Nutritional Outlook

Nutritional Outlook, April 2018

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■ NUTRITIONAL OUTLOOK 24 Brain Health APRIL 2018 But the subjects in the weightlifting and walk- ing group saw their hippocampal shrinkage plateau, cognitive performance increase 18%, and number of lesions fall. "T is was all possibly correlated to in- creases in levels of BDNF," or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, Pond says, which is a myokine protein that muscles release during exercise and that crosses the blood–brain barrier to ef ect improvements in cognitive function. And while we know that exercise— as well as fasting—triggers BDNF's release, Pond notes that his company's whole cof ee fruit extract (trade named Neurofactor) also stimulates BDNF production. T e company has three clinical trials un- derway, one of which looks specif cally at the extract's ef ects on subjects with MCI, and it's eagerly awaiting the results over the f rst half of 2018. "We've shown increases in BDNF," Pond says, "and now we're looking at func- tionality with MCI." T e importance of such testing can't be stressed enough when it comes to establish- ing nootropic sports formulations' legitimacy, for both regulators and consumers will de- mand proof of products' ef ectiveness. As Hecht puts it, "Continual research—credible human clinicals to show mechanism of ac- tion, results that may be expected, and valida- tion of these results—needs to be performed and disseminated to the media. To create the pull ef ect—where the target consumers seek these products out—will take time and ef- fort." But as any athlete can attest, time and ef ort pay of . Here are some branded nootropic ingredi- ents that researchers are putting to the test, and formulators are putting to use: Arginine. One branded ingredient (Nitro- sigine from Nutrition 21) is a novel com- plex of arginine and silicon stabilized with inositol, and Nutrition 21 has carried out clinical studies demonstrating its "signif cant ef ect on cognitive acuity, including process- ing speed and executive functioning," Ko- morowski says. One study 2 published in late 2016 showed that a 1,500-mg dose signif cantly improved subjects' performance on cog- nitive tests (specif cally, the Trail Making Test) requiring mental f exibility, process- ing speed, and executive functioning, says Komorowski. A previous clinical study sug- gested that the ingredient's mechanism of action might be through increased nitric oxide levels, and thus increased blood f ow carrying nutrients and glucose to the body and brain, he says. Spearmint. A branded water-soluble extract of spearmint leaves selectively bred for their high phenolic content (Neumentix Phenolic complex K110-42 from Kemin Human Nutri- tion and Health) has been the focus of ear- lier studies examining its ef ects on cognitive performance and working memory in older adults, as well as its potential antioxidant, neuroprotective, cholinergic, and neuro- trophic mechanistic benef ts, Colletti says. New human clinical trial 3 data show that supplementation with the extract supports cognition and enhances physical performance in young, healthy individuals. In the random- ized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 142 healthy, recreationally active men and women approximately 27 years old supple- mented with either 900 mg of the ingredient or a placebo for 90 days, with testing on days 0, 7, 30, and 90. Physical performance assessments used a 360-degree mobility device called the Makoto Arena II; cognitive measures came from a computerized cognitive-test battery. Researchers found that subjects taking the supplement had signif cantly higher sus- tained attention scores after 30 days—scores still present at day 90. T ey also displayed signif cantly improved physical choice reac- tion performance as early as day 7, and im- provements in the number of "hits" on the mobility device at day 30, which persisted throughout the study. "T e results suggest that the extract may benef t overall physical performance by sup- porting cognitive performance in a sports setting," Colletti says. "T ese f ndings build on earlier work showing benef ts in working memory, another executive function in the brain, and further emphasize the uniqueness of this special ingredient." Citicoline. A branded form of citicoline (Cognizin from Kyowa Hakko USA) has built a reputation for its ef ects on focus, at- tention, and mental recall, says Lovett. "It increases phosphatidylcholine," she adds, "which is critical for healthy brain function." A 2015 study 4 deployed the Finger Tap and Ruf 2&7 tests to show that the ingredient produced an increase in motor speed and attention, respectively, in adolescent males after 298 days of supplementation. Theacrine. T eacrine, a purine alkaloid found naturally in certain cof ee, tea, and cacao-like botanical species, resembles the chemical structure of caf eine, but it has "very dif erent physiological ef ects," says Lopez, whose company has a branded form (TeaCrine from Compound Solutions; Carlsbad, CA). For example, both caf eine and theacrine inhibit adenosine activity via two specif c receptors, and it's this inhibition, Lopez says, that sets of the biochemical processes that prevent the perception of fatigue and increase the attention, focus, and alertness that athletes prize. But, theacrine is a direct dopamine D1 and D2 receptor agonist, he adds, while caf eine is not. T ese agonist ac- tions help theacrine increase the dopamine signaling associated with attention, move- ment control, motor performance, task ini- tiation and completion, motivation, mood, and learning. Caf eine is also what's known as an or- thosteric adenosine inhibitor, meaning it directly blocks the receptor sites. Meanwhile, theacrine "is likely to act as an indirect, allo- steric modulator of these receptors," Lopez continues, "contributing to dif erences in habituation." So, while caf eine habituation can set in after as few as f ve days of consumption, "a signif cant attribute of theacrine is the lack of habituation, or the decrease in response known as tachyphylaxis," Lopez says. An eight-week study 5 involving 60 subjects who took 200 mg and 300 mg of theacrine showed no signs of the rapid tachyphylaxis typically associated with caf eine and other nootropics. Astaxanthin. Natural astaxanthin is a carot- enoid derived from the algae Haemotococcus pluvialis. A recent study designed to induce the fatigue and stress of daily life—and of ath- letic training—put a branded form (AstaReal astaxanthin from AstaReal) to the test. In the double-blind, placebo-controlled trial 6 , subjects consumed either 12 mg/day

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