Many chronic conditions typically have increased nutrient demands than in healthy individuals. These are considered conditionally essential nutrients. There is either a disruption in metabolic processes, underlying inflammation, oxidative stress, or an inability to meet the metabolic demands with the current nutrient reserves.

In a study published earlier this month in Frontiers in Aging Neurosceince, researchers demonstrated a significant association between plasma vitamin C levels and performance on tasks involving attention, focus, working memory, decision speed, delayed and total recall, and recognition.

Previous research has shown that patients with Alzheimer’s have significantly lower plasma levels of folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin C. It is essential to protect against oxidative damage through the diet and supplementation. It is also important to note that vitamin C and folate concentrations are much higher in the brain than in the plasma.

This cross-sectional study included 81 healthy individuals ages 24 to 96 years of age with a range of plasma vitamin C concentrations. Cognitive assessments included The Swinburne-University-Computerized-Cognitive-Assessment-Battery (SUCCAB) and two pen and paper tests as well as the Symbol-Digits-Modalities-Test (SDMT) and Hopkins-Verbal-Learning-Test-Revised (HVLT-R). Individuals were divided into two groups. Those with a plasma vitamin C level of greater than 28 μmol/L (adequate) and those less than 28 μmol/L (deficient).

The SUCCAB assessment identified a significantly higher performance ratio in the group with adequate vitamin-C levels compared to those in the deficient group on reaction time, immediate recognition memory and delayed recognition tasks.

There were significantly higher scores in immediate recall on the HVLT-R, delayed recall, total recall in those with adequate plasma Vitamin-C concentrations. Similar results were seen on the SDMT.

Vitamin C should be assessed and supplemented accordingly and incorporated in the diet in all individuals but especially patients at risk for cognitive decline. Since humans cannot synthesize their own vitamin C, it is common to have an insufficiency especially in older individuals with chronic disease. Vitamin C levels in found in the tissues of the brain and muscle may be reduced to 25% of that of childhood. Serum vitamin C or oxidative stress markers looking at the functional need for water soluble antioxidants like 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) should be considered.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Travica N, Ried K, et al. Plasma Vitamin C concentrations and Cognitive Function: A Cross-Sectional Study. Front Aging Neurosci. 2019 Apr 2;11:72.





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