Life Extension Magazine®

Woman learns broccoli may slow cognitive decline

In the News: Consuming More Flavonols May Slow Cognitive Decline

Old drug being studied to help manage ALS; higher plasma omega-3 improves lung function; nicotinamide increases muscle-cell mitochondria; flavonols may slow cognitive decline.

Scientifically reviewed by: Amanda Martin, DC, in December 2023.

Consuming More Flavonols May Slow Cognitive Decline

Consuming more flavonols, a type of antioxidant flavonoid, was associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline among older men and women, according to a clinical study published in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.*

When individual flavonols were evaluated, participants with the highest intake of kaempferol and quercetin exhibited slower rates of cognitive decline, compared to people with the lowest intake. Kaempferol, found in significant amounts in kale, beans, tea, spinach and broccoli, was associated with the greatest benefit.

Global cognitive test scores of those whose intake of flavonols and constituents (including kaempferol, quercetin) was among the highest 20% of participants indicated a slower rate of decline during follow-up than participants whose intake was among the lowest 20%.

Editor's Note: There were 961 participants in the study, enrolled in the Rush Memory and Aging Project, average age 81, with no dementia. They responded to yearly dietary questionnaires administered during a 6.9- year average follow-up period, providing information about flavonol intake and com- pleted annual cognitive and memory tests.

*Neurology ®. Feb 14;100(7):e694-e702.

Higher Omega-3 Levels Linked with Better Lung Health

A study reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine suggests that people with higher levels of omega-3 may have a better chance of maintaining lung function over time.*

"Inflammation contributes to lung function decline and the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and may benefit lung health," the researchers stated as the rationale for the study.

Participants were 15,063 healthy men and women enrolled in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Pooled Cohorts Study. They were followed for up to 20 years, during which repeated measures of lung function were obtained. Genetic data were also collected from more than half a million UK Biobank participants to investigate potential associations between genetically predicted omega-3 levels and lung function.

The results showed that people with higher plasma omega-3 fatty acid levels had a lower risk of declining lung function during follow-up. Those with higher genetically predicted omega-3 fatty acid levels also had better lung function over time.

Editor's Note: The study also found that the omega-3 fatty acid DHA appeared to be the most protective.

*Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2023 Jul 20.

Nicotinamide Boosts Muscle Cells’ Energy Production

In a clinical study involving adult twins, a form of vitamin B3 known as nicotinamide riboside (NR) was found to increase the number and density of energy-producing mito- chondria within muscle cells.*

Nicotinamide riboside is a precursor of NAD+, a coenzyme found in every cell that supports cellular energy production. NAD+ declines with aging.

For the study 20 sets of twins were recruited to receive NR or a placebo. The NR dosage was 250 mg at the beginning of the study and gradually increased to 1,000 mg per day for five months. Blood, muscle tissue, and other samples were obtained from all participants at the beginning and end of the trial.

At the end of the trial NR improved systemic NAD+ metabolism, muscle mitochondrial number, myoblast dif- ferentiation, and gut microbiota com- position as compared to the placebo group.

Editor's Note: "NR supplementation is a potential treatment option to be tested in individuals with decreased muscle mitochondrial biogenesis and dysbiosis," the authors stated.

*Sci Adv. 2023 Jan 13;9(2):eadd 5163

Old Drug May Offer New Hope for People with ALS

An already FDA-approved medication may be repurposed to aid in the management of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disorder, a preclinical study found.*

Terazosin is an alpha-blocker drug that has been around for decades, mostly used to treat high blood pressure and the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Recently, researchers discovered that terazosin also binds to the enzyme PGK1 and increases its activity.

The metabolic pathway that PGK1 is part of is dysfunctional in ALS, and typically causes the progressive death of motor neurons in both the brain and spinal cord—causing paralysis.

Scientists utilized multiple models of ALS—both in cell culture and in various animal models—to show that treatment with terazosin was neuroprotective, defending motor neuron cells from the typical changes and cell death that would otherwise occur.

Editor's Note: "Repurposing terazosin therefore has the potential to increase the limited therapeutic options across all forms of ALS, irrespective of disease cause," the authors of the study stated.

*EBioMedicine. 2022 Sep;83:104202.