Wild Blueberry Extract: The Power Berry
Blueberries are a potent natural anti-aging compound, having protective anti-aging properties that affect age-related degeneration of the brain (neurodegeneration), memory, as well as serving as a powerful anti-aging agent as evidenced by its significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Important biologically active constituents of blueberries include anthocyanins (the blues and purple pigments of the berry), cholorgenic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, resveratrol, and perostilbene.(1) Wild blueberries are the superior to cultivated blueberries, having a significantly higher antioxidant rating versus the cultivated variety (in some cases wild blueberries have as much as 10X’s the antioxidant power of cultivated blueberries).
Blueberries: Mental & Motor Functioning. As the populations ages, there becomes increased incidence in cognitive decline and loss of motor control. Research indicates that blueberries may play an important role in slowing or reversing cognitive decline. Blueberries positively affect mental functioning by improving neuronal communication and reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. Such attributes of blueberries may help in reversing the tide of mental decline and loss of motor function in an aging population.(18)
Healthy Aging Benefits – Blueberry Bioactives
• Increases Lifespan. In aging studies, blueberry polyphenols was shown to extend the lifespan and slow age related declines in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) and in fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. In Drosophila melangaster the observed increase in lifespan was 10%. While blueberry polyphenols exert powerful antioxdiant properties, researchers determined that observed life extension in c.elegans was due to factors other than antioxidant activity.(15) However, in Drosophila melangaster, there was a significant increase in the endogenous antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT). (16)
• Improves Functions of the Brain and Eyes. An important health aspect to blueberries is their ability to cross the blood brain barrier and become active in brain and other tissue. Anthocyanins are associated with increased neuron signaling in the brain, thereby improving brain function and memory. In a recent study involving older adults experiencing early stage memory deterioration, blueberry anthocyanin consumption over a 12 week period resulted in significant improvements in learning and recall.(2) Eye studies demonstrate that blueberries are potent inhibitors of ocular pathologies caused by oxidative stress, especially those stresses on the retina.(3) Research also indicates that blueberry anthocyanins protects the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells, essential for the heath of the retina, against aging and light induced damage.(14, 17)
• Improves Cardiovascular Health. Blueberries, and more specifically their anthocyanin components, have been shown to have significant benefits to cardiovascular health. Significant improvements were shown in oxidized LDL cholesterol, lipid peroxidation, blood antioxidant capacity, reduced risk of hypertension, dyslipidemia, and glucose metabolism. (4,5) Also has been shown to improve vascular tone and improve endothelial dysfunction in lab animals. Blueberries ameliorated vasoconstriction, and enhanced vasorelaxation .(6) In rodent models, the phenolic compounds in blueberries have been shown to prevent atherosclerosis. Researchers found that the inhibition of atherosclerosis development was due to the inhibition of cholesterol accumulation in arterial walls, and a downregulation of inflammatory substances. (13)
• Supports Bone Growth and Maintenance. Blueberries increase bone formation and anabolism (7). May provide important diet derived nutrition for support of bone health without the negative side effects of other treatments.
Anti-Aging Brain / Memory Enhancement
• Neuroprotection. Laboratory studies suggest that blueberries can significantly reduce age-induced increases of inflammation in the brain.(8,9) Inflammation of the brain, associated with inflammatory immune substances (cytokines) and oxidative stress are believed to be major contributors to dementia and other disorders of the brain.(10) An inflammatory state in the brain also inhibits brain plasticity and new neuron production (see below). Blueberries appear to act at the gene level, altering the gene expression of the production of inflammatory substances in the brain. Furthermore, blueberries have been shown to prevent detrimental changes to the brain than occurs in aging .(10)
• Neurogenesis (Neuroplasticity). Aging results in a decreased ability of the brain to generate new brain cells, a process known as neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is one parameter used to measure the plasticity of the brain, which is the ability of the brain to make positive adaptations to improve brain functioning. Blueberry supplementation has been shown to increase all parameters associated with hippocampal plasticity, including the proliferation in new brain cells. (11) In a ground breaking study involving aged animals given blueberry supplementation, showed a direct correlation between enhanced hippocampal plasticity, and improved memory.
• Hippocampus and Memory. Improvements in working memory in aged animals also correlate with increases in anthocyanins and flavanols in the hippocampus part of the brain, following blueberry supplementation. This appears related to blueberries effects on the pathways related to memory and learning. (12)
1. Chen, CF, et al. Chemical principles and bioactivities of blueberry. Yao Xue Xue Bao. 2010 Apr;45(4):422-9.
2. Krikorian R, et al. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 14;58(7):3996-4000.
3. Dutot M, et al. Oxidative stress modulation using polyphenol-rich blueberries: application on a human retinal cell model. J Fr Ophtalmol. 2008 Dec;31(10):975-80.
4. Basu A, et al. Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health. Nutr Rev. 2010 Mar;68(3):168-77.
5. Cassidy A, et al. Habitual intake of flavonoid subclasses and incident hypertension in adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):338-47.
6. Kristo AS, et al. A wild blueberry-enriched diet (Vaccinium angustifolium) improves vascular tone in the adult spontaneously hypertensive rat. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Nov 24;58(22):11600-5.
7. Ronis MJ, et al. Effects of Nutrition and Alcohol Consumption on Bone Loss. Curr Osteoporos Rep. 2011 Mar 1.
8. Willis LM, et al. Blueberry supplementation attenuates microglial activation in hippocampal intraocular grafts to aged hosts. Glia. 2010 Apr 15;58(6):679-90.
9. Shukitt-Hale B., et al. Blueberry polyphenols attenuate kainic acid-induced decrements in cognition and alter inflammatory gene expression in rat hippocampus. Nutr Neurosci. 2008 Aug;11(4):172-82.
10. Yang H, et al. Research progress of bioactive constituents, absorption, metabolism, and neuroprotective effects from blueberry. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2010 Jul;39(4):525-8.
11. Casadesus G, et al. Modulation of hippocampal plasticity and cognitive behavior by short-term blueberry supplementation in aged rats. Nutr Neurosci. 2004 Oct-Dec;7(5-6):309-16.
12. Williams CM, et al. Blueberry-induced changes in spatial working memory correlate with changes in hippocampal CREB phosphorylation and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. Free Radic Biol Med. 2008 Aug 1;45(3):295-305.
13. Xie C, et al. Phenolic acids are in vivo atheroprotective compounds appearing in the serum of rats after blueberry consumption. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Sep 28;59(18):10381-7.
14. Liu Y, et al. Blueberry anthocyanins: protection against ageing and light-induced damage in retinal pigment epithelial cells. Br J Nutr. 2011 Oct 12:1-12.
15. Wilson MA, et al. Blueberry polyphenols increase lifespan and thermotolerance in Caenorhabditis elegans. Aging Cell. 2006 Feb;5(1):59-68.
16. Peng C, et al. Blueberry extract prolongs lifespan of Drosophila melanogaster. Exp Gerontol. 2011 Dec 17.
17. Tremblay F, et al. Prophylactic neuroprotection by blueberry-enriched diet in a rat model of light-induced retinopathy. J Nutr Biochem. 2012 Jul 23.
18. Shukitt-Hale B. Blueberries and Neuronal Aging. Gerontology. 2012 Aug 16.