Healthy Living in the North

Northern physician wins 2nd international research award

Dr. Jacqueline Pettersen accepting the Dr. Wolfgang Hevert Prize for her research on vitamins and memory.

Dr. Jacqueline Pettersen, second from left, accepts the Dr. Wolfgang Hevert Prize for her research on vitamins and memory.

Dr. Jacqueline Pettersen, a neurologist in the Northern Health region and an associate professor in the Northern Medical Program, recently won the Dr. Wolfgang Hevert prize for a research study she plans on the combined effects of two vitamins on attention and memory.

“I’m interested in the possibility that vitamin D and vitamin K2 may work together to help keep our brains functioning well,” said Dr. Pettersen. “There have been studies on the effect of Vitamin D alone, but not on the combination of D and K2.”

In fact, Dr. Pettersen’s own research has shown the benefits of vitamin D for brain health. A study she carried out showed significant memory improvement for people who took 4000 IU of vitamin D each day for 18 weeks. That study also won Dr. Pettersen an international award, the 2018 Fritz Wörwag Research Prize.

Most people have heard of vitamin D, but vitamin K2 might be less familiar. It’s found in animal foods, such as butter from grass-fed cows, or eggs from free-range chickens, and in fermented foods, such as natto (a Japanese fermented soy food), as well as some cheeses. Vitamin K2 was plentiful in traditional, non-industrial diets, but it’s more rare in modern diets. Vitamin K2 generally improves bone and heart health, and vitamin D seems to work with it to strengthen these effects.

“Northern BC residents have been incredibly supportive of research in the north,” said Dr. Pettersen. “I have been pleasantly surprised by the interest generated from my prior vitamin D work as well as this upcoming planned study on vitamin D and K2.”

While the study is still in the planning phases, Dr. Pettersen hopes to start recruiting and enrolling interested participants in early 2019, with final results available within two years. Congratulations to Dr. Pettersen!

Anne Scott

About Anne Scott

Anne is a communications officer at Northern Health; she lives in Prince George with her husband Andrew Watkinson. Her current health goals are to do a pull-up and more than one consecutive “real” push-up. She also dreams of becoming a master’s level competitive sprinter and finding a publisher for her children’s book on colourblindness. Anne enjoys cycling, cross-country skiing, reading, writing, sugar-free chocolate, and napping -- sometimes all on the same day!