Attention! Nutrients for a Better Brain

Studies have shown certain nutrients improve cognition, memory, and attention in adults. Here are reports about recent studies of vitamin K and the herb Bacopa monnieri.

Vitamin K and Cognition

A new discovery links vitamin K with the protective sheaths and membranes around neurons; the nerve cells that process and transmit signals in the brain and body. Earlier studies found vitamin K supports memory, and cognition can decline when drugs deplete vitamin K, leading doctors to test for a link between vitamin K and cognition in older adults.

In this study, doctors measured vitamin K in the diets of 192 people, aged at least 65, and compared cognitive performance between those who got the least vitamin K to those who got more. People with higher levels of vitamin K performed better on tests of memory, attention, math, and language, and scored higher on behavioral measures including self-control, mood, and desire to engage in everyday activities.

Discussing the findings, doctors said vitamin K may play a role in preventing dementia, and that ensuring adequate vitamin K in the diet may improve cognition and behavior in older adults.

Reference: Nutrients; August 2015, Vol. 7, No. 8, 6739-50

better brain

Bacopa Monnieri, Memory, and Attention

Ayurvedic doctors have long used Ayurvedic herb Bacopa monnieri, for neurological and behavioral problems. In this analysis, doctors reviewed nine placebo-controlled studies covering 437 participants who took a standardized extract of Bacopa monnieri for at least 12 weeks.

Overall, compared to placebo, those taking bacopa monnieri had better visual attention, were more mentally flexible, and were able to switch tasks, and scan, search, and process visual information more quickly. On a test of reaction times, the bacopa monnieri groups were able to choose more quickly between multiple options, indicating they were generally more alert and had better speed and control of body movements.

Reference: Journal of Ethnopharmacology; November 2014, Vol. 151, No. 1, 528-35