New study discovers importance of Natural Vitamin E in early brain development

The latest scientific research on nutrients for early brain development shows that natural vitamin E (NVE), together with lutein, can better support DHA in boosting early brain development.  

The findings were reported at a symposium hosted by the Vietnam Pediatric Association

These findings were shared by Lisa Renzi from the Psychology Faculty of Georgia University (US) and Dr Matthew J. Kuchan, Abbott Nutrition’s Senior Principal Research Scientist, Global Cognition Platform Lead, Center for Nutrition Learning and Memory, University of Illinois, at the symposium named “New scientific breakthroughs in brain development” hosted by the Vietnam Pediatric Association in co-operation with global healthcare company Abbott on November 18 in Ho Chi Minh City.

Douglas Kuo, general manager of Abbott Vietnam, said, “For almost 130 years, we have been pursuing advancements in science, technology, medicine, and nutrition to deliver a lasting impact and empower people to live a full life around the world. We understand that proper nutrition is the foundation for living the best life possible and is essential for children to maximise their future well-being, live better, and achieve more across their life spans. We wish that the latest science and best practices shared can add values to local healthcare professionals’ daily consultancy and ensure children’s cognitive development through good nutrition.”

According to the research, the first years of life is a critical stage of development that forms the foundation for a child's future health, well-being, and learning. Researchers have shown that half of a person’s intelligence potential is developed by the age of four and that nutrition can have a lasting effect on intellectual capacity, personality, and social behaviour. During the first two years of a child’s life, brain cells can make up to 1,000 new connections every second—a once-in-a-lifetime speed.

Different nutrients are needed to support brain development throughout this growth stage. Once children get it right, proper nutrition may help to ensure children’s brain development and support them to grow, learn, and thrive.

DHA, omega-3 fatty acid, is well known as “brain nourishment” that boosts brain development. However, DHA can be oxidised without antioxidants and some DHA also need to be activated by other nutrients. Protecting DHA from oxidisation as well as activating them is a way to ensure good nutrition for brain development.

The research also shows the important role of NVE. Notably, babies’ brain prefer NVE over Synthetic Vitamin E. The areas of infants’ brain associated with visual, memory, and language development have a greater concentration of NVE as opposed to synthetic versions. NVE might protect DHA from damage by free radicals.

Besides, NVE, together with DHA and Lutein, have been found in areas of the brain important for learning. Notably, the combination of Lutein, VN E (NVE) and DHA produced more connections in brain cells than with DHA alone. Research shows that these three vital nutrients—when combined—stimulate 81 per cent more brain connections compared to DHA alone in research models, and provide more nutrients for faster brain connections. These brain connections contribute to children’s brain function and learning.

Research prove that VNE and Lutein help to protect cell membranes and omega-3 fatty acids, such as DHA, from oxidative damage.

NVE was found to be the predominant form of vitamin E (containing more than 70 per cent) in breast milk. It can also be found in natural foods and extracted from plant-based foods.

Food rich in NVE include nuts and seeds like almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and sunflower seeds; vegetables like spinach, broccoli, asparagus, pumpkin; vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil; seafood, including salmon and trout, and oyster, among others.

On food packaging and labels, NVE is commonly listed as “RRR-alpha-tocopherol” or “d-alpha tocopherol.” The synthetic forms are usually listed as “all-rac-α-tocopherol” or “dl-alpha tocopherol.”

By Ha Vy