DISPATCHES FROM VITAFOODS EUROPE 2012

Majority of consumers do not achieve ‘optimal’ brain nutrition

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Recommendations for dietary intake of vitamins and minerals may be helping to battle deficiencies, but they do not do enough to achieve optimal nutrition for brain health – suggesting a ‘growing case for supplementation’.

Speaking with NutraIngredients at the recent Vitafoods exposition and conference, Professor David Kennedy, director of the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre at the Northumbria University, UK, suggested current guidelines do not go far enough in guiding the general population towards an optimal intake of nutrients.

“Our nutritional dietary recommendations from governments really give us levels that are designed to make the vast majority of the population not suffer from a disease with not having enough of a particular vitamin,”​ said Kennedy.

“Obviously just avoiding a disease isn’t good enough,”​ he stated. “The optimal level has to be a long way above the level that will just stop you from having a disease.”

The expert explained that all vitamins and minerals are to some extent essential for brain functioning: “They have very wide ranging roles and they are involved in every single physiological process in the brain right the way from delivery of metabolic substrates, metabolism itself and the clearing up of homocysteine.”

Growing case for supplementation?

Kennedy revealed that recent research by his group have suggested that many people do not have high enough levels of many of these levels to achieve optimal brain functions – noting that supplementation studies have shown a daily dose of vitamins and minerals can boost brain functions, and even help with mood and stress.

“What we found across a series of studies is that simple supplementation with a multivitamin improves brain function in children and adults.”

“This suggests to me in particular that people cannot have had optimal nutritional status to start with … or we wouldn’t have been able to improve their brain function by giving them a simple multivitamin,” ​said Kennedy.

“If you don’t have an optimal diet, I think there is a growing case for supplementation with a good quality multivitamin.”

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