About 10–20% of older adults worldwide are affected by tardive depression, defined as a major depressive episode after age 60.
Curcumin, the main polyphenolic ingredient in the curry spice turmeric (Curcuma longa), has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms in people with depression and improve mood. Cox et al. extended curcumin supplementation and measured results at four and twelve weeks. Here, too, it was shown that fatigue was reduced after four weeks and after twelve weeks of supplementation. In addition, curcumin significantly reduced tension, anger, confusion, and total mood disorders, but these effects were only seen after 4 weeks of supplementation.
The combination of curcumin with other bioactive nutrients has been shown to counteract depressive symptoms and has been suggested as a potential strategy to extend the mood-lifting effects over longer periods of time due to the combination’s potential additive or synergistic effects.
A large number of epidemiological and observational studies show an inverse relationship between fish consumption and the prevalence of depression and that depressed adults have lower blood and adipose tissue levels of LCn-3 PUFAs.
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 middle-aged and elderly obese people.
This 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 in mood conditions, subjective memory complaints (SMCs) and quality of life (QoL); and examine the independent effects of fish oil on mental wellbeing and QoL and whether they are influenced by plasma apolipoprotein E4 status (APOE4) (which indicates a risk for Alzheimer’s disease).
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 for odor adaptation); FO + CUR group: active fish oil and active curcumin capsules; and PL group: placebo fish oil and placebo curcumin capsules.
The participants were instructed to take six capsules, two fish oils and one curcumin (or corresponding placebos) with meals in the morning and in the evening and to record their dietary supplement intake in an assigned diary along with any changes in their medication intake. 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 and completed questionnaires to measure mood, memory, general health perception, APOE4, inflammation markers, and omega-3 Status.
The results showed that curcumin supplementation had potentially positive effects on mood and reduced SMCs. The authors concluded that the improvements in both mood and SMCs were associated with improved quality of life. However, they also found that combining curcumin with fish oil did not result in additional benefits.
Fish oil independently improved vitality and total mood disorder, but only in APOE4 non-carriers. The observation that the psychological well-being response to fish oil was influenced by APOE4 status should be followed up with studies comparing the effects of fish oil on psychological well-being between APOE4 users and non-carriers.
Two previous studies examined the potential of diets or supplements to reduce SMCs. An observational study found an inverse correlation between adhering to a healthy diet – a mix of a Mediterranean diet and diet with diets to stop hypertension (DASH) – and SMCs in adults over the age of 70 who did not suffer from depression.
A 12-week clinical study with BrainPower Advanced, a dietary supplement with a mixture of 15 ingredients (Ginkgo biloba extract, green tea extract, L-pyroglutamic acid, etc.) showed improvements in SMCs in older adults (average 67 years of age) compared to Placebo. .
The long-term effects of reducing SMCs on cognitive function, mood, and quality of life need to be further explored and potential underlying mechanisms investigated. The authors of the current report also note that these studies may need to include neuroimaging in order to more accurately assess SMCs in patients at baseline.
Wong. RHX, et al
An exploratory analysis of changes in mental well-being after curcumin and fish oil supplementation in middle and older adults