Antioxidants’ Benefits on Mental Health
Let’s discover a healthy balance of Phytonutrients, Antioxidants and Carotenoids to promote your mental, cognitive, and cardiovascular health.
Studies have suggested that the intake of antioxidant nutrients can cut down the homocysteine (an amino acid in the blood) levels, counteracting the negative inflammatory results related to Alzheimer’s disease.
Daily intake of liquids rich in antioxidants for a period of 8 months helped contribute towards a slighter increase of homocysteine in comparison to the placebo group used in the study. The Journal of Neurological Sciences reported that these results were even higher in patients suffering from moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
Carried out by researchers at the Catholic University of San Antonio (in sunny Murcia, Spain), the principal finding of this study was the discovery of a decrease in homocysteine concentration associated with the intake of antioxidants. This was more evident in patients with moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the researchers “the dietary polyphenolics provide numerous health benefits, such as anti-inflammation and antioxidation; our results suggest that polyphenol antioxidant supplement can reduce the effects of inflammation and cardiovascular risk associated to Alzheimer’s disease”.
Homocysteine’s role in Alzheimer’s Disease
As previous epidemiological research has shown, there is a relation between dementia (confirmed or suspected) and elevated levels of homocysteine. In fact, the Framingham research states that the risk of mental disorders is double in patients with levels of homocysteine of over fourteen micromoles per liter of serum.
According to the researchers, “It is not clear, however, if an elevation of homocysteine concentration is a “risk factor” with a direct pathophysiological role in the development of the disease or merely a “risk marker” reflecting an underlying process such as oxidative stress, responsible for both the high homocysteine concentrations and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.”
They further explained “At present we know that elevations in plasma tHcy temporally precede the development of dementia and that there is a continuous, inverse linear relation between plasma homocysteine concentrations and cognitive performance in older persons”.
Facts of the Study
One hundred women took part in a clinical trial carried out by researchers in Murcia, Spain. Out of these one hundred women, 52 were healthy with no Alzheimer’s disease, 24 suffered from moderate Alzheimer’s, and another 24 were diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
The women were, at random, allocated in one of the two following groups: a group that would receive a daily intake of placebo for eight months and a group that would take a supplement rich in polyphenol and antioxidants made of green tea and apple extracts, apple and lemon juice, along with Vitamin C and B complex vitamins.
The results showed a lower increase of homocysteine in the group that was taking the antioxidant rich beverage: 11.7 micromoles per liter compared to the 15.63 of the group that was taking the placebo. Moreover, the Alzheimer patients’ level of homocysteine dropped to 10.49 micromoles per liter, while the patients treated with the placebo had level of 16.58 micromoles per liter.
The researchers stated “If we take the value homocysteine (tHcy) 14.0 micromoles per liter as a “risk value” associated with cardiovascular alterations on neuro-degenerative diseases, we can state that this concentration was higher in those subjects that took the placebo drink in the control group and in the group of AD in the moderate phase, whereas the subjects of those groups that took the drink rich in polyphenolic antioxidants beverage maintained their homocysteine levels lower than 14.0 micromoles per liter”.
The results shown in the clinical test helped support the theory that antioxidant drinks help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases related to hyper-homocysteinemia in patients that suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
Evolution of the Homocysteine Hypothesis
Prior to the Homocysteine Hypothesis, hyper-homocysteinemia was considered a factor of risk for atherosclerotic disease, which is associated with heart disease.
The relation was established by observing kids with homocystinuria, a genetic condition that results in high levels of homocysteine, which are indicators of cardiovascular risk. This observation was transferred to the general population, with the theory that Vitamin B supplements can lower the levels of homocysteine in blood and, consequently the cardiovascular risk.
Researchers from the University of Oxford reported their findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine (Vol. 170, pp. 1622-1631).