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Natto is the way to go!

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As you know, Mike, it's very tricky trying to extrapolate from animals to humans when it comes to anything in medicine. And the further away evolutionarily the animal is, the more fraught it gets. Personally, I barely pay attention to studies done in rats/mice, and pretty much instantly dismiss things in flies, worms or yeast.

Natto seems quite interesting, but so are a ton of other things. Trying to fit all of them into a diet is really not possible, so you have to pick and choose. It may seem a very small caloric price for a bit of natto daily, but when you count everything else, it all adds up and before you know you'd be consuming thousands of calories. And that's saying nothing about how all of these interact. Which is why the only solution is personalized medicine, as that would guide your priorities list.



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My biotin intake is low according to CR. I was not convinced that this is necessarily true as even though I use mostly the large government databases, only non-fortified brewer's yeast and nutritional yeast, plus banana, are listed as sources.  Since I am effectively vegan, eggs are not a great source for me.

So, I was thinking that natto must contain some biotin, even though it's not listed, and I did a search.  Yep, I was right 🙂  Natto is a source of biotin, even though NCCDB doesn't list it.

But there is an interesting wrinkle here, of which I was not aware.  The best natto for biotin, and possibly for k2-7, is Hikiwari natto, which is made from crushed soybeans.  I guess they are more easily digestible, likely for both humans and bacteria.  I haven't seen hikiwari natto for sale around me, but I guess I will ask.

Wide Range of Biotin (Vitamin H) Content in Foodstuffs and Powdered Milks as Assessed by High-performance Affinity Chromatography



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I decided to give nattokinase supplementation a try, best bang for buck was bulk powder.  I like the reviews and the studies I’ve read. I can confirm that this particular bulk powder smells and tastes like the stringy snot stuff from the actual natto carton products, which is a good sign as far as I’m concerned since that’s where the nattokinase is in natto, and this may indicate the product is legit. I’m going with 1/8 teaspoon AKA a “pinch”, before bed and in the morning, which according to my milligram scale is about 110mg x2 or about 4,000 FU (fibrinolytic units).

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Ugh, Gordo. BulkSupplements is a good vendor and I buy several of their products (f.ex. grape seed extract, green tea extract etc.). However, I try to buy their capsules, not plain bulk powder. I hate measuring and fussing and it's always messy and I worry about freshness exposure and so on. I wish it was in capsules, but alas, so instead I bought my NK from Jarrow Formulas

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You can get an 1/8 teaspoon or “pinch” spoon which makes it easy, level it by scraping spoon against side of bag and it’s not too bad. Comes in resealable bag that is small, I’m keeping it in the fridge.  I like Jarrow too though.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 8/2/2020 at 6:13 AM, Dean Pomerleau said:

But given my strategy of minimizing shopping trips during these crazy times, I'm considering culturing my own natto again. I'll let everyone know if I do. 

I'm back here to report on my natto culturing experiment.

I regularly buy dried soybeans from nuts.com, although you can get them cheaper (i.e. $0.02/oz) on Amazon.  Since they double in weight when cooked, that is about 2 cents worth of soybeans for the equivalent of a 50g styrofoam container of natto.

Obviously the key ingredient is the natto spores. I bought 10g worth of spores for ~$3.25 on ebay. They took about 3 weeks to arrive (from China), hence the delay in my update.

As can be seen below, the spores come in 10 1-gram sleeves, which is really nice since it doesn't take much spore to culture a batch.


The soybeans cook like other dried beans, taking about 1.5 hours on a low simmer until they are softened. Like the other legumes I eat, I cook a big batch and freeze them in individual 500g freezer bags for later combination into my starch mix. To make my first batch of natto, I took ~50g of frozen soybeans and thawed them in the microwave for about a minute. Then I spread them into a thin layer in a rectangular (6"x2.5") glass dish, as shown here:


I then brought about 2 tsp of water to a boil and then poured about 1/4 of the contents of one of the 1-gram sleeves of natto spores into the water, stirring until the spores dissolve. As I said, it doesn't take much. Even that much of the spores was probably overkill for the amount of natto I was making.

Then I poured the spore water over the beans, stirred them around to make sure they were all moistened and then flattened the beans again in the glass dish. Then I covered the dish with a sheet of plastic wrap with a few holes poked in it:


Next I put the dish on top of the metal disk shown above, which I in turn placed on top of a Salton mug warmer I've had for many years, shown below:


I determined through a little experimentation that the metal disk acts as enough of a heat sink for the cup warmer so as to keep the glass disk on top at ~105degF, which is close to the optimal temperature for culturing natto.

I then covered the dish with a clean dish towel, as shown below and left it to ferment:


24 hours later, it worked! Here is end result, nice and slimy natto. 🙂


I then stored the natto in the fridge overnight before eating (as recommended in these instructions). I'm happy to report it tastes and smells like the store-bought natto.

Next time I'll probably scale up to make 100g at a time using a dinner plate rather than the glass dish to hold more beans.

Eating ~25g/day, I estimate these supplied should last months and cost a couple pennies per serving.


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Brilliant! Well Dean, this looks so enticing I might not be able to resist and have to plunge in myself... I already make my own kefir, the advantage of that is the keffir grains seem to last a lifetime - I bought a kefir making kit from Amazon about 10 years ago that came with two packets of grains... and I'm still on the first package!

But how far can one go with all this? Folks here grow their own mushrooms too, and who can forget Dean's extensive garden! Btw. Dean are you still going strong with your garden veggies?

Then there's the traditional stuff like making your own sauerkraut cabbage, pickled cucumbers, wine and so on. Pretty soon you're doing nothing but growing/building your own food :) 

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  • 3 months later...

Some exposures are just plain much more risky than others - if you have a bunch of liquid touching a flexible plastic, it ISN'T a good thing. Also if it's encased in plastic, it's also NOT a good thing. Vegetables touching plastic polyethylene bags I'm less concerned about.

That plastic kind of looks like the plastic that's used in potato chips, and those have been associated with MASSIVE microplastic contamination

Edited by InquilineKea
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  • 8 months later...

Mike Lustgarten's post about vitamin K1 & K2 triggered me to look up recent studies on natto. I came across this one [1]. While small (17 subjects) and only a conference paper (i.e. not yet peer-reviewed and published in a journal), it looks pretty well conducted from the abstract. In a randomized, double-blind, Placebo-Controlled trial of 17 obese, diabetic women, a few months of eating concentrated natto (in pill form) lead to lower fasting glucose and insulin, and well as better insulin sensitivity. Another small study [2] found feeding people natto with rice for two weeks improved their insulin sensitivity compared with feeding them rice with boiled soybeans (i.e. without natto fermentation). 

So it is possible that natto is helpful for glucose metabolism, in addition to its heart, brain and bone benefits.

I've dialed in my homemade natto recipe (see above), and now eat about 10g per day along with with ~50mg of the bulk natto powder Gordo discusses above. 



[1] J Endocr Soc. 2020 May 8; 4(Suppl 1): SAT-618.
Published online 2020 May 8. doi: 10.1210/jendso/bvaa046.145
PMCID: PMC7208925

SAT-618 Nattokinase to Improve Insulin Sensitivity and Weight Loss in Women with Obesity +/- Diabetes

Leopoldo M Cobos, MD,1 Yanira Sanchez-De La Torre, MD,2 Karen L Herbst, MD, PhD,1 and Karen Beltran, MD1


Background: Diabetes (DM) and obesity are related health issues which are increasing in prevalence. But not all obesity is related to DM. Women suffering from Lipedema are categorized as gynoid obese. Nattokinase (Natto) is an enzyme supplement that has been shown to degrade fibrin. Patients with obesity tend to have elevated clotting factors which can lead to adipose tissue hypoxia, impaired insulin signaling, and lead to insulin resistance. Research in fat disorders noted that fat biopsies from women with Lipedema likely had micro-clots, and patients with Lipedema treated with Natto reported a decrease in clothing size and fat distribution. Objective: Determine the effect of Natto on participants with Obesity and DM and in patients with Lipedema without DM. Materials and Methods: Group 1: Involved subjects with Obesity and DM. This was a double blinded, randomized controlled clinical trial over 3 months. A total of 17 female patients were recruited from a rural clinic. Nine received Natto 2,000 FU daily and eight received an identical placebo capsule daily. Fasting labs, questionnaires, bioimpedance, and anthropometric measurements were completed at Baseline and 3 months. Group 2: 42 women with Lipedema seen at a Fat Disorder Clinic. 21 received Natto and 21 did not. We compared for weight only from the day Nattokinase was started until follow-up, which varied from 4 months to 1 year 8 months. Results: Group 1: After 3 months, there was no difference in weight loss in both groups. Per Bioimpedance, more subjects lost water weight in the Natto group (63%) compared to Placebo (33%). More subjects in the Natto group had a decrease in HbA1c (43%) compared to Placebo (22%), with average decrease in the Natto group of 0.9%. Also, more subjects in the Natto group had lower fasting insulin levels (75% vs 22%), lower fasting glucose level (50% vs 22%) and lower HOMA index (63% vs 22%). Group 2: 57% of patients in the Natto group lost weight compared to only 33% of patients not on Natto. Conclusions: In participants with obesity and DM, regardless of weight loss, metabolic health improved after taking Natto for 3 months. Higher percentage of subjects in the treated group had improved HbA1c, fasting Insulin, glucose, and HOMA score. We hypothesize that if treatment time was beyond 3 months, further metabolic improvement would be noted, indicating that Natto could have potential as an adjunct to DM care. The difference in weight loss between Metabolic Obesity and Lipedema reflects the difference in adipose tissue, likely differing in etiology and pathophysiology. Further studies are needed to evaluate long term benefits of Natto, including larger and longer randomized controlled trials, and assessment of clotting factors.


[2] Br J Nutr. 2012 Apr;107(8):1184-91. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511004156. Epub 2011 

Sep 7.

Natto and viscous vegetables in a Japanese-style breakfast improved insulin 
sensitivity, lipid metabolism and oxidative stress in overweight subjects with 
impaired glucose tolerance.

Taniguchi-Fukatsu A(1), Yamanaka-Okumura H, Naniwa-Kuroki Y, Nishida Y, Yamamoto 
H, Taketani Y, Takeda E.

Author information:
(1)Department of Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Health Biosciences, University 
of Tokushima Graduate School, 3-18-15 Kuramoto, Tokushima 770-8503, Japan.

Erratum in
    Br J Nutr. 2013 Oct;110(7):1356.

We previously suggested that the consumption of natto and viscous vegetables as 
part of a Japanese-style meal based on white rice (WR) reduced postprandial 
glucose and insulin levels in healthy subjects. The aim of the present study was 
to assess whether a single breakfast of natto and viscous vegetables or the same 
breakfast consumed for 2 weeks could improve glucose control, insulin 
sensitivity, lipid metabolism and oxidative stress in overweight subjects with 
impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). A total of eleven free-living subjects with 
IGT followed a randomised, crossover breakfast intervention for 2 weeks. The 
test meal included boiled WR with natto (viscous fermented soyabeans), Japanese 
yam and okra. The control meal included WR with non-viscous boiled soyabeans, 
potatoes and broccoli. Both meals contained comparable amounts of carbohydrate, 
fat, protein and fibre. The test meal reduced acute glucose and insulin 
responses compared to the control meal in the study participants
. Insulin 
sensitivity was assessed using the composite insulin sensitivity index (CISI) 
after both the test and control meal periods. The test meal resulted in 
improvements in CISI compared to the baseline, whereas no significant changes 
were observed after the control meal period. Serum levels of both total and 
LDL-cholesterol were assessed before and after the test meal period and found to 
decrease significant
ly. There was also a tendency towards reduced serum 
malondialdehyde-modified LDL and N(ɛ)-carboxymethyllysine. No differences were 
observed in the measures of chronic glycaemic control. Thus, we conclude that a 
breakfast of natto and viscous vegetables consumed for 2 weeks improves insulin 
sensitivity, serum lipid and oxidative stress.

DOI: 10.1017/S0007114511004156
PMID: 21899797 [Indexed for MEDLINE]


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  • 10 months later...
On 8/20/2021 at 2:33 PM, Dean Pomerleau said:

I've dialed in my homemade natto recipe (see above), and now eat about 10g per day along with with ~50mg of the bulk natto powder Gordo discusses above

Why do you eat the natto powder if you have homemade and fresh? 

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On 8/16/2020 at 8:39 PM, Ron Put said:

natto must contain some biotin, even though it's not listed, and I did a search.  Yep, I was right

I found this research from Japan that says Natto has a high biotin content but uptake is ~5% based on table 2 in the study from the International Journal of Analytical Bio-Science, 2014


I am vegan.  Cronometer says I get 1.2mg but it's prolly off and this doesn't take into account amount vs uptake.

Am I reading this correctly? the data from table 2, which analyzed the uptake of biotin, shows uptake from vegan sources is so tiny  it is impossible to get "enough" as a vegan without taking supplements  

Any thoughts?  


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On 8/16/2020 at 7:13 PM, Gordo said:

I decided to give nattokinase supplementation a try, best bang for buck was bulk powder.

I have been buying a different brand, mainly because it's cheaper and organic:



On 6/30/2022 at 8:39 AM, 0ari said:

Am I reading this correctly? the data from table 2, which analyzed the uptake of biotin, shows uptake from vegan sources is so tiny  it is impossible to get "enough" as a vegan without taking supplements  

Any thoughts?  

I wouldn't worry too much, as I've seen no evidence that vegans are deficient:


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  • 6 months later...

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