Supplement Combo Improves Cognitive Function In Older Individuals

Supplement combo improves cognitive function in older individuals

Supplement combo improves cognitive function in older individuals

Friday, August 17, 2012. The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease published an article online on August 9, 2012 which describes the finding of a three year study that evaluated the effects of a nutritional supplement on cognitive function in older men and women.

Forty-one participants aged 65 and older in Japan's "Tone Project" were assigned capsules providing 1,182 milligrams purified fish oils containing 290 milligrams eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 203 milligrams docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); 84 milligrams lycopene from tomato and 240 milligrams Ginkgo biloba extract daily for three years. The control group consisted of 622 participants with no supplement intake or serious diseases. Tests of cognitive function, including attention, memory, language and reasoning skills, were administered at the beginning and end of the study. Blood samples collected at the initial examination were analyzed for apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype and other factors. According to the authors, "An increasing number of studies in cell lines, targeted replacement rodents, and human volunteers indicate higher oxidative stress and a more pro-inflammatory state associated with the apolipoprotein E4 allele (APOE4)."

Although memory scores improved in both groups, the increase was larger in those who received the supplements compared to the controls. Language ability and attention declined in those who did not receive the supplements, while remaining stable in supplemented participants. When test scores were evaluated as a whole, a significant improvement occurred only in supplemented subjects. Improvement was noted in both supplemented APOE4 carriers and noncarriers; however, the benefit was greater in those positive for APOE4.

Mechanisms for EPA and DHA in maintaining cognitive function are well known, and include the fatty acids' anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, although omega-3 fatty acids have an antioxidant effect, they are also subject to lipid peroxidation, therefore, combining them with compounds that have antioxidant properties such as lycopene could improve their benefits.

"When just one of these agents or nutrients is used by an elderly person, its effect on cognitive function is not enough to prevent aging decline, at least not with the usual dosage in human trial studies," the authors remark. "When these agents or nutrients are used in combination, they may cover the vulnerability of other agents and synergistically potentiate their respective antioxidant properties, which might then be effective for the improvement of cognitive function. Additionally, this may decrease the oxidative stress associated with the E4 allele and improve cognitive function among APOE4 carriers."

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More evidence found for nutritional formula in Alzheimer's disease

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The July, 2012 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease published positive results for a clinical trial of a nutrient formula developed by Richard J. Wurtman, PhD and his associates to help treat Alzheimer's disease. The formula, which contains choline, uridine (a component of RNA found in tomatoes and other foods) and the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), has elicited benefits in earlier human research, as well as in studies involving gerbils and mice.

For the current trial, a team led by Philip Scheltens, of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam administered a placebo or choline, uridine and DHA to 259 men and women with mild Alzheimer's disease for 24 weeks. Memory function tests and electroencephalograph (EEG) evaluations were conducted at the beginning of the trial, at 12 weeks and at the trial's conclusion.

An improvement in memory test scores was observed among those who received the nutrient formula in comparison with the control group over the course of the study. Electroencephalography patterns normalized among the supplemented group, suggesting an improvement in synaptic function.

"You want to improve the numbers of synapses, not by slowing their degradation — though of course you'd love to do that too — but rather by increasing the formation of the synapses," Dr Wurtman stated. He noted that research involving individuals with more advanced disease did not find a benefit for the nutrient combination, probably because the subjects had lost more neurons, which diminishes the ability to form synapses.

The nutritional cocktail is currently being tested in men and women with mild cognitive impairment. Dr Wurtman predicts that if the supplements are found to help, they could be useful for those who test positive for early signs of Alzheimer's disease.

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