A nutritional supplement high in antioxidants and other natural components can help boost the speed at which the brains of older adults process information. A decline in the underlying brain skills needed to think, remember and learn is normal in ageing. "The basis for the use of polyphenol-rich nutritional supplements as a moderator of age-related cognitive decline is the age-related increase in oxidative stress and inflammation," said study co-principal and investigator Paula C. Bickford, professor at the university's Health Morsani College of Medicine.
The nutritional supplement, containing extracts from blueberries and green tea combined with vitamin D3 and amino acids - including carnosine - is developed by researchers at the University of South Florida. The researchers tested the supplement, named NT-020, in a clinical trial enrolling 105 healthy adults aged 65 to 85.
"After two months, test results showed modest improvements in two measures of cognitive processing speed for those taking NT-020 compared to those taking placebo," said professor Brent Small, school of aging studies, the University of South Florida.
"Processing speed is most often affected early on in the course of cognitive aging. Successful performance in processing tasks often underlines more complex cognitive outcomes, such as memory and verbal ability," Small added.
Blueberries, a major ingredient in the NT-020 formula, are rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant containing a polyphenolic, or natural phenol substructure, said the study published in the journal Rejuvenation Research.
Therapies to improve the cognitive health of older adults are critically important for lessening declines in mental performance as people age. While physical activity and cognitive training are among the efforts aimed at preventing or delaying cognitive decline, dietary modifications and supplements have recently generated considerable interest.