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Vitamin K may improve memory performance in the elderly

October 16, 2013

According to a new Canadian study, increased vitamin K1 blood concentrations seem to be linked to better verbal episodic memory performances in seniors.

The observational study measured serum vitamin K1 concentrations and cognitive functions of 320 men and women aged between 70 to 85 years who were free of cognitive impairment (1). The study results showed that participants with higher vitamin K concentrations showed better verbal episodic memory performances based on recall tasks, compared to participants with lower blood levels. No associations were found with non-verbal episodic memory, executive functions (e.g., planning, working memory, attention and problem solving) and speed of processing.

The researchers commented that these findings add evidence to the possible role of vitamin K in cognition during aging, specifically in the consolidation of the memory trace. They emphasized the need to consider vitamin K as a nutritional factor of cognitive health in the aging population. Vitamin K1 is the main vitamin K form in the diet and available data indicates that other forms such as K2 would not significantly contribute to the vitamin K status. Experimental studies have shown that vitamin K is involved in the production of proteins of the central nervous system which are known to possess neuroprotective effects and regulate nerve cell growth (2). In addition, vitamin K participates in the metabolism of sphingolipids; a major constituent of the isolating myelin sheath and neuronal membranes, which are also involved in cell signaling processes.

References

1. Presse N. et al. Vitamin K status and cognitive function in healthy older adults. Neurobiology of Aging. 2013; 34(12):2777–2783. 2. Bourre J. M. Effects of nutrients (in food) on the structure and function of the nervous system: update on dietary requirements for brain. Part 1: micronutrients. J Nutr Health Aging. 2006; 10(5):377–385.