Life Extension Magazine®

Salad bowl that contains multiple nutrients for brain health

In The News: April 2019

High levels of specific nutrients lead to healthy brain aging; postmenopausal breast cancer is linked to low vitamin D levels; how old you feel impacts health and longevity; and more.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in March 2021. Written by: Life Extension Editorial Staff.

Healthy Brain Aging Tied to Better Nutrition

A study at the University of Illinois found that higher plasma levels of specific nutrients were associated with improved brain connectivity and cognitive performance in older individuals. The findings were reported in the March 2019 issue of the journal NeuroImage.*

The study included 116 healthy participants aged 65 to 75. Plasma samples collected from the subjects were analyzed for 32 nutrients that are present in significant amounts in a Mediterranean diet. Subjects were tested for general intelligence, executive function, and memory. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of their brains assessed brain network efficiency within 7 connectivity networks.

The nutrient biomarker patterns associated with better cognitive performance included omega-3 fatty acids, healthy omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid balance, carotenoids, lycopene, and vitamins including B2, B12, D, and folate. Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and plant carotenoids were associated with enhanced functional brain network efficiency.

Editor’s Note: “Our study suggests that diet and nutrition moderate the association between network efficiency and cognitive performance. This means that the strength of the association between functional brain network efficiency and cognitive performance is associated with the level of the nutrients,” senior author Aron K. Barbey concluded.

*NeuroImage. 2019 Mar;188:239-251.

What you need to know

Better nutrition improves brain connectivity and cognitive performance. New meta-analysis shows that vitamin C can speed cold recovery. Low vitamin D is linked with postmenopausal breast cancer.

Taking Extra Vitamin C Can Help in Recovery from a Cold

Orange Juice

The results of a meta-analysis suggest that the addition of extra vitamin C to one’s regular, daily supplemental regimen, if initiated at the first sign of a cold, could help shorten the duration and relieve some of the symptoms.*

The meta-analysis included 9 randomized, placebo-controlled trials that evaluated the effects of therapeutic doses of vitamin C consumed at the first signs of a cold, when taken alone, or in addition to regular supplementation.

Editor’s Note: In light of their findings, the authors suggest supplementing with a smaller dose of vitamin C each day to boost immunity and adding a larger dose of the vitamin when experiencing a cold to improve recovery.

*Biomed Res Int. 2018 Jul 5;2018:1837634.

Feeling Younger May be Good for Your Health

Man and woman dancing

Subjective age—how old you feel, rather than how old you are—may be a contributing factor to health and longevity for older adults. Research results presented at the 2018 American Psychological Association convention indicate that subjective age could be shaped by the level of control individuals believe they have over their lives.*

“Research suggests that a younger subjective age is associated with a variety of positive outcomes in older individuals, including better memory performance, health and longevity,” stated presenter Jennifer Bellingtier, PhD.

There were 116 participants in the study between the ages of 60 to 90, and 106 participants aged 18 to 36. They all completed surveys daily for 9 days, concerning the level of control they thought they had over the activities in which they participated each day, and how old they felt at that time.

Dr. Bellingtier and co-author Shevaun Neupert, PhD, observed an association between the subjective age and the level of control perceived by older participants, but this was not the case in the younger group.

Editor’s Note: “Shaping the daily environment in ways that allow older adults to exercise more control could be a helpful strategy for maintaining a youthful spirit and overall well-being,” Dr. Bellingtier said.

*American Psychological Association Annual Convention. 2018 Aug 9.

Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Linked to Low Vitamin D, Higher BMI

Women standing for picture

A study described in the journal Menopause found that postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer were more likely to have insufficient levels of vitamin D and higher rates of obesity than women who didn’t have the disease.*

The study included 209 postmenopausal women between the ages of 45 and 75 whose vitamin D levels were measured 10 to 20 days following their breast cancer diagnosis. The control group consisted of 418 postmenopausal women of the same age, who were cancer-free.

Insufficient vitamin D levels, defined as 20 to 29 ng/mL, were present in 55.6% of breast cancer patients and in 49.3% of the control group, and deficient levels of less than 20 ng/mL were found in 26.2% of patients and in 20.3% of the controls.

The postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer were also found to have a higher body mass index (BMI) and a larger percentage of obesity, at 57.4% compared to 40.2% for subjects without the disease.

Editor’s Note: “Postmenopausal women had an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency at the time of breast cancer diagnosis, associated with a higher rate of obesity, than women of the same age group without cancer,” the authors concluded.

* Menopause. 2018 Sep 17.