Study: Intake of Vitamin C improved brain cognitive function – MINA

Vitamin C gets a lot of buzz during cold season, but it turns out
that the nutrient also has a substantial effect on the human brain.
Researchers from Australia’s Centre for Human Psychopharmacology at
Swinburne University of Technology and the National Institute of
Integrative Medicine have found a link between vitamin C levels and cognitive function.

The antioxidant properties of vitamin C have been studied
extensively, but its biological roles in the brain have only become a
topic of interest recently. Animal studies show that the vitamin plays a
crucial role in neurodevelopment by impacting not only the general
development of neurons but also neuron differentiation and the formation
of myelin.

Given its importance in the central nervous system, many studies have
looked into whether a person’s vitamin C status is related to their
cognitive performance. However, the review carried out by the Australian
researchers is the first one to examine the effects of vitamin C levels on cognitive performance in people with normal cognitive functioning as well as those who are cognitively impaired.

The researchers looked at studies published on the topic between 1980
and January of this year. Many of these used the Mini Mental State
Examination, which is a reliable questionnaire that estimates the
severity of an individual’s cognitive impairment and can show its
progression over time. It measures cognitive domains such as recall,
calculation, language, orientation and the ability to follow basic
commands.

The researchers selected 50 studies for inclusion from a pool of 500
articles. Fourteen of the studies involved participants who were
cognitively impaired – for example, with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia – while 36 studies involved participants who were cognitively intact.

They found that among those who were cognitively intact, blood
concentrations of vitamin C were correlated with cognitive ability; no
such correlation existed in those with cognitive impairment. In
addition, cognitively impaired individuals have significantly lower
blood concentrations of vitamin C than their non-cognitively impaired
counterparts. Some experts have posited that those with dementia are
elderly and often unable to make smart dietary choices or chew their
food well, so nutrient deficiencies are to be expected. Another
explanation for the deficiency in those with cognitive impairment,
however, is the increased oxidation of the vitamin as a response to the
heightened production of free radicals in the brain.

Researchers call for further studies

The researchers are calling for more comprehensive studies into the
relationship between cognition and vitamin C among people who are
cognitively intact that takes confounding factors into account, like
vitamin E and vitamin B12.

A study that was published in the September 2014 issue of Nutrients
found that vitamin C was a vital factor in preventing cognitive decline
in aging as well as neurodegenerative disorders. A deficiency in
Vitamin C can also impact brain function during development or
regeneration after suffering a traumatic brain injury.

Getting more vitamin C in your diet

It is estimated that as much as 15 percent of adults
in the Western world have a vitamin C deficiency, and it’s particularly
prevalent in those who are elderly, smokers, pregnant, or have a low
socio-economic status.

This is unfortunate because the vitamin has been shown to help many
of today’s deadliest ailments, such as cancer and cardiovascular
disease. Vitamin C is not stored in the human body, so it must be
replaced through our diet each day. Top sources of Vitamin C include guava, Acerola cherries,
oranges, broccoli, red peppers, kale, strawberries and Brussels
sprouts. A healthy diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables is a great
way to ensure your body gets plenty of this essential vitamin.

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