A study has found that men who take supplements containing beta-carotene may delay the onset of cognitive decline in the old age.
The research project, spearheaded by Dr Francine Grodstein of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, looked at two groups of men – long-term users (18 years, on average) and short (an average of one year) – who added 50 milligrams of beta-carotene to their diet every other day.
Grodstein found that the men in the short-term group showed no difference in cognition – including thinking, learning and memory skills – than those taking a placebo, while the men in the long-term group performed significantly better.
"[F]or every 10 to 12 units of beta-carotene, your body produces one unit of Vitamin A," says Dr Michael E. Rosenbaum, adding that Vitamin A plays a critical role in vision, bone growth, reproduction and immunity. In particular, as an antioxidant it helps to destroy free radicals that can damage cells, accelerate aging, and contribute to tumor development.
Foods rich in beta-carotene include crude palm oil, yellow and orange fruits, such as mangoes and papayas, orange root vegetables such as carrots and yams and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, sweet potato leaves, and sweet gourd leaves.