A new study from Tohoku University, Japan, suggests it might just do that! More exactly, a compound in algae called astaxanthin, a powerful anti-oxidant obtained from algae.
Note that whenever you see “xanth-“ it’s from a Greek word meaning yellow. Zeaxanthin is another yellow compound, part of the green color of leaves. Along with Lutein (that’s a Latin word also meaning “yellow”!), it protects against macular degeneration.
So, yellow-stuff is good for aging and the nervous system (no, not mustard!!)
Back to astaxanthin: it’s known that people with dementia have elevated blood levels of what are called phospholipid hydroperoxide—free radical compounds that accumulate abnormally in the red blood cells (RBCs). It’s reasonable to suspect these substances of making trouble.
Kiyotaka Nakagawa, from Tohoku University (Japan), and colleagues, enrolled 30 healthy men and women, ages 50 and 69 years, in a twelve-week long study during which each subject received either a daily dietary supplement of: 6 milligrams a day astaxanthin12 mg a day or just placebo.
Those who consumed astaxanthin supplement demonstrated markedly lower levels of phospholipid hydroperoxides in their RBCs. The reduction was quite substantial: 40- 50%, depending on dose.
The researchers conclude that: “These results suggest that astaxanthin supplementation results in improved red blood cell antioxidant status and decreased phospholipid hydroperoxide levels, which may contribute to the prevention of dementia.”
[British Journal of Nutrition, 31 January 2011; DOI:10.1017/S0007114510005398].
You can get algae at health food stores. Look for the good stuff and don’t buy on price. You get what you pay for.
But also don’t forget that good greens also contains yellow stuff (yellow + blue = green, remember!) Eat plenty and your eyes and brain will stay good.
For my own “encyclopedia” of staying healthy into your second century, go read about it here and get yourself a copy: