We are the nutrients we provide our body, whether through the food we eat or through the supplements we take. In these studies, nutrients improved brain function and also helped preserve brain size.
Lutein, zeaxanthin, and the eye-brain connection
To function well, the brain needs the same antioxidants present in the eye. In this follow-up to an earlier study, 69 healthy young adults took 20 mg of zeaxanthin per day, 26 mg of zeaxanthin plus 8 mg lutein and 190 mg omega-3s per day, or a placebo.
After four months, while the placebo group had not changed, both nutrient groups had 20 percent more antioxidant pigment in the macula of the eye, and were more quickly able to identify a moving object, its path, direction, and speed. Both zeaxanthin groups also reacted sooner to a fast-moving object, and were better able to detect and track the movement of fine detail against a background.
The findings are important because young healthy people should already be performing at peak efficiency and therefore resist improvement. Doctors don’t know how pigment in the eye affects processing speed in the brain, but believe lutein and zeaxanthin directly alter brain function.
B vitamins, omega-3s protect brain size
The brain shrinks with age and those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias have faster shrink rates. B vitamins work with omega-3s to preserve brain size, and may help delay or prevent dementia. In this study, researchers measured omega-3 and B-vitamin levels in 168 older adults with mild cognitive impairment and greater chances of developing dementia.
Participants had taken a placebo or a high-dose B-vitamin supplement containing 800 mcg folic acid, 500 mcg B12, and 20 mg B6 for two years. In those who began the study with the lowest circulating levels of omega-3s—less than 390 micromoles per liter of blood (mmol/L)—brain atrophy rates did not change. Those with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids—more than 590 mmol/L—had a 40 percent slower brain atrophy rate after taking B-vitamin supplements, compared to placebo.
Reference: Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics; April, 2015, Published Online
Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult your healthcare professional before beginning a supplement, especially if you take prescription medication or have a medical condition. For example, lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3s also thin blood.
Article copyright 2015 by Natural Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.