Higher circulating alpha-carotene is associated with better overall cognitive functions
July 7th 2022 – New York, USA – The possibility of acquiring Alzheimer’s disease (AD) increases with age, genetic factors, and numerous medical risk factors. A group of researchers from the Rush University Medical Center and Harvard School of Public Health, shows that in a US population at risk for AD with a suboptimal diet, high levels of plasma alpha-carotene were associated with better overall cognitive functions vis a vis global cognition, and episodic and semantic memory.
Several studies have also shown that dietary and lifestyle factors may influence risk, implying that diet intervention has the potential to be effective preventive strategies for AD1. There is emerging evidence that carotenoids, through their potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, may have a favorable impact on cognitive function2.
The study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science involved 295 American adults between the ages of 65 and 84 who were at risk for AD and eating a suboptimal diet. It looked at the effects of the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet to prevent cognitive decline3. They examined the association between dietary intake of carotenoids and cognition using objective measurement of plasma concentrations among participants in the MIND diet. They also looked at the dietary components that contribute to the circulating alpha-carotene and other carotenoids levels that are related to better cognitive performance.
Results from the study revealed that higher circulating plasma levels of alpha-carotene were associated with higher global cognitive and semantic memory scores. On the other hand, lutein and zeaxanthin levels were found to be favorably related to a semantic memory score. Plasma alpha-carotene is highly correlated with the total consumption of fruits and vegetables, particularly carrots and other root vegetables.
“A dietary pattern that featured greater consumption of vegetables other than green leafy vegetables and fruits corresponded to high alpha-carotene in the blood was associated with higher cognition scores. Using blood nutrient levels as objective markers could characterize individuals’ dietary patterns, which could facilitate a targeted dietary intervention to prevent cognitive decline”, the researchers concluded.
“Cognitive decline or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a common aging problem that leads to overall slowness or difficulties in learning new information and paying sustained attention. Some may lead to dementia, mental disorders or other neurological conditions – which later will require greater attention, care and financial assistance”, said Dr. Ariati Aris, Scientific Affairs Specialist at PhytoGaia.
“A simple and cost-effective option in maintaining healthy cognitive function is through lifestyle, exercise and a higher intake of antioxidant or alpha-carotene-rich diet like carrots. While the MIND diet may help but more often than not, diet alone is not sufficient to attain and sustain a high enough level of alpha-carotene. As such, dietary supplementation with a multi-carotenoid or multi vitamin high in alpha-carotene may be the answer in our daily hectic lifestyle as a dietary measure to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and protect against Alzheimer’s disease, regardless of any risk variables”, added Dr. Ariati Aris.
“PhytoGaia’s natural mixed carotene (CaroGaiaTM) has the highest alpha-carotene in the market. It’s the best option for companies / brands that are interested to formulate a multi-carotenoids or multi-vitamins with high alpha-carotene level”, added Mr. Bryan See, Vice President of PhytoGaia.
- Barnard, N.D. et al. (2014). Dietary and lifestyle guidelines for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiology of Aging, S74-8.
- Honarvar, N.M. et al. (2017). Molecular anti-inflammatory mechanisms of retinoids and carotenoids in Alzheimer’s disease: A review of current evidence. Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, 61, 289–304.
- Liu, X. et al. (2021). Higher circulating α-carotene was associated with better cognitive function: an evaluation among the MIND trial participants. Journal of Nutritional Science, 16;10: e64.