Antioxidant Combo Protects Against Cognitive Dysfunction

Researchers in Iran have found that the combination of three antioxidant nutrients—vitamins C and E and astaxanthin—can improve memory deficits caused by consuming a high-fat diet.

Eating a diet high in fat can cause oxidative stress and metabolic disorders, resulting in damage to neurons and interference with the transfer of messages in the brain. This can manifest as a decline in learning and memory. Antioxidants are the most powerful weapons against oxidative stress and free radical damage.

In this rat study, the researchers aimed to determined the link between a chronic high-fat diet and antioxidants on passive avoidance learning (PAL)—when animals stop displaying a response they’ve used regularly in the past due to a punishing or threatening stimulus.

The rats were randomly assigned into five groups:

  • Regular diet (control)
  • High-fat diet
  • ANO—high-fat diet plus vitamins