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.
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