The brain is the center of thought and emotion. It makes us conscious, emotional, and intelligent. It’s the control center for movement, sleep, thirst, and virtually every other vital activity necessary to survival. It controls emotions – love, hate, fear, anger, elation, and sadness; and receives and processes countless signals sent from other parts of the body and from the external environment.
Over the past three decades, research studies have shown that the chemistry and function of both the developing and the mature brain are influenced by diet and dietary supplements.
In a recent human study, the effects of a nutraceutical formulation (NF) (consisting of folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin E, S-adenosylmethionine, N-acetyl cysteine, acetyl-L-carnitine) on memory and cognitive performance in community-dwelling adults without dementia were assessed by two tests: the California Verbal Learning Test II and the Trial-Making Test.
The California Verbal Learning Test II (CVLT-II) is a neuropsychological test which can be used to assess an individual’s verbal memory abilities. With the CVLT-II, subjects are read a list of words and are asked to recall them across a series of trials.
The Trial Making Test (TMT) is a neuropsychological test of visual attention, and task switching. The task requires a subject to “connect-the-dots” on 25 consecutive targets on a sheet of paper. Because it requires a variety of mental abilities including visual scanning, motor function, and letter and number recognition the TMT is a suitable measure of the overall integrity of the brain.
Adults of both genders without dementia consumed either the nutraceutical product NF, or placebo. Participants receiving NF, but not placebo, improved statistically and clinically in CVLT-II and TMT tests. Both groups improved further during a 3-month extension. In a separate 6-month trial, additional individuals displayed identical improvement. Performance declined to baseline following withdrawal of NF, and statistically improved when participants resumed taking NF. An increased percentage of participants 74 years or older did not show improvement with NF, which may relate to age-related difficulties in adsorption and/or basal nutritional deficiencies, or age-related cognitive decline during the course of this study. These findings support the benefit of nutritional supplements for cognitive performance and suggest that additional supplementation may be required for the elderly.