Lutein Levels Linked To A More Agile And “Youthful” Brain

Lutein and CognitionA new study finds a high intake of Lutein may slow down cognitive decline.

60 healthy adults between the ages of 25 and 45 participated in this study.  Carotenoid levels were assessed by measuring MPOD (Macular Pigment Optical Density), which is considered a trusted indicator of Lutein levels in the brain. Event related brain activity was used as a gauge of cognitive function and was recorded as the participants performed cognitive control testing.  Study results showed MPOD was related to both specific electrical brain activity and age during the decision making process, known as the P3 wave.  Younger adults showed a larger abundance of P3 than the older participants however, the older participants with higher MPOD levels displayed P3 measures equal to the younger participants.  Researchers concluded that Lutein appears to have a protective role in the brain since the study data indicated that participants with more Lutein were able to utilize more cognitive resources to finish their tasks.

Besides being beneficial to brain health, Lutein and Zeaxanthin have been shown to provide support for vision and vision diseases since Lutein appears to accumulate in both the brain and in the eyes.  The ability of Lutein in brain processing, memory, speed and processing is intriguing since Lutein cannot be manufactured on its own in the body.

Further study is warranted.

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Choline,-An Underused, Essential Nutrient

CholineCholine is an essential vitamin-like nutrient that is useful for helping the body to maintain optimal health.  Only recently has this vital nutrient gained attention for its role in supporting healthy liver function, prenatal development, brain and heart health and athletic performance and recovery.  As a matter of fact Choline is the most recent nutrient to receive an RDI (reference daily intake) from the FDA.  Choline was classified as an essential nutrient in 1998 by the Institute of Medicine.  This important nutrient is not as readily available through our foods as originally thought and approximately 90% of all Americans are not meeting IOM’s (Institue of Medicine) recommended daily intakes of 425 mg for adult women and 550 mg for adult men.

Choline helps cleanse the liver of fats that can accumulate in this organ.  This in turn helps maintain normal liver function.  This is important since today almost 40% of the population now has NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).  Growing obesity levels is a key factor in the rise of this disease.  Without adequate levels of Choline fat transport out of the liver slows down and fat accumulates in the liver causing damage.  In healthy adults deprived of Choline for 42 days between 77% and 80% developed signs of liver dysfunction according to one study.  This damage did reverse itself once the participants were given a high-choline diet.

Choline, an essential building block of cells, is needed in larger quantities during pregnancy.  Pregnant women use twice the recommended levels of Choline, however only about 10% of pregnant women meet these higher levels.  Growing evidence link Choline, like folic acid, to the prevention of neural tube defects in newborns.  One study found a 2.4-fold higher risk of neural tube defects in participants with low blood levels of Choline during mid-pregnancy.  Additionally, Choline seems to lower cortisol levels and may reduce the baby’s response to stress.  It looks like Choline makes Omega-3 DHA more available to the prenatal brain supporting healthier cognitive development.  Pre-Eclampsia risks (onset of high blood pressure during pregnancy) have been reduced during the third trimester of pregnancy with Choline supplementation.

Choline has shown benefits for lowering homocysteine levels.  Homocysteine is an inflammatory marker associated with greater risks for heart disease, stroke, cancer, bone fractures and cognitive decline.  Choline converts homocysteine into the amino acid methionine thereby preventing the building up of homocysteine in the body.

Choline supports faster communication between muscle fibers and the brain which helps support additional muscle recovery after repetitive motion exercise which boosts overall workout performance.  Choline also helps in the optimization and synthesis of nitric oxide.  Nitric Oxide increases the flow of nutrients and oxygen into the muscles increases pump during exercise.  Active people are a greater risk of Choline depletion ultimately causing a reduction in performance and the breakdown of muscle cells to support adequate Choline supplies to the brain.

Food sources of Choline are not typically a part of most American diets.  Egg yolks and Beef liver are examples of Choline-rich foods.  Salmon, broccoli, peanuts, brussel sprouts and chicken also contain Choline but in smaller amounts and do not provide the amount of Choline needed in a day making supplementation a must.

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Folic Acid and Dementia: Supplementation Benefits Elderly People with Mild Cognitive Decline

Folic Acid and Cognitive ImpairmentElderly people with mild cognitive impairment saw significant improvements in both cognitive performance and reduced inflammation when supplementing with 400 mcg of Folic Acid daily for a period of 12 months.

Over 150 seniors with mild cognitive impairment were randomly assigned to two groups.  One group received daily Folic Acid supplementation (400 mcg) and the other group was a conventional-treatment group.

Significant improvements in cognitive function were seen in the group supplementing with Folic Acid.  Additionally a significant reduction in levels of inflammatory cytokines was seen.  Peripheral inflammatory cytokines appear to be biomarkers for identifying individuals who may be at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Researchers believe looking at the role of inflammatory markers at the onset of dementia, before full clinical dementia syndrome has developed, is essential.  Researchers concluded that folic acid has significant memory enhancing and anti-inflammatory properties.

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Vitamin A Status At Birth Linked to Long-Term Risk of Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s

Cognitive FunctionA new study has found elderly individuals with low Vitamin A levels may be more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease along with lower brain functioning.  Additionally the study found the even a marginal Vitamin A deficiency at birth might affect long-term risk factors.

