Grapes plus blueberries may boost cognitive function in college students

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Wavebreakmedia
© Getty Images / Wavebreakmedia

Related tags: attention, Memory, Polyphenols, Cognitive function

Acute supplementation with polyphenol-rich extracts from grape and blueberries may improve cognitive performance for college students, suggests a new study.

A single dose of commercially available Memophenol, which is produced by French company Activ’Inside, was found to boost working memory and attention during an hour-long cognitive performance test, according to findings published in Antioxidants​.

The study, which was funded by Activ’Inside, is reported to be the first time that such benefits have been reported.

“Although further work is necessary to understand the underlying mechanisms of action of these compounds, findings emanating from this study provide further substantiation for the development of EFSA/FDA health claims on specific polyphenol containing products and cognitive enhancement,”​ wrote scientists from the University of Bordeaux (France), Activ’Inside, the University of Parma (Italy), and the University of East Anglia (UK).

“Consumption of [polyphenol rich extract made from grape and blueberries] coupled with a healthy lifestyle may be a safe alternative to acutely improve cognitive performance during a sustained cognitive effort.”

Memophenol

The ingredient is exclusively distributed in North America by Seppic.

Sebastien Merchet, Nutrition Business Development Manager North America for Seppic, told us that the ingredient is currently used in between 10 and 15 products in the US, with most of them targeting an older population based on Memophenol first clinical study on seniors.

“We have recently been targeting the younger active population and students studying for an exam following the latest clinical study and publication on Memophenol,” ​he said.

Study details

The researchers recruited 30 healthy students and randomly assigned them to consume 600 mg of the polyphenol rich extract made from grape and blueberries (PEGB) or placebo. Ninety minutes after consumption, all the students underwent a set of tests lasting for one hour. These included serial subtraction tasks, a rapid visual information processing (RVIP) task and a visual analogical scale.

The results showed that PEGB consumption led to improvements the total number of answers and the number of correct answers, and percentage of correct answers in the serial subtraction tasks (STS).

“Indeed, a 2.5-fold increase in STS variation net scores in the PEGB group compared to placebo,” ​wrote the researchers.

However, no effect was observed on flow-mediated dilation (FMD), a measure of a blood vessel's healthy ability to relax).

“Placed in cognitively demanding conditions, participants felt an alteration in mental fatigue, alertness, cognitive performance, and anxiety. Our results are aligned with previous studies employing such paradigms and demonstrate the validity of our protocol,” ​wrote the researchers. “Unlike previously reported for cocoa polyphenols, subjective ratings for mental fatigue under PEGB did not reach significance.

“However, our student cohort reported a positive effect on cognitive performance. Such discrepancy might be related to the product sourcing and composition along with the food bioactives available in our product (flavan-3-ols, flavonols, acid phenolic, stilbene, and anthocyanins versus flavan-3-ols alone).”

The researchers concluded: “In healthy young adults, acute supplementation with a PEGB was efficient at improving cognitive performance and in particular working memory and attention during a highly effortful cognitive challenge. “

What’s next?

Benoit Lemaire, CEO of Activ'Inside, told NutraIngredients-USA that the company does not currently have any plans to conduct a longer-term clinical study on students. However, the company has conducted a 30-day open study on students, supplemented with 600mg of Memophenol per day. 

“At the end of the study 3 out of 5 students perceive an improvement in cognitive performance and 3 out of 4 students recommend Memophenol,” ​he said.
“Moreover, the effect of Memophenol on memory is shown in a randomized, bicentric, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study​,” ​he added. “Two hundred and fifteen healthy seniors were supplemented with 600mg of Memophenol or placebo for six months, and the results showed that Memophenol supplementation significantly improves both short-term and long-term memories.” 

Activ'Inside has two patents for the ingredient relating to seniors and students, added Seppic’s Merchet.

Source: Antioxidants
Volume 8, Issue 12, Page 650; doi: 10.3390/antiox8120650
“Acute Intake of a Grape and Blueberry Polyphenol-Rich Extract Ameliorates Cognitive Performance in Healthy Young Adults During a Sustained Cognitive Effort”
Authors: P. Philip et al.

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