Ashwagandha for cognition
A single dose of ashwagandha improved executive function, attention, and short-term and working memory. In this study, 13 healthy volunteers, aged 18 to 59, took a placebo or 400 mg of ashwagandha before taking a six-hour battery of cognitive tests. After four days’ rest, participants switched placebo and ashwagandha and repeated the tests. All kept a food diary during the four days preceding each test.
During the ashwagandha phases, both groups saw improvements in working memory and attention, including reaction time and accuracy of sorting cards, reasoning, learning, executive control, responding to changing schedules of reinforcement, and impulsiveness.
Ashwagandha appears to have cognition-enhancing properties that may help sustain and preserve cognitive performance and memory throughout life, which suggests adults may benefit from regular supplementation, doctors said.
Reference: International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health; 2022, Article No. 191911852
Omega-3s boost brain health in younger adults
Even at younger ages, it appears adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet protects for most brain-aging factors. This study measured DHA and EPA omega-3 levels and compared brain volume and cognitive function in 2,183 participants, average age 46, who were free from dementia and stroke. Some participants (22 percent) carried a gene, APOE4, that raises chances for heart, circulatory, and cognitive issues.
Overall, higher omega-3 levels were linked to better abstract reasoning, and to larger volumes of the hippocampus, which plays a major role in learning and memory. Carriers of the APOE4 gene who had higher omega-3 levels saw less small-vessel disease than those with lower omega-3 levels.
Those with lower levels of DHA tended to have smaller brain volumes and a vascular (blood vessel) pattern of cognitive impairment, even in those free of clinical dementia. “Intervening early to maintain the optimal Omega-3 Index value of at least 8 percent could play an important role in staving off cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease,” doctors concluded.
Reference: Neurology; October, 2022, Article No. 201296
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