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Brain from wooden puzzles. Mental Health and problems with memory.


New evidence draws an association between Vitamin K insufficiency and cognitive dysfunction, further argument for the potential of Vitamin K2.



MARCQ-EN-BAROEUL, FRANCE, AND EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ (26 APRIL 2022)Frontiers in Nutrition published a new large-population cross-sectional study that demonstrated the association of vitamin K insufficiency with cognitive function. 


In the study, “Association of Vitamin K Insufficiency with Cognitive Dysfunction in Community-Dwelling Older Adults”[1], Japanese researchers enrolled a total of 800 community-dwelling older adults (mean age = 75.9) and conducted a geriatric health examination, including a Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and a blood test. Examining the concentration of undercarboxylated osteocalcin (ucOC) in serum, which is a biomarker for vitamin K insufficiency, they demonstrated the association of the concentration of undercarboxylated osteocalcin (ucOC) in serum, which is a biomarker for vitamin K insufficiency, with cognitive function. By using binary logistic regression analysis, the risk of cognitive impairment equivalent or below the mild cognitive impairment level for each tertile of ucOC was examined, with the lowest tertile as the reference.  


The results showed a significant association of impaired cognitive function and concentration of ucOC in the highest tertile of ucOC, with the odds ratio of 1.65 (95% CI, 1.06 to 2.59, P = 0.028). When the analysis was repeated with each domain of MMSE score*, the highest tertile of ucOC was associated with impaired orientation, calculation, and language.  


The finding of the present study was in line with the previous epidemiological studies, showing that lower vitamin K intake is associated with cognitive impairment. The researchers reported, “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.” 


These results are supported by another recently published paper from Spain[2] that assessed two years of changes in dietary K intake with cognitive function measured through neuropsychological performance tests. The researchers concluded that “An increase of the intake of dietary vitamin K was associated with better cognitive function scores, independently of recognized risk factors for cognitive decline, in an older adult Mediterranean population with high cardiovascular risk.” 


While the Japanese study examined “vitamin K,” there are several studies that showed that MenaQ7® Vitamin K2 as MK-7 improved K status as measured by ucOC, and these were done in healthy adult and child populations.[3,4]  


“We have worked with world-renowned researchers – as NattoPharma and that work continues at Gnosis by Lesaffre – to confirm the safe and effective health benefits of MenaQ7 Vitamin K2 as MK-7. Elucidating the important mechanism of activating K-dependent proteins, including osteocalcin and Matrix Gla protein (MGP), was a foundational piece of that work,” explains Dr. Hogne Vik, chief medical officer with Gnosis by Lesaffre, who referenced an important 2021 US-based review paper highlighting Vitamin K2 as a potential strategy for Alzheimer’s disease.[5] “Based on our research and the critical work that continues, we can hypothesize that K2 supplementation could prove beneficial in the brain development of children and support healthy brain function in adults.”  


Dr. Vik also noted that while Vitamin K2 as MK-4 has been noted as the main form of vitamin K in the brain, “it is important to mention that in-vivo research supports that supplementation with K2 as MK-7 increases MK-4 content in the brain tissue,” he concluded.  


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1 Azuma K et al. Association of Vitamin K Insufficiency With Cognitive Dysfunction in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. Front. Nutr. (2022) 8:811831. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.811831 

2 Camacho-Barcia L et al. Vitamin K dietary intake is associated with cognitive function in an older adult 

Mediterranean population. Age Ageing. 2022 Feb 2;51(2):afab246. Doi: 10.1093/ageing/afab246. 

3 Knapen MHJ et al. Three-year low-dose menaquinone-7 supplementation helps decrease bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women. Osteoporos Int. 2013 Sep;24(9):2499-507. doi: 10.1007/s00198-013-2325-6. Epub 2013 Mar 23. PMID: 23525894. 

4 Theuwissen E et al. Vitamin K status in healthy volunteers. Food Funct. 2014 Feb;5(2):229-34. doi: 10.1039/c3fo60464k. PMID: 24296867. 

5 Popescu A and German M. “Vitamin K2 Holds Promise for Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment.” Nutrients. 2021,13,2206. 



* Explanation of MMSE: The maximum MMSE score is 30 points. A score of 20 to 24 suggests mild dementia, 13 to 20 suggests moderate dementia, and less than 12 indicates severe dementia. On average, the MMSE score of a person with Alzheimer’s declines about 2 to 4 points each year. 



About Gnosis by Lesaffre 


Gnosis by Lesaffre harnesses the power of microorganisms and biotransformation processes like fermentation to cultivate nutritional actives, probiotics, and nutritional and functional yeasts that benefit human health and wellbeing. The team draws on its focused research and applications capabilities to collaborate with nutraceutical and pharmaceutical brands to develop game-changing products for their customers. 


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Kate Quackenbush, Communications Director,, +1 609-454-2992 x220