruised it, cut it and it became infected. In fact, it never did heal properly, ever, and it caused chronic inflammation for the rest of Roosevelt’s life and eventually led to his death.

So if you wake up every morning with lower back pain or some other inflammation, beware, because you might just be suffering from America’s No. 1 killer.

That brings us to a discussion about a vitamin that nobody ever seems to talk about and one that might just save your life.

In fact, if they were to hold a vitamin beauty contest it’d probably be vitamins A, B and C that’d finish on top and this other vitamin wouldn’t even be mentioned.

And what is the vitamin? It is Vitamin K2.

If you consult with members of the medical community, they might try to treat your inflammation with anti-inflammatory drugs that, in the end, when it comes to your kidney, is a little like putting cement in your gas tank, at least according to the National Kidney Foundation.

What should be suggested is that you take a vitamin supplement heavy in Vitamin K2 or eat the foods that’ll deliver the same thing.

Kate Rheaume-Bleue, a naturopathic physician, estimates that about 80 percent of us don’t get enough Vitamin K2 in our diet and that it leaves us vulnerable to any number of chronic diseases.

Now, the foods that you need to eat in order to get an ample supply of Vitamin K2 includes Natto, hard cheese, soft cheese, egg yolk, butter, chicken liver, salami, chicken breast and ground beef. Of course, we’ve been told that most of those are bad for us.

Then again, the foods that promote inflammation are trans-fats or hydrogenated oils, sugars, refined carbohydrates, gluten-containing foods, and additives and preservatives hidden in processed foods.

Thus the moral of this story is this: Your body is all you’ve got. So heed the warnings of inflammation, because it can be an early warning system, or a killer in the end.

Kevin Holten is the executive producer of "Special Cowboy Moments" on RFD-TV.