Wellness Database: Cognitive Function
Nutrient deficiency is a major contributor to poor cognitive function for children as well as adults. Supplements such as Fish Oil and Krill Oil may be able to maintain and improve cognitive function.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Associated with Higher Cognitive Function in Previously Depressed
Summary: Associations between omega-3 PUFA concentrations and cognitive function in an at-risk sample of older people with previous major depression were examined in this cross-sectional study. Participants (n=132) (mean +/- SD age: 67.8 +/- 6.6 y) had recovered from major depression. Samples and information were taken through questionnaire, cognitive tests and fasting blood samples. Higher EPA and total omega-3 PUFA concentrations and a lower ratio of arachidonic acid to EPA in erythrocyte membranes were associated with a higher cognitive composite score, adjusted for education levels. The strongest and most consistent correlations were found between immediate recall and concentrations of total omega-3 PUFAs and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in erythrocytes, which were observed only in participants with recurrent depression. Findings suggest that total erythrocyte omega-3 PUFA concentrations may be positively associated with cognitive function, immediate recall, in elderly population with previous depression and that lower concentrations of omega-3 PUFAs or ALA in erythrocyte membranes may be good predictors for cognitive impairment in the same population.
Maternal Vitamin D Levels Linked with Language Development in Offspring
Summary: Maternal serum 25(OH)-vitamin D (vitD) concentrations during a critical window of fetal neurodevelopment may affect language development outcomes in offspring. VitD concentrations were measured in mothers (n= 743) at 18 weeks pregnancy and grouped into quartiles. Offspring were assessed at 2, 5, 8, 10, 14, and 17 years of age with the Child Behavior Checklist. Receptive language was assessed at ages 5 and 10 years. Analysis revealed significant linear trends between quartiles of maternal vitD levels and language impairment at 5 and 10 years of age. Researchers found that the risk of women with vitD insufficiency during pregnancy having a child with clinically significant language difficulties was increased close to 2 times compared with women with normal vitD levels. Findings suggest maternal vitD insufficiency during pregnancy may be associated with offspring language impairment.
Multivitamins Improve Cognitive Ability and Memory
Summary: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials discovered that multivitamins can be used efficaciously to improve cognitive abilities. Meta-analysis was conducted on randomized, placebo-controlled trials (n=10/ n = 3,200) which reported on the chronic effects (>=1 month) of oral multivitamin supplementation on any valid cognitive outcomes. Survey indicated that multivitamins were effective in improving immediate free recall memory, but not delayed free recall memory or verbal fluency. Multivitamins were found to potentially enhance immediate free recall memory but no other cognitive domains.
Antioxidants Help Preserve Cognitive Function
Summary: In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 4,447 French subjects between the ages of 45 and 60 years, daily supplementation with the antioxidants (120 mg/d vitamin C, 6 mg/c beta-carotene, 30 mg/d vitamin E, 100 microg/d selenium, 20 mg/d zinc) was found to be associated with better episodic memory scores (mean difference: 0.61), and with better verbal memory in nonsmoking subjects and those with low serum vitamin C concentrations at baseline. These results support the idea that antioxidants may help preserve aspects of cognitive function.
Reference: "French adults' cognitive performance after daily supplementation with antioxidant vitamins and minerals at nutritional doses: a post hoc analysis of the Supplementation in Vitamins and Mineral Antioxidants (SU.VI.MAX) trial," Kesse-Guyot E, Fezeu L, et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2011 Sept; 94(3): 892-9. (Address: Unité de Recherche en Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle, U557 Institut National de la Santeacute et de la Recherche Meacutedicale, France).
Pycnogenol Improves Cognitive Function In Students
Summary: In a study involving 53 healthy university students between the ages of 18 and 27 years, supplementation with French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol(R)) for a period of 8 weeks was found to be associated with statistically significant improvements in cognitive function, specifically, improved sustained attention, memory, executive functions and mood ratings, as compared to controls who were not given Pycnogenol(R). The students were given university examinations, and results found that in those given Pycnogenol(R), students failed 7 tests out of 112 (6.25%), as compared to controls who failed 9 tests out of 84 (10.71%), and the average test score among those given Pycnogenol(R) was 26.1 as compared to 23.81 in controls. The authors conclude, "This study indicates a role for Pycnogenol® to improve cognitive function in normal students."
Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 Prevent Cognitive Decline
Summary: In a randomized, controlled, 2 year trial involving 900 adults aged 60-74 years of age with elevated psychological distress, daily supplementation with 400 microg folic acid and 100 microg vitamin B12 was found to be associated with improvements in cognitive status after 2 years, as compared to placebo. Improvements in the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status-Modified total score and TICS-M delayed recall score. The authors conclude, "Long-term supplementation of daily oral 400 ?g FA + 100 ?g vitamin B-12 promotes improvement in cognitive functioning after 24 mo, particularly in immediate and delayed memory performance."
Reference: "Oral folic acid and vitamin B-12 supplementation to prevent cognitive decline in community-dwelling older adults with depressive symptoms--the Beyond Ageing Project: a randomized controlled trial," Walker JG, Batterham PJ, et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2012 Jan; 95(1): 194-203. (Address: Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia).
Dr. Andrew Myers: Happiness and Optimism
In addition to nutrition and exercise, which are necessary for good health, happiness and optimism appear to be psychological indicators of physical health. An increasing number of studies show that attitude is intimately related to physical wellness.
