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There are nearly 10 million new cases of dementia yearly – a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and ability to perform daily activities. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia (WHO, 2020).

Nutrition plays a fundamental role in supporting structural and functional development of the human brain since conception, throughout early infancy and extending into later life.  Incorporating chia seeds, B vitamins and DHA in beverages may add more value than before for better brain health.

Chia Seed – Good for Brains?

Benexia® is the world’s leading producer of high-quality chia seeds that are naturally gluten-free, non-GMO and coming from sustainably-farmed sources. The chia seed absorbs water in liquid quickly which contributes to the mouthfeel and texture in beverages. It has a unique gelling composition with uniformly distributed seed suspension.

The chia seed has always been linked to good brain health with its powerful punch of nutrients. This poppy seed offers a good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an unsaturated fatty acid that can be converted into other Omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in the activity of the nervous system, cognitive development, memory-related learning and the development of brain synapses. It can be of a great benefit in preventing neuronal diseases and supporting mental health (Onneken, 2018), as well as reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline including Alzheimer’s disease.

Give Your Brain a Surge of B Vitamins

A diet rich in B-group vitamins is essential for optimal body and brain function. They are water-soluble which can easily be used in beverage fortification.

Optimal B vitamins supplement is associated with better cognitive health in ageing. Evidence suggests that maternal folate status throughout pregnancy may influence the neurodevelopment and behaviour of the offspring (McGarel et al., 2015). B vitamins intake is associated with cognitive function in cognitively impaired Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment in the elderly (Kim et al., 2014).

Vitamin B1, B6 and B12 are essential vitamins for proper functioning and development of the brain and nerve cells. They help to maintain and protect the central nerves (Carlos & Mauricio, 2020). Deficiency of B vitamins is also associated with poor memory performance (Kobe et al., 2016).

DHA for Optimal Brain Health

Benexia® Chia seed is available in both powder and oil forms. ALA, the Omega-3 in chia seeds, is DHA’s precursor where our body creates the DHA from this fatty acid. DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), an extensively researched Omega-3 fatty acid can be incorporated into beverages to support optimal brain and cognition. The original source of our DHA comes from the algae that is eaten by the fish that we consume. Algae is a plant-based ingredient that is most suitable for vegetarians and is a sustainable source for memory improvement (Stonehouse et al., 2013).

World Health Organization (WHO, 2014) recommends 200–250 mg EPA and DHA combined for children ages 6–10 years old. DHA is essential for brain development during pregnancy and early childhood as well as for the maintenance of normal brain functions throughout adulthood. Low DHA concentrations have been reported in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related behaviour or learning difficulties (Montgomery et al., 2013).

Brain Health is an Emerging Trend

Failing brain health is a public health epidemic and most of the risk for aging brain is related to nutrition and lifestyle factors. We are never too young or too old to make healthy lifestyle choices.

This article is featured in Food Focus Magazine Thailand (Vol.15, No. 177, page 45) on December 2020.

References

Carlos, A. C. & Mauricio, O. N. (2020). B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalamin. CNS Neurosci Ther., 26(1), 5-13. https://doi.org/10.1111/cns.13207

Kim, H., K., G., Jang, W., Kim, S. Y. & Chang, N. (2014). Association between intake of B vitamins and cognitive function in elderly Koreans with cognitive impairment. Nutrition Journal, 13(118). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-13-118

Kobe, T., Witte, A. V., Schnelle, A., Grittner, U., Tesky, V. A., Pantel, J., Schuchardt, J. P., Hahn, A., Bohlken, J., Rujescu, D. & Floel, A. (2016). Vitamin B-12 concentration, memory performance, and hippocampal structure in patients with mild cognitive impairment. Am J Clin Nutr, 103, 1045-1054.

McGarel, C., Pentieva, K., Strain, J. J. & McNulty, H. (2015). Emerging roles for folate and related B-vitamins in brain health across the lifecycle. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 74, 46-55. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0029665114001554

Montgomery, P., Burton, J. R., Sewell, R. P., Spreckelsen, T. F. & Richardson, A. J. (2013). Low blood long chain omega-3 fatty acids in UK children are associated with poor cognitive performance and behavior: a cross-sectional analysis from the DOLAB study. PLoS One, 8(6), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0066697

Onneken, P. (2018). Salvia Hispanica L (Chia Seeds) as Brain Superfood – How Seeds Increase Intelligence. Global Journal Of Health Science, 10(7), 69. https://doi.org/10.5539/gjhs.v10n7p69

Stonehouse, W., Conlon, C.A., Podd, J., Hill, S. R., Minihane, A. M., Haskell, C. & Kennedy, D. (2013). DHA supplementation improved both memory and reaction time in healthy young adults: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 97(5):1134-43. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.053371.

World Health Organization. (WHO). (2014). Joint Fao/Who Food Standards Programme Codex Committee On Nutrition And Foods For Special Dietary Uses. Codex Alimentarius Commission. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/tempref/codex/Meetings/CCNFSDU/ccnfsdu36/CRDS/CRD_08.pdf

World Health Organization. (WHO). (2020). Dementia. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia