Protecting eyesight and memory is important for everyone, particularly the aging population. While some ingredients such as lutein and phospholipids have been shown to benefit specifically the eyes or the brain, others such as omega-3 fatty acids are believed to benefit both. Here is a look at some memory- and eyesight-boosting ingredients.
There are many facets to the brain health market that look at improved cognition, mental sharpness, and brain development. Memory is a major category with a myriad of ingredients showing potential to help maintain memory.
• Omega-3 fatty acids. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are important for brain function and development as well as for their potential to benefit depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease. A common feature of these disorders is low levels of the marine or fish oil omega-3s EPA and DHA. Sometimes the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid is reduced, too, according to Fats of Life (www.fatsoflife.com).
Titova et al. (2012) suggested that dietary intake of EPA and DHA may be linked to improved cognitive health in late life. The researchers tested whether older adults with a high dietary intake of EPA and DHA would have higher cognitive test scores and greater brain volume than those with low dietary intake of these fatty acids. The dietary intake of EPA and DHA was determined by a 7-day food protocol in 252 cognitively healthy 70-year-old adults. At age 75, the subjects’ global cognitive function was examined and their brain volumes were measured by magnetic resonance imaging. The self-reported 7-day dietary intake of EPA and DHA of the subjects at age 70 was positively associated with global gray matter volume and increased global cognitive performance score. The cross-sectional findings suggested that dietary intake of EPA and DHA may be linked to improved cognitive health in late life.
• Blueberries. Blueberries are high in antioxidant content, primarily anthocyanins. Anthocyanins give blueberries their color and are the major contributors to antioxidant activity, according to U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Folsom, Calif. (phone 916-983-0111, www.blueberry.org). Malin et al. (2011) suggested that a considerable degree of age-related object memory decline can be prevented and reversed by brief maintenance on blueberry-enriched diets in aging rats. Devore et al. (2012) indicated that greater long-term intakes of berries and flavonoids were associated with slower rates of cognitive decline in older women. Beginning in 1980, a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire was administered every four years to Nurses’ Health Study subjects. The results showed that greater intakes of blueberries and strawberries were associated with slower rates of cognitive decline. The data also indicated that berry intake appeared to delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years.
• Green tea. Antioxidants from green tea, particularly epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), are believed to aid memory. Borgwardt et al. (2012) examined the effects of green tea extract on brain activation in humans. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was recorded while 12 healthy subjects performed a working memory task after the administration of a control beverage or 250 ml or 500 ml of a beverage with green tea extract. The results showed that green tea extract increased activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a key area that mediates working memory processing in the human brain.
Kemin Industries Inc., Des Moines, Iowa (phone 515-559-5100, www.kemin.com), offers the AssuriTEA® line of water-extracted tea ingredients. AssuriTEA Wellbeing combines the complimentary antioxidant mechanisms offered by the polyphenols present in select green and black teas. AssuriTEA Green is a water-extracted, 100% natural, highquality green tea that utilizes the whole tea leaf. It is an alternative for consumers who want the benefits of brewed green tea but in the convenience of an easy-to-use dietary supplement and/or food and beverage.
Taiyo International Inc., Minneapolis, Minn. (phone 763-398-3003, www.taiyointernational.com), offers Suntheanine, which is produced via a fermentation process that mimics the natural process in green tea leaves, resulting in a 100% pure L-isomer-theanine. It is not an extract of green tea; rather, it is a patented enzymatic fermentation process using the amino acids ethylamine and L-glutamine, which assures an isomerically pure L-theanine. Human clinical trials have shown Suntheanine to promote an alert state of relaxation without drowsiness. Park et al. (2011) showed that a combination of green tea extract and L-theanine (LGNC-07) has potential as an intervention for cognitive improvement. The study examined 91 subjects with mild cognitive impairment. For 16 weeks, those in the experimental group took 1,680 mg of LGNC-07 and those in the control group received an equivalent amount of maltodextrin and lactose. The results showed that taking LGNC-07 led to improvements in memory by marginally increasing delayed recognition.