Vitamins May Have Larger Role in Halting Brain Decline

Vitamin B is for BrainA new review claims folate and related B Vitamins play a role in slowing down brain function decline as well as playing a role in age-related depression.  These findings look at certain B Vitamins as being equally as successful in supporting the reduction in the risk of mental and cognitive disorders which occur with aging, as nutrients like Omega-3 Essential Fatty acids as well as polyphenols like Resveratrol.  Researchers believe these B Vitamins have the ability to improve the quality of life for the elderly.

Researchers concluded that folate and Vitamin B12 play essential roles in the long term management of dementia and age-related depression.  Inconsistencies of vitamin experiments coming from uncertain study design and methodology were identified by the research team.  B Vitamins and their role in supporting a healthier cognitive function in the aging process received more interest than B Vitamins and their role in age-related depression.

Over 46 million people worldwide experience some form of dementia and it is believed that this number will increase by over 65% by the year 2026.  Although the role of nutrients in supporting brain health is often underestimated nutrients are never fully discounted as being an effective means to aid in improving cognition in ageing.

Researchers are recommending that future studies use some form of imaging technology to confirm effective nutritional interventions.

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Prenatal Folic Acid Could Benefit Children’s Psychological Development

Prenatal Folic AcidA new study finds that supplementation with Folic Acid has beneficial effects on the psychological development of children if taken during the first trimester and beyond.

39 women participated in this randomized controlled trial.  22 of the participating mothers supplemented with folic acid throughout their pregnancy while the remaining 17 only supplemented with folic acid for the first three months of their pregnancy.  At age 7 the 39 children were monitored by asking the parents to answer a questionnaire.  This questionnaire asked questions about the children’s personalities, relationship with others, levels of resilience and abilities to express emotion.  The study results showed that the children of the mothers who supplemented with the Folic Acid throughout their full pregnancy had a higher level of emotional resilience and intelligence.

Folic Acid supplementation during the first trimester of pregnancy has been shown, and is well established, as being important to a baby’s spinal development.  Researchers concluded this study shows the potential psychological benefits achieved through Folic Acid supplementation throughout a women’s full pregnancy.

Further research is planned.

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Lutein and Zeaxanthin Levels Linked to Better Cognitive Function

Lutein and Cognitive FunctionA new study has found that higher blood levels of Lutein and Zeaxanthin may be associated with improved memory, cognition and executive function.  Data from this study found higher Zeaxanthin levels were associated with increased processing speeds and higher levels of both Zeaxanthin and Lutein were associated with enriched scores for many cognitive measures.

Data from over 4,000 adults aged 50 and older was analyzed.  Researchers inferred that a good biological basis exists for hypothesizing that Lutein and Zeaxanthin may be neuroprotective due to their anti inflammatory cell signaling properties and due to their antioxidant properties.

A link between eye health and Lutein was established in 1994 when researchers found a link between the consumption of dark leafy vegetables (carotenoid rich foods) and a reduction in the incidence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  Additional studies now support the effects Lutein has on brain health.  Studies show that the carotenoids found in pediatric brain tissue is 60% Lutein yet only about 12% of the carotenoids found in the average diet contains Lutein.  Researchers have concluded that the brain has a preference for Lutein.

More studies are definitely needed.

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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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Could Folic Acid Decrease Dementia Risk?

Folic Acid and DementiaResearch suggests daily supplementation with folic acid may reduce the risk of having dementia in populations with low levels of this B vitamin and no program to fortify the diet with this nutraceutical.

Data from over 1,300 participants was analyzed.  Face to face interviews were done at the beginning of this study, the Three-City Study, to identify health related issues, socio demographic information and lifestyle characteristics.  All participants completed a 24 hour dietary recall and were dementia free at the time of the diet assessment.  Participants were followed for approximately 7 and ½ years.

Higher intakes of folate (folic acid) were inversely associated with the risk of dementia with approximately a 50% lower risk for participants with the highest folate levels compared to those with the lowest folate levels.

78 countries currently call for mandatory fortification programs for folic acid.  This was done to reduce and prevent neural tube defects in newborn babies.

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Probiotics Improve Cognitive Function Among Patients With Severe Dementia

Probiotics and Brain Function

A new clinical trial with Alzheimer’s patients shows that probiotics may improve cognitive function in humans.  Prior studies showing probiotics benefits for improvements in memory and learning as well as anxiety and depression reduction have been done with mice.

60 patients with Alzheimer’s disease participated in this double blind, controlled trial.  Patients ranged in age from 60 to 95 years.  The study lasted 12 weeks.  Patients were randomly divided into 2 groups.  The control group received milk and the other group received a 200 ml/day mixture of probiotic milk containing Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium biffidum and Lactobacillus fermentum.  A small mental state exam (MMSE) score was recorded both before and after treatment for all participants.  Additionally fasting blood samples were taken to determine related markers both before and after the study period.

Average scores on the MMSE questionnaires increased significantly from 8.7 to 10.6 (out of a maximum of 30) in the group receiving the probiotic and decreased in the control group from 8.7 to 8.0.  The probiotic group also showed reduction in triglycerides and insulin resistance indicating that a “change in the metabolic adjustments might be a mechanism by which probiotics affect Alzheimer’s and possibly other neurological disorders” according to the study’s lead author.

Further studies are already planned.

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