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Cognitive health and memory: Two ingredients backed by new studies

Maintaining a sharp mind and memory is quickly moving to the top of my list of concerns—and I’m not alone, as evidenced by growing sales of cognitive support supplements. This week, new research shows promise for two ingredients.

Vitamin D

High dietary intake of vitamin D was linked to a significantly lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease among older women, in a study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Science. French scientists studied nearly 500 women age 75 and older who did not take vitamin D supplements. The women were divided into groups (no dementia, Alzheimer's disease, other dementia) within seven years of the onset of any dementia. Subjects’ vitamin D intake was estimated based on self-reported food questionnaires.

Women with the highest dietary intake levels of vitamin D were 77 percent less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in seven years, compared to those with lower dietary D intakes, researchers concluded. By inference, eating D-rich fish and other foods and/or supplementing to reach optimal D levels may be a good way to lower risk for cognitive decline.

Green tea

In a very interesting recent—and small—study, Swiss researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the first time to witness and measure the effects of green tea extract on the brain. Researchers focused on epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and other polyphenols thought to be green tea’s active components. Twelve healthy subjects drank 250 ml or 500 ml of a whey-based drink that contained green tea extract, then performed a working memory task. MRIs showed increased activation of the prefrontal cortex, where working memory is processed—and noted that higher doses produced greater activation. In another new study from China, researchers found that EGCG seemed to improve learning and spatial memory in mice.

Do you take any supplements for brain health, and if so, why? Please share in comments.

 

 

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