Nutritional Outlook

Nutritional Outlook, September 2013

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Many studies highlight the broad potential and ability of favonoids, from foods and herbs, to preserve and enhance brain function via multiple pathways. While the efectiveness of favonoids for brain health is not an entirely new concept (Ginkgo biloba is a favonoid-rich herb that has been shown to support memory and confer antioxidant benefts), the wide spectrum of activity conferred by these compounds highlights their emerging potential to reduce the risk of dementia and enhance cognitive NUTRITIONAL OUTLOOK magenta cyan yellow black ■ capacity that is often diminished as a result of normal aging. Flavonoid Bioavailability and the Blood-Brain Barrier In general, favonoids are poorly absorbed as intact molecules from the digestive tract, which likely limits their ability to confer signifcant, direct antioxidant benefts in their ingested form. However, these molecules are extensively metabolized during their digestion, and their bioactive metabolites are absorbed in both the small intestine and, by way of post-bacterial processing, the large intestine (Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 2012). After absorption, favonoids must efectively cross the blood-brain barrier before conferring their neurological benefts. Animal studies suggest that favonoids can cross the blood-brain barrier, although the degree to which this happens is structurally-dependent. Studies have found that epicatechin and catechins, two classes of favonoids, in- 33 SEPTEMBER 2013 ES315724_NO1309_033.pgs 09.04.2013 04:16 UBM

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