Think that glass of orange juice might stave off that winter cold? What if we told you it could also help you get that promotion at work? A recent study has suggested that vitamin C’s benefits could extend to improved attention span and workplace motivation. Find out more in this week’s Nutrition News here.

Could vitamin C help cognitive health in the workplace?

Vitamin C is widely known to support the immune system but a recent study from South Korea suggests it could have far wider applications. The study, which involved 50 adults between the ages of 20-39, used a questionnaire to measure fatigue and attention and a Stroop colour-word test to measure cognitive function, including attention and information processing speed.

The group was split into two, one half given a beverage containing 500mg vitamin C that they were to consume twice a day, whilst the other half was given a placebo. All the subjects had a blood serum vitamin C concentration of less than 50 µmol/L before the start of the study and, by the end, the intervention group had blood serum levels above this marker, putting them at optimal vitamin C status.

This increased status correlated with improved attention spans and work motivation, as reported by NutraIngredients Asia. It is thought that these improvements may be due to the modulating effects of vitamin C on neurotransmitters and hormones in the brain as vitamin C interacts with the dopaminergic system. Dopaminergic signalling is significantly involved in emotional arousal, such as motivation, goal seeking and self control, as well as successful executive control, such as attention and cognitive flexibility.

While no impact was observed on stress or anxiety in the study, the findings in relation to motivation are particularly encouraging and worthy of extended research.

The benefits of kimchi

While the nutritional profile of kimchi can vary, due to its numerous variations, the process of making the Korean dish lends itself to being a great source of vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, minerals, fibre and amino acids.

The fermented vegetable dish is explored by Medical News Today in this article for its health benefits, some of which may be surprising. As kimchi is made through a lacto-fermentation process that uses lactobacilli bacteria to break down sugar and starches into lactic acid, it is particularly beneficial to gut health and digestion.

It’s also thought to lower cholesterol and inflammation through its heart health benefits. Other benefits of kimchi include immune system support and weight management.

While the health benefits of kimchi are encouraging, it’s important to consider the health risks also. If not correctly stored, there may be a risk of pathogenic bacteria so it is recommended to take particular care when preparing and storing the dish.

Could omega 3 protect brain health in impact sports?

Omega 3 is widely praised for its role in cognitive health but a recent study, reported by NutraIngredients USA, from a number of universities and schools of medicine in America has highlighted its potential for offering brain protection for impact sports such as American Football.

Repetitive sub-concussive head impacts (RHI) over the course of an American Football season were associated with increases in the levels of serum neurofilament light (Nf-L), which is a biomarker of nerve fibre (axonal) injury and a surrogate marker of head trauma. The study then monitored the effects of supplementing athletes with DHA, DPA and EPA at doses of 2,000mg, 320mg, and 560mg respectively. The researchers found that the omega 3 supplementation reduced the severity of the Nf-L increases.

The findings are hugely encouraging as it is thought that many athletes do not obtain acceptable amounts of dietary omega 3 and introducing the fatty acid could have significant effects on their brain health.

While the study has only researched the effects in American Football so far, the findings are promising for its application in other contact sports, although further research is needed.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is the Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.