7 – Cabbage and brain health
Vitamin K in cabbage
Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin K, important for the metabolism of sphingolipids. Sphingolipids are an important class of lipids found in high concentrations in membranes of the brain cells. Alterations in sphingolipid metabolism are associated with age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown an association between increased intake of vitamin K and improved cognitive performance as well as less severe and fewer subjective memory complaints in older individuals. One study found that individuals with early stage Alzheimer’s consumed considerably less vitamin K in comparison to a cognitively healthy control group.
B vitamins in cabbage
Cabbage is also a good source of multiple B vitamins, of which B12, B6 and B9 slow shrinkage of the brain by lowering homocysteine. High homocysteine levels increase the risk of cognitive impairment, brain shrinkage and dementia. The homocysteine amino acid occurs in the blood naturally and plays an important role in metabolism. It however becomes toxic when there is too much of it in the blood, and causes damage to the brain’s delicate blood vessels. The vitamins B12, B6 and B9 help in metabolizing homocysteine, which in turn reduces homocysteine levels in the bloodstream.
Apart from from homocysteine regulation, B vitamins are required for the functioning and producing of neurotransmitters, the chemicals relaying signals between brain neurons. B vitamins are also required for myelin maintenance, which is the fatty sheath surrounding the cells of the nerves. Vitamin B12 helps in promoting red blood cell development, which carry oxygen to the brain.