Science Update

New study demonstrates lutein and zeaxanthin help increase brain function

According to a recent study from the University of Georgia published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society researchers demonstrated the effect of lutein and zeaxanthin on neurocognitive functioning. The research team used functional MRI (fMRI) technology to examine how levels of these compounds affect brain activity.

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

In this new study researchers used fMRI technology to monitor the brain activity of over 40 adults between 65 and 86 years old. They found that individuals with higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin did not require as much brain activity to complete a memory-oriented task.

The levels of lutein and zeaxanthin were assessed through serum and noninvasive flicker photometry. There is a natural deterioration process of the brain as people age but the brain compensates to some degree by increasing brain activity to maintain the same level of cognitive performance.

As a result individuals with lower levels of lutein and zeaxanthin used more brain power and relied on different parts of the brain in order to remember the word pairings they were taught. On the other hand those with higher levels of these compounds minimized brain activity to complete the task.

I shared a study a month ago in the journal Redox Biology in which researchers demonstrated that n-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) may prevent the metabolic declines associated with aging.

Patients and healthcare providers are always seeking prevention strategies and ways to minimize age-related memory decline in older adults. Dietary modification and nutritional supplements are the best strategies to help to support this.

Lutein zeaxanthin NAC vitamin D and fish oils can be used to provide protective measures against the natural aging process in older adults. An organic acid test is a great way to identify nutrient deficiencies oxidative stress and detoxification impairment. In addition assessing methylation cofactors such as folate and B12 are also important as these are common deficiencies in the elderly.

Source: Cutter A. Lindbergh Catherine M. Mewborn Billy R. Hammond Lisa M. Renzi-Hammond Joanne M. Curran-Celentano L. Stephen Miller. Relationship of Lutein and Zeaxanthin Levels to Neurocognitive Functioning: An fMRI Study of Older Adults. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society 2016; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S1355617716000850