Approximately 10-20% of older adults worldwide experience late-life depression, which is defined as major depression after age 60.
Curcumin, the main active polyphenolic compound of curry turmeric (Curcuma longa), has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms and improve mood in people with depression. Cox et al. Extended curcumin supplementation and measured results at four and twelve weeks. Again, it was shown that fatigue was reduced after four weeks as well as after twelve weeks of supplementation. In addition, curcumin significantly reduced tension, anger, confusion, and total mood disorder, but these effects were not seen until after 4 weeks of supplementation.
Combining curcumin with other bioactive nutrients has been shown to counteract depressive symptoms. This has been suggested as a possible strategy to extend the mood-enhancing effects over longer periods of time due to possible additive or synergistic effects of the combination.
A large number of epidemiological and observational studies show an inverse relationship between fish intake and the prevalence of depression and that depressed adults have lower LCn-3 PUFA levels in blood and adipose tissue.
A team of researchers from the University of Newcastle, Australia recently reported the combined effects of fish oil and curcumin on systemic and cerebral blood flow function in obese, middle-aged and older adults.
That team then conducted the current 16-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to: Confirm the previously reported mood-enhancing benefits of curcumin, and determine whether combining curcumin with fish oil would result in additional, longer-lasting benefits for mood states, subjective Memory disorders (SMCs) and quality of life (QoL); and investigate the independent effects of fish oil on mental wellbeing and quality of life and whether they are affected by plasma apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4) status (which suggests Alzheimer’s risk).
The participants – all overweight or obese middle-aged and older adults – were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: FO group: active fish oil capsules (Blackmore’s Omega Brain: 400 mg EPA and 2000 mg DHA / day) with placebo curcumin capsules (maltodextrin with yellow food coloring); CUR group: active curcumin capsules (Blackmores Brain Active: 800 mg Longvida with 160 mg curcumin / day) with placebo fish oil capsules (mixture of corn and olive oil with 20 mg fish oil to match the smell); FO + CUR group: active fish oil and active curcumin capsules; and PL group: placebo fish oil and placebo curcumin capsules.
Participants were instructed to consume six capsules, two fish oils, and one curcumin (or matching placebos) with meals mornings and evenings, and record their dietary supplement intake, along with any changes in drug intake, in an assigned diary. They visited the research facility for a total of four visits – two at the beginning and two at the end of the intervention – and provided a series of blood samples that were completed in questionnaires to measure mood, memory, general health perception, APOE4 and inflammation markers, and omega -3 status.
The results indicated that curcumin supplementation had potential positive effects on mood and reduced SMCs. The authors concluded that improvements in both mood and SMCs are associated with improved quality of life. However, they also found that combining curcumin with fish oil did not bring any additional benefits.
Fish oil independently improved vitality and total mood disorder, but only in APOE4 non-carriers. The observation that the mental wellbeing response to fish oil was influenced by APOE4 status should be followed by studies comparing the effects of fish oil on mental wellbeing between APOE4 carriers and non-carriers.
Two previous studies examined the potential of diet or supplements to reduce SMCs. An observational study showed an inverse correlation between following a healthy diet – a mix of a Mediterranean diet and nutritional approaches to stop the hypertension (DASH) diet – and SMCs in adults over the age of 70 who did not have depression.
A 12-week clinical study of BrainPower Advanced, a supplement containing a mix of 15 ingredients (ginkgo biloba extract, green tea extract, L-pyroglutamic acid, etc.) showed improvements in SMCs compared to placebo in older adults (average 67 Years). .
Further research is needed to examine the long-term effects of reducing SMCs on cognitive function, mood and quality of life, and to examine possible underlying mechanisms. The authors of the current report also point out that neuroimaging may need to be integrated into these studies in order to be able to more accurately assess SMCs in people at the start of the study.
Wong. RHX et al
An exploratory analysis of changes in mental well-being after supplementation with curcumin and fish oil in middle-aged and older adults