Research is starting to reveal which nutrients are helpful when it comes to defending against brain-related declines associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. A new laboratory study conducted on rats in Saudi Arabia shows the benefits of vitamin K when it comes to protecting the brain against age-related structural and cognitive deterioration.
Scientists from AlMaarefa University recently presented their findings on the subject in the Experimental Biology potion of the American Association for Anatomy annual meeting in Philadelphia.
Dementia is a form of cognitive impairment that is not to be confused with the normal memory lapses that come with aging. It interferes with the daily life of its sufferers and one of the most common types of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. There are approximately 6 million people afflicted with that ailment in the U.S.
"Vitamin K2 demonstrated very promising impact in hindering aging-related behavioral, functional, biochemical and histopathological changes in the senile aging brain," said Mohamed El-Sherbiny, Ph.D., the study's senior author. "Vitamin K2 can be proposed to be a promising approach to attenuate age-related disorders and preserve cognitive functions in aging individuals."
Vitamin K is a group of compounds including K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 is commonly found in leafy greens and other vegetables, while vitamin K2 is found in meats, cheeses and eggs. Some previous studies have explored with link between vitamin K and brain functioning, while other studies have found a correlation between a deficiency in vitamin K and forms of dementia.
Researchers worked with a group of mature rats for a total of 17 months. Some were given vitamin K2 while the others were not. The rats were given a series of tests, including a maze test, a swim test and a sociability test to determine their level of cognitive functioning as well as their anxiety behavior and depressive-like symptoms.
The rats that received the vitamin K performed better than those who did not have their diet supplemented. The vitamin K rats displayed reduced evidence of cognitive impairment, depression and anxiety. They also had improved spatial memory and learning ability.
At the study’s conclusion the brains of the rats were examined to see if there was any visible difference between those given the supplement and those that did not receive it. The results suggest vitamin K is instrumental in impacting the pathways involved in inflammation and antioxidant activity. It also appeared to promote the expression of a certain amino acid (tyrosine) that is associated with the preservation of cognitive function.
"Further clinical studies will be required to assess the appropriate dosage for protection against Alzheimer's, especially in those treated with vitamin K antagonists," said El-Sherbiny.