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Old 02-15-17, 06:55 PM
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If Supplements Can Improve Cognitive Performance in Healthy People...

why are we so sure there is "no benefit" for those with ADHD, depression, etc?

Not really wanting to be a poster girl for supplements (and I realize "research" can often point in different directions until the key processes and interactions are pinned down), but I said I would post a line of research showing fairly modest amounts of ordinary supplements had measurable cognitive effects in healthy people, so here it is.

Kennedy et al 2010 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2885294/ found small but significant performance improvements in the supplemented group
White et al, 2016 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133263/
using fMRI found observable changes in functional brain activity after supplementation, though these were not clearly reflected in corresponding changes in performance (however neither tasks nor sample size were designed to detect small changes in performance)
[plus I recall seeing a study from UK along these lines by somebody named Green that I just can't find at the moment]

Of course both studies leave open the question whether the results reflected suboptimal nutritional status in the study population rather than the value of higher-than-recommended intakes for cognitive tasks. But as long as the supplemented group and the control group were adequately matched and randomly assigned, the improvements in the supplemented group suggest at least making sure you are getting more than the recommended dietary intake of (at least) the common B & C vitamins used in these studies.

Finally I just have to mention one more study supporting supplements--this time for ADHD--that veers into the realm of weirdness by apparently using good RCT methods to study what must be Canada's most controversial supplement, Empower Plus, by Truehope: Rucklidge et all, 2014 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24482441

However of the 36 nutrients (I couldn't find a complete list of ingredients, though it reportedly includes 14 vitamins, 16 minerals, 3 amino acids, and 3 antioxidants) in the product, the study monitored blood concentrations of only 9. Of those, the only ones for which the differences between the test and control groups were statistically significant were B6, B12 and Vitamin D (not that any symptom reduction had to come only from the 9).

Between the potential for individual genetic and epigenetic differences now discoverable from gene research and the functional and metabolic data now available from the neuroimaging technologies (such as PET, SPECT, and fMRI), it seems possible that some of the controversy and conflicting data in our understanding of nutrition, drug therapies, and sympton clusters will start to yield some useful treatment guidelines.
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