Does Beta Carotene Improve Cognitive Function?
For those who are concerned about age-associated memory impairment, the results of a recent study suggest that taking a 50 mg dose of Beta Carotene, on alternate days, may potentially provide cognitive benefits against the effects of oxidative stress on brain aging.
“Oxidative stress contributes to brain aging. Antioxidant treatment, especially over the long term, might confer cognitive benefits.
“We added cognitive testing to the Physicians’ Health Study II (PHSII), a randomized trial of beta carotene and other vitamin supplements for chronic disease prevention. The PHSII is a continuation of the Physicians’ Health Study (PHS), which had randomized male participants to low-dose aspirin and beta carotene.”
“Among 1904 newly recruited subjects (mean treatment duration, 1 year), cognition was similar across treatment assignments. Among 4052 continuing participants from the PHS (mean treatment duration, 18 years), the mean global score was significantly higher in the beta carotene group than in the placebo group (mean difference in z scores, 0.047 standard units; P = .03). On verbal memory, men receiving long-term beta carotene supplementation also performed significantly better than the placebo group (mean difference in z scores, 0.063; P = .007).
“We did not find an impact of short-term beta carotene supplementation on cognitive performance, but long-term supplementation may provide cognitive benefits.”
[box type="important"]To reiterate, the results from this study suggest that beta carotene supplementation may be effective at providing cognitive benefits when used long-term as opposed to short-term. I guess if your exam is tomorrow, this probably means that taking 50 mg of beta carotene won’t help.[/box]
- Grodstein F, Kang JH, Glynn RJ, Cook NR, Gaziano JM. A randomized trial of beta carotene supplementation and cognitive function in men: the Physicians’ Health Study II. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Nov 12;167(20):2184-90.