Low vitamin K linked to cognitive impairment in elderly cohort

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - coffeekai
©Getty Images - coffeekai

Related tags Vitamin k2 Vitamin k Cognitive decline cardiovascular health Osteoporosis Bone mineral density cognitive impairment cognitive performance

A new study has linked low Vitamin K status to cognitive impairment among subjects housed in elder care facilities.

The new study was published in the journal Frontiers of Nutrition​.  It was the work of researchers associated with the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology.

Novel biomarker

The authors used a novel mechanism to assess vitamin K status.  They hit upon measuring the concentration of undercarboxylated osteocalcin (ucOC) in serum, which is a biomarker for vitamin K insufficiency.

To investigate the effects of vitamin K insufficiency as measured by ucOC on cognitive function, they assembled a study cohort of 800 older adults with a mean age of about 76 who were living in elder care facilities.  The subjects had their blood drawn for analysis and also were subjected to a so-called Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).

The Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE)​ is a widely used test of cognitive function among the elderly; it includes tests of orientation, attention, memory, language and visual-spatial skills.  It yields scores that are corrected for a participants educational level.

The test has standard questions that range from asking the day’s date to recalling simple lists of objects and spelling words backwards. 

The researchers found the lowest tertile for vitamin K status was associated with impaired orientation, calculation, and language.  The research also further suggested that low vitamin K status might inhibit some cognitive functions, but perhaps not all.

As far as we know, this is the first report on the significant association of single ucOC measurement and cognitive impairment. Our analysis also suggests that vitamin K insufficiency could be associated with selected categories of cognitive function. Since the single measurement of ucOC in serum is a simple and widely available method for vitamin K evaluation, it could be useful as a biomarker of neurodegenerative diseases affecting the cognitive functions,” ​the researchers said.

Welcome news for K2 space

Vitamin K2 supplier Gnosis by Lesaffre, which supplies the branded ingredient MenaQ7, said the findings would be of interest to all suppliers of K2.  

“We welcome the publication of this study correlating Vitamin K status with cognitive health outcomes.  This paper adds to the body of evidence linking vitamin K-status not only to bone health and heart health, but also intervention studies for kidney health and kids health, and population studies looking at lung, eye, nerve,  and cellular health,”​ said Eric Anderson, a marketing executive with the company.

“Vitamin K2 as Mk-7 has been shown to be the most effective supplemental form to boost the benefits of all forms of vitamin K.  Gnosis by Lesaffre is continuing this work with additional supplement studies in cardiovascular and peripheral arterial health, for example.  We encourage academia, and especially other vitamin K2 suppliers, to sponsor research to build the understanding of the benefits of vitamin K2,”​ he added.

Source: Frontiers in Nutrition
doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.811831
Association of Vitamin K Insufficiency With Cognitive Dysfunction in Community-Dwelling Older Adults
Authors: Azuma K, et al

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