Dairy phospholipids may help stress-related memory problems: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nervous system

Dairy phospholipids may help stress-related memory problems: Study
Memory problems associated with chronic stress may be eased by phospholipids derived from milk, suggests a new study.

Results of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial indicated that ‘chronically stressed men’ had “significant[ly] better memory performance”​ who received a daily phospholipid supplement compared with men receiving placebo.

“Our data suggest that phospholipid improves the ability of the organism to adapt to chronic stress. A dose of 1 percent phospholipid may be protective in participants who are persistently exposed to chronic stress with respect to both physical and mental health,”​ wrote researchers from Diagnostic Assessment and Clinical Research Organization (Daacro) in Germany.

The study was funded by Denmark’s Arla Foods Ingredients and used the Lacprodan PL-20 ingredient.

Stress and its effects

According to the American Psychological Association​, stress can affect everyone at some time, and can lead to both mental and physical health issues.

While some stress can be beneficial, extreme and long-term stress can produce detrimental effects to the “immune, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and central nervous systems”​, adds the APA.

For the new study, the researchers recruited 75 chronically stressed men aged between 30 and 51, and randomly assigned them to receive cow’s milk with 0.5 or 1 percent phospholipids, or a placebo for six weeks. Phospholipids are the predominant lipids found in the cell membranes.

The researchers note that phospholipids “are most concentrated in the brain and have a variety of regulatory and structural functions such as activity modulation of receptors, enzymes, and signaling molecules”​.

After six weeks of supplementation, the researchers reported no differences between any of the groups in response to acute stress, but participants aged over 41 and receiving the high dose phospholipid milk did display a significantly better memory performance as measured using the Trier Social Stress Test, compared to similarly aged participants in the other two groups.

Commenting on the potential mechanism, the researchers report that the effects are likely to be linked to the hypothalamicpituitary-adrenal axis (HPAA), which reportedly allows “adaptation to stressful challenges”.

“Because the hippocampus affects HPAA function, one may speculate that the supplementation of PL-enriched milk may improve cortisol availability and memory function in the elderly population via restoring hippocampal functions in our population consisting of chronically stressed men,”​ they added.

Source: Nutrition Research
Volume 31, Issue 6, Pages 413-420
“Milk-based phospholipids increase morning cortisol availability and improve memory in chronically stressed men”
Authors: M. Schubert, C. Contreras, N. Franz, J. Hellhammer

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