In a recent study published in the journal Brain Sciences, researchers explored the role of β-carotene in maintaining cognitive performance and mental health. The study investigated whether β-carotene could have positive effects on cognition when consumed alone or in combination with other dietary components.
To conduct the study, researchers gathered relevant studies from various databases including Scopus, PubMed, and Web of Science. They employed the MySLR digital platform, equipped with the Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) algorithm, to analyze and assess the quality of the obtained articles.
The study focused on adult participants without mental disorders and included various types of studies such as randomized clinical trials, prospective or cross-sectional studies, and longitudinal studies.
Initially, a total of 168 studies were identified, but after applying eligibility criteria and eliminating duplicates, 16 studies were ultimately included in the review.
Cognitive function is crucial for an individual’s overall health and well-being, encompassing various aspects such as learning, memory, attention, language, and social cognition. Imbalances within the brain structure, molecular/cellular disorientation, neural interactions, and protein-protein interaction networks can lead to cognitive dysfunction.
Cognitive function changes throughout life, with aging being associated with cognitive impairment. A recent study estimated that about 19% of individuals under 75 years old experience cognitive dysfunction, increasing to around 29% among those aged 85 and above.
Alzheimer’s disease, a brain disorder that affects memory and thinking skills, affects approximately 30% of the global population over 65 years old. Chemobrain, a form of cognitive impairment, is common among cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Additionally, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been linked to temporary cognitive impairment known as brain fog.
Given the prevalence of cognitive decline, it is crucial to develop effective dietary interventions to prevent cognitive impairment.
Carotenoids, including β-carotene, are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can positively impact cognitive health. However, currently, there are no specific guidelines regarding the optimal dosage of carotenoid intake for favorable cognitive outcomes.
β-carotene is a natural carotenoid and a dietary source of pro-vitamin A. It possesses significant free radical scavenging and antioxidant properties due to its abundant unsaturated bonds. It can be found in fruits, vegetables, soup/bouillon, and food coloring additives.
While there is limited research on the association between β-carotene and cognitive function, some studies have suggested a connection. One study found an inverse relationship between dietary β-carotene intake and cognitive function decline. Another study observed a positive correlation between high β-carotene levels in the blood and improved semantic memory performance.
The Rotterdam study indicated that lower β-carotene consumption is associated with decreased cognitive performance, while long-term higher consumption of β-carotene is linked to a lower risk of poor cognitive function.
Several randomized clinical trials have also supported the protective role of β-carotene against cognitive impairment. For instance, the Physicians’ Health Study recommended a dosage of 50 mg of β-carotene every alternate day to enhance verbal and cognitive memory in adults.
Studies have further shown that combining β-carotene with other antioxidants such as zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin E can significantly impact cognitive function. Notably, these effects were more pronounced among non-smokers.
Mechanistically, β-carotene and vitamin E work together to prevent lipid peroxidation, although high antioxidant intake can sometimes increase lipid peroxidation and DNA oxidative damage. Recent studies have suggested that β-carotene can alleviate brain fog through the calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IV (CAMKIV) pathway.
In conclusion, the current study reviewed the clinical evidence supporting the benefits of β-carotene as a nutrition intervention for maintaining cognitive function. Most epidemiological and randomized control studies have shown the positive effects of β-carotene on cognitive health.
When combined with other nutrients with high antioxidant properties, such as zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin E, β-carotene demonstrates even more significant impact on cognitive function.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it