Vitamin K improves brain cognition in rats, study finds


Results of a recent study on rats suggested that vitamin K could help prevent age-related cognitive decline associated with dementia.

The study was led by Mohamed El-Sherbiny, PhD, of AlMaarefa University in Saudi Arabia, and presented by El-Sherbiny at the 2022 American Association for Anatomy Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. The study aimed to study the brain function effects of vitamin K, a group of compounds including K1, found in leafy greens and some vegetables and K2, found in cheeses and meats. To do so, scientists gave 3-month-old rats a form of vitamin K2 known as menaquinone-7 (MK-7) for 17 months. Researchers then compared the cognition of the rats given MK-7 with rats of the same age that were given no vitamin K. The tests involved a maze, swim assessments, and sociability tests that measured the rats’ brain function, depression, and anxiety.

The study’s results showed rats given MK-7 performed better on the cognitive tests than rats that were not given MK-7. Researchers found pathways associated with proteins NLRP3, caspase-1, and Nrf-2, all involved in inflammation and antioxidant activity, were affected by the vitamin K supplement. In addition, the expression of an amino acid that helps prevent cognitive decline, appeared to be enhanced by the supplement, according to researchers.

“Vitamin K2 demonstrated very promising impact in hindering aging-related behavioral, functional, biochemical, and histopathological changes in the senile aging brain,” said El-Sherbiny. “Vitamin K2 can be proposed to be a promising approach to attenuate age-related disorders and preserve cognitive functions in aging individuals.”

Although the study showed promising results for vitamin K’s affect on cognition, researchers warned that more research is needed to determine how effective the supplement is for human cognition as well as guidelines on the optimal sources of vitamin K and dosing.