Scientists at the Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, University of California in Irvine have written an overview of the effects of nutrients on the aging brain.
They have identified a group of nutrients that can directly or indirectly protect the energy producing mitochondria from damage and improve their function and named the supplements "mitochondrial nutrients".
The direct protection includes preventing the generation of oxidants, scavenging free radicals or inhibiting oxidant reactivity, and elevating cofactors of defective mitochondrial enzymes stimulating their and therefore the mitochondria’s energy producing activity.
The indirect protection includes repairing oxidative damage by enhancing antioxidant defense systems either through activation of phase 2 detoxification enzymes or through increase in mitochondrial formation. In this review, ALA (Alphas-Lipoic Acid) is used as a prime example of mitochondrial nutrients, summarizing the protective effects and possible mechanisms of ALA and its derivatives on age-associated cognitive and mitochondrial dysfunction of the brain. ALA and its derivatives improve the age-associated decline of memory, improve mitochondrial structure and function, inhibit the age-associated increase of oxidative damage to brain tissue, elevate the levels of antioxidants, and restore the activity of key enzymes. In addition, co-administration of ALA with other mitochondrial nutrients, such as ALCAR (Acetyl-L-Carnitine) and Coenzyme Q10 appears more effective in improving cognitive dysfunction and reducing oxidative mitochondrial dysfunction. Therefore, administrating mitochondrial nutrients, such as ALA and its derivatives in combination with other mitochondrial nutrients to aged people and patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, may be an effective strategy for improving mitochondrial and cognitive dysfunction. The study is published in the January 2008 issue of the journal Neurochemical Research.
ALCAR and ALA may be therapeutic for treating mood disorders
Scientists at the University of Toronto, Institute of Medical Sciences state that mood disorders are tied into decreases in cognitive function, which are insufficiently treated with contemporary drug therapies.
The objective of the present study was to evaluate the putative neurotherapeutic effects of the mitochondrial cofactors, L-Carnitine, ALCAR(Acetyl-L-Carnitine), and ALA (Alpha-Lipoic Acid); and to provide a rationale for investigating their efficacy in the treatment of neurocognitive deficits associated with mood disorders.
They performed a search of PubMed English-language articles published between January 1966 and March 2007 conducted using the search terms carnitine and lipoic acid and the results were decisive. ALCAR and ALA offer neurotherapeutic effects (e.g., cognitive enhancement) via disparate mechanisms including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and metabolic regulation. Preliminary controlled trials in depressed geriatric populations also suggest an antidepressant effect with acetyl-L-carnitine. The conclusion was that ALCAR and ALA are pleiotropic (offering many effects) agents capable of offering neuroprotective and possibly cognitive-enhancing effects for neuropsychiatric disorders in which cognitive deficits are an integral feature. The study is published in the June 2008 issue of the journal Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.
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