An easily absorbed curcumin supplement improves memory performance
According to a study, consuming a certain type of curcumin every day helped to improve memory in individuals who had mild age-related memory loss.
Curcumin is the compound found in turmeric that comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and gives Indian curry its golden-orange color.
The research looked at how a curcumin supplement that’s easily absorbed affected memory performance in dementia-free individuals, as well as the potential effect of curcumin on the microscopic tangles and plaques in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s.
Curcumin has been demonstrated in laboratory research to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has also been suggested as an explanation for why elderly people in India have a reduced prevalence of Alzheimer’s and greater cognitive performance.
Exactly how curcumin affects the brain is uncertain, but it could be on account of its ability to reduce inflammation in the brain, which has been associated with both major depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
The placebo-controlled study included 40 individuals aged between 50 and 90 with mild memory issues. They were randomly allocated to take either 90 mg of curcumin or a placebo twice a day for 18 months.
Standardized cognitive assessments were administered to all 40 individuals at the beginning of the study and intervals of 6 months, and curcumin blood levels were monitored at the beginning of the study and again after 18 months. PET scans were administered to 30 of the participants to determine the tau and amyloid levels in their brains at the beginning of the study and again after 18 months.
Significant improvements in attention and memory abilities were experienced by the individuals taking curcumin, while the individuals who received a placebo didn’t experience any improvements. The individuals taking curcumin improved by 28% in memory tests over the 18 months.
Mild improvements in mood were also experienced by individuals taking curcumin, and their brain PET scans revealed significantly less tau and amyloid signals in the hypothalamus and amygdala compared to individuals taking placebos.
The hypothalamus and amygdala are areas of the brain that manage some emotional and memory functions.
Turmeric and curcumin supplements can however be difficult to absorb at significant levels. Absorption can be improved though when combined with other ingredients such as a compound in black pepper known as piperine which has been found to increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%
Vitamin D and curcumin combination could help clear amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s
In another study, researchers discovered that a type of vitamin D in combination with curcumin could help in stimulating the immune system to help clear amyloid beta from the brain, which forms the Alzheimer’s plaques.
Vitamin D3 is an essential nutrient for the immune system and bone health and is synthesized from the sunshine through the skin. Vitamin D deficiencies can happen throughout the winter or in individuals such as those with Alzheimer’s who spend lots of time indoors.
Making use of blood samples taken from 9 Alzheimer’s patients, 1 individual who had mild cognitive impairment, and 3 healthy control individuals, monocyte cells were isolated, which transform into macrophages that function as the clean-up crew for the immune system, moving through the body and brain and gobble up waste products such as amyloid beta. The macrophages were then incubated with synthetic or natural curcumin, vitamin D3, and amyloid beta.
The researchers determined that naturally occurring curcumin wasn’t easily absorbed, that it was broken down rapidly before it could be used, and that it had a poor potency level, making it less effective in comparison to synthetic curcuminoids.
They discovered that the surface binding of amyloid beta was enhanced to macrophages by the curcuminoids and that the uptake and absorption of amyloid beta were strongly stimulated in macrophages by vitamin D in most individuals.
Given that curcumin and vitamin D function differently with regard to the immune system, each used alone or a combination of the two could be more effective depending on the person.
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