Multiple studies have documented the association between heart disease and optimism. One study, published in 2004, followed nearly a thousand men and women over a nine year period. Individuals in the study who had higher than normal levels of optimism had a more than 50% lower risk of death from all causes and a 23% lower risk of heart disease compared to individuals who tended toward pessimism. The study, published in The Archives of General Psychiatry, concluded “[T]he trait of optimism was an important long-term determinant of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in elderly subjects independent of sociodemographic characteristics and cardiovascular risk factors.” The study not only found that optimism improved health conditions, but also that hopelessness or pessimism actually increased the progression of disease.
Another study, published in the European Heart Journal, followed 1,739 adults over a ten year period. The study found that individuals who frequently experienced feelings of joy, happiness, excitement, enthusiasm, and contentment had a significantly reduced risk of developing heart disease. Individuals who experienced little to no happy feelings were 22% more likely to have a heart attack or angina than those with moderate experience of happiness, who were at a 22% higher risk than those with moderate levels of happiness experience.
New research from the University of Michigan, recently published in the journal Stroke, found that optimism was an indicator of significantly reduced stroke risk. This study of 6,000 adults over 50 with no history of stroke found that the reduction in risk from being optimistic was similar to the reduction that can be achieved from eating additional fruits and vegetables.
While it is clear that feelings of happiness and optimism are associated with reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, it is not well known whether the attitude causes good health or good health causes the attitude. It does seem likely that many actions that make a person healthier also make a person happier. Consider a person who smokes a pack of cigarettes every day, doesn’t regularly exercise, sits on a couch or in an office chair for 6 or more hours a day, eats fast food regularly, and never eats fresh fruits and vegetables. Every single one of these actions individually puts the person at a higher risk of heart disease, and together they create a perfect storm of poor health. This person is likely to be pessimistic and unhappy for the very same reasons that they have an increased risk of heart disease. I, for one, wouldn’t be very happy if I was forced to inhale poison, eat chemicals, and deprive my body of much-needed nutrition and activity on a daily basis!
A person who feeds their body what it needs nutritionally and physically is more likely to be happy because their body is happy. Exercise burns cortisol, a hormone produced naturally in the body during times of stress. Exercise also causes the brain to release endorphins which create powerful euphoric feelings. Together, the reduction of cortisol and increase of endorphins create feelings of happiness.
Ultimately, happiness and optimism are merely parts of the overall picture of wellness. Simple behaviors and lifestyle changes can help everyone be more happy and healthy.
Walnuts May Help Reasoning Ability
Summary: In this study, the authors sought to determine the effects of walnuts on verbal and non-verbal reasoning, memory, and mood. College students (n=64) were randomly assigned to two treatment sequences in a crossover fashion: walnuts-placebo or placebo-walnuts. Baseline data were collected for non-verbal reasoning, verbal reasoning, memory and mood states. Data were collected again after 8 weeks of intervention. After 6 weeks of washout, the intervention groups followed the diets in reverse order. Data were collected once more at the end of the 8-week intervention period. No significant increases were detected for mood, non-verbal reasoning or memory in the walnut-supplemented diet, however, inferential verbal reasoning increased significantly by 11.2 %. The authors conclude that in healthy young adults, walnuts may have the ability to increase inferential reasoning.
Obesity Linked to Changes in the Brain
Rodent models of obesity induced by consuming high-fat diet (HFD) are characterized by inflammation both in peripheral tissues and in hypothalamic areas critical for energy homeostasis. Here we report that unlike inflammation in peripheral tissues, which develops as a consequence of obesity, hypothalamic inflammatory signaling was evident in both rats and mice within 1 to 3 days of HFD onset, prior to substantial weight gain. Furthermore, both reactive gliosis and markers suggestive of neuron injury were evident in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus of rats and mice within the first week of HFD feeding. Although these responses temporarily subsided, suggesting that neuroprotective mechanisms may initially limit the damage, with continued HFD feeding, inflammation and gliosis returned permanently to the mediobasal hypothalamus. Consistent with these data in rodents, we found evidence of increased gliosis in the mediobasal hypothalamus of obese humans, as assessed by MRI. These findings collectively suggest that, in both humans and rodent models, obesity is associated with neuronal injury in a brain area crucial for body weight control.
Source: J Clin Invest. 2012;122(1):153–162. doi:10.1172/JCI59660.
Fish Oil May Increase Cerebral Blood Flow
Summary: Supplementation with fish oil may significantly increase cerebral blood flow. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study assessed the effects of 12 weeks daily supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) rich fish oil (1 g, 2 g) or placebo (olive oil) in 65 healthy adults (18-29 y). Relative changes in the concentration of oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin were assessed in the prefrontal cortex using near-infrared spectroscopy during performance of 9 cognitive tasks. Supplementation with both doses of fish oil resulted in increased concentrations of cerebral blood flow (oxyhemoglobin and total levels of hemoglobin) during the cognitive tasks, suggesting that fish oil may benefit cerebral blood flow.
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Nutrients and Diet
Alpha Lipoic Acid Amino Acids Antioxidants Arginine Calcium Carnitine Carotene Chromium Picolinate Citrulline Coenzyme Q10 DHEA Fat Fiber Fruit and Vegetables Garlic Ginkgo Biloba Glucosamine Vegetarian Diet Green Tea Iron Lutein Lycopene Magnesium Mediterranean Diet Multivitamins Nitric Oxide Nuts Olives Omega 3 Fatty Acids Policosanols Polyphenols Pomegranate Probiotics Pycnogenol Red Yeast Rice Salt Saffron Selenium Soy Theanine Vitamin A Vitamin B Vitamin C Vitamin D Vitamin E Vitamin K White Tea Zinc