Vitamin K and brain function

Semin Thromb Hemost. 2013 Nov;39(8):849-55. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1357481. Epub 2013 Oct 9.


One of the fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin K was initially discovered for its role in blood coagulation. Although several vitamin K-dependent hemostatic proteins are particularly important for the brain, other vitamin K-dependent proteins (VKDPs), not associated with blood coagulation, also contribute to the brain function. In addition to the VKDPs, vitamin K participates in the nervous system through its involvement in sphingolipid metabolism, a class of lipids widely present in brain cell membranes. Classically known for their structural role, sphingolipids are biologically potent molecules involved in a wide range of cellular actions. Also, there is growing evidence that the K vitamer, menaquinone-4, has anti-inflammatory activity and offers protection against oxidative stress. Finally, although limited in numbers, reports point to a modulatory role of vitamin K in cognition. This short review presents an overview of the known role of vitamin K in brain function to date.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein C / metabolism
  • Protein S / metabolism
  • Sphingolipids / metabolism
  • Vitamin K / metabolism*
  • Vitamin K 2 / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin K 2 / metabolism


  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Protein C
  • Protein S
  • Sphingolipids
  • growth arrest-specific protein 6
  • Vitamin K 2
  • Vitamin K
  • menatetrenone