This new study was made up of findings from mouse models as well as human population data.  The population study revealed that 75% of those with either a significant or even mild Vitamin A deficiency had some cognitive impairment compared to 47% with normal Vitamin A levels that experienced cognitive impairment.  The research on mice confirmed this finding.  Even a mild Vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy or immediately after birth was associated with an increase in the production of amyloid-beta plaques which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.  Researchers found that mice deprived of Vitamin A performed poorly on standardized tests of memory as well as learning as adults.  Mice that had Vitamin A withheld while they were in the womb but were given a normal diet after they were born had lower performance in general when compared to mice receiving adequate Vitamin A in the womb but were deprived Vitamin A after birth.  It was found that some reversal of decline could be reversed with adequate Vitamin A supplementation.  Researchers concluded that monitoring Vitamin A during infancy as well as during pregnancy and eliminating a prenatal Vitamin A deficiency may aid in halting Alzheimer’s disease development.

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Micronutrient Supplementation For Mothers Boosts Infant Cognitive Health

Infant CognitionA major follow up study has determined pregnant women should take more micronutrients besides iron and folic acid to increase the long-term cognitive development of their children.

The Supplementation with Multiple Micronutrients Intervention Trial (SUMMIT) lasted from 2001 – 2004.  Over 31,000 pregnant women participated in this study.  The study goals were to determine if more micronutrients during pregnancy were necessary to increasing long-term cognitive and brain development.  Half the study participants received iron and folic acid supplements (IFA) during their pregnancy and for 3 months after their babies were born.  The other half of the study participants received iron and folic acid in addition to other micronutrients like B6, zinc and iodine (MMN).

Positive effects of the MMN supplement group were seen in 487 children who were assessed for cognitive ability at the ages 3 – 5 years old.  After 10 years of age, researchers tested almost 3,000 children who were now between 9 and 12 years of age.  The MMN Group totaled 1,466 children and the IFA group had 1,413 children.  The goals of this second round of testing were to assess the long term effect of MMN supplementation on socio-emotional, cognitive and motor development in the children and to assess the effect of socio-environmental and biomedical determinants on these results.

Children born from women in the MMN group showed significant proficiency in general intellectual ability and procedural memory when compared with the children of the women in the IFA group. This is equivalent to cognitive development gained from an additional half a year of schooling.   In general the children born to mothers in the MMN group showed improvements in socio-emotional, fine motor and cognitive abilities when compared with the children of the other group.

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Omega-3’s Linked to Better Cognitive Function in Mildly Impaired Older People

Omega-3 and CognitionA new study finds daily supplementation with Omega-3 essential fatty acids may improve measures of cognitive function like perceptual speed and memory.

86 people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) were randomly assigned to receive a placebo (olive oil) or an Omega-3 supplement (EPA 720 mg DHA 480 mg) daily for 6 months.  The average mean age of the participants was 71 years of age. Significant improvements in scores on Basic Cognitive Aptitude Tests (BCAT), which measure cognitive function, were seen in the group taking the Omega-3 essential fatty acid supplements.  Additionally significant improvements in working memory, space imagery efficiency and perceptual speed were seen in the Omega-3 group while no improvements were seen in recognition memory or mental arithmetic efficiency.  Men tended to see significant improvements in space imagery efficiency, working memory, and perceptual speed, while women saw significant improvements in space imagery and perceptual speed.  Both men and women saw significant improvements in BCAT scores compared to the placebo group.

Because the study group was small further research is needed.

Make sure your fish oil is molecularly distilled to remove potential toxins.  Also a Fish oil that is manufactured to comply with strict European standards will be free of heavy metals, PCB’s, dioxins, pesticides and other unwanted compounds.  An enteric coating will protect the Fish Oil  from the harsh environment of the stomach, and then  the softgel will better travel to the small intestine where it can be digested and its fatty acids released and absorbed into the body. This prevents a fishy aftertaste and odor, and is helpful to sensitive individuals.  Some products will use lemon oil to help with the digestion of the Fish Oil softgel without any fishy burps.

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Vitamin C and E Supplements May Protect Against Age-Related Brain Declines

Cognitive DeclineData from a recent study shows daily supplementation with Vitamin C and Vitamin E could reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Data from over 5,000 seniors collected over a period of time (from 1991-2002) was analyzed.  Participants were all over 65 years of age.  Seniors who were supplementing with Vitamin E and/or Vitamin C had a statistically significant 40% reduction in all cause-dementia and a 42% reduction in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  Compared to non vitamin users, participants who were supplementing with either Vitamin C or Vitamin E separately saw a 43% and 46% reduction in the risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  Additionally, the risk of developing cognitive impairment not dementia (CIND), were reduced by 31% in the seniors who supplemented with Vitamin C and 32% for seniors who supplemented with Vitamin E.

As we age there is a natural decline in brain function.  Mild cognitive impairment is considered a transitional state and small changes in mental abilities and memory coexist with normal functioning.  These declines in functions may often be a warning sign of dementia.  Dementia is a term that is used to describe many different brain disorders that all share a progressive loss of brain function.  It is believed that Oxidative stress may be a contributing factor to this process.

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