It’s not Vitamin D That Keeps Your Brain 11 Years ‘Younger’ and Wards Off Dementia

    Our bodies and health change every second, of course, so many of us want to know what we can expect in the years and decades ahead.

    Worryingly, statistics and basic observation indicate that many elderly individuals are fragile, unwell, and reliant.

    One of the most common concerns for people as they age is the loss of their memory or cognitive ability.

    As cognitive decline is central to Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, increasing your intake of Vitamin K could be an inexpensive, non-invasive and simple way to possibly protect your brain from these diseases.

    Over the course of five years, the researchers looked at the diets and cognitive abilities of more than 950 older people. They found that those who ate more green leafy vegetables had a lower rate of cognitive decline. People who took one to two servings per day had the cognitive abilities of someone 11 years younger than those who did not consume any.

    When the researchers looked at specific nutrients linked to decreasing cognitive decline, they discovered that vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene were all likely contributing to keeping the brain healthy.

    According to lead author Martha Clare Morris, “No other studies have looked at vitamin K in relation to change in cognitive abilities over time, and only a limited number of studies have found some association with lutein.”

    Other studies have linked folate and beta-carotene consumption to slower cognitive deterioration.

    Morris’ research team used data from 954 individuals in the Memory and Aging Project to perform the study, which aims to discover characteristics linked to cognitive health maintenance. At the start of the trial, the participants, who were on average 81 years old, filled out a detailed 144-item questionnaire about their daily food and beverage intake. The total daily nutrients were calculated by multiplying the nutritional value of each food consumed by the number of servings ingested each day. When estimating the effects of diet on cognitive decline, they followed participants for 2 to 10 years, assessing cognition annually with a comprehensive battery of 19 tests and adjusting for age, sex, education, smoking, genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, and participation in physical activities.

    “With baby boomers approaching old age, there is huge public demand for lifestyle behaviors that can ward off loss of memory and other cognitive abilities with age,” added Morris.

    Morris’s “study provides evidence that eating green leafy vegetables and other foods rich in vitamin K, lutein and beta-carotene can help to keep the brain healthy to preserve functioning.”

    Brightly colored fruits and vegetables, in addition to green leafy vegetables, are good sources of vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene.

    According to another study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, low levels of circulating vitamin K are associated with an increased risk of mobility limitation and disability in older adults, indicating a new factor to consider when attempting to maintain mobility and independence in later life.

    When compared to individuals with adequate levels of circulating vitamin K, older adults with low levels were about 1.5 times more likely to develop mobility limitations and nearly twice as likely to develop mobility handicaps. Both men and women were affected in this way.

    Vitamin K levels in the blood reflect the quantity of vitamin K consumed in the diet. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli, as well as some dairy products, are good sources of vitamin K. One cup of raw spinach has 145 micrograms (mcg), or 181 percent of the Daily Value; one cup of raw kale contains 113 mcg, or 141 percent; and half a cup of chopped cooked broccoli contains 110 mcg, or 138 percent of the Daily Value.

    Image Credit: Getty

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