October 30, 2020

New study demonstrates lutein and zeaxanthin improve cognitive function in young healthy adults

A wide variety of research has shown the beneficial effects of diet on nearly every aspect of brain function and overall health. Lutein is selectively incorporated into the macula as well as the brain. Lutein levels in the macula and the brain have been associated with better cognition.

Previous research has demonstrated the benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin on eye health and some research is emerging on their benefits on cognition in older adults.

According to a study published 3 days ago in Nutrients, researchers demonstrated that supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin improve cognitive function in young, healthy adults.

In this study researchers assessed cognitive function of 51 young healthy individuals ages 18 to 30.  These individuals were randomized into supplement and placebo groups. Macular pigment optical density (MPOD) was measured as well as cognitive function using the CNS Vital Signs testing platform. MPOD and cognitive function were measured every four months for one year of supplementation. As a result, supplementation increased MPOD significantly over the course of the year compared to the placebo group. Researchers demonstrated that lutein and zeaxanthin increases in MPOD which resulted in significant improvements in spatial memory, reasoning ability, and complex attention.

In addition to supplementation, avocados are a great bioavailable source of lutein, containing approximately 0.5 mg of lutein. A study published earlier this year in August demonstrated that avocado consumption increases macular pigment density.

Other brain supportive nutrients to consider are GPC, CDP-choline, gingko biloba, and phosphatidylserine, and fish oil. GPC and CDP-choline are water soluble forms of choline that can cross the blood brain barrier and support brain health. These help make more acetylcholine, neurotransmitters, as well as phosphatidylcholine in the cell membranes. In addition, phosphatidylserine is an essential nutrient for brain function and is not found in the diet.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Renzi-Hammond LM, Bovier ER, et al. Effects of a Lutein and Zeaxanthin Intervention on Cognitive Function: A Randomized, Double-Masked, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Younger Healthy Adults. Nutrients. 2017 November 14;9(11).  pii: E1246. doi: 10.3390/nu9111246.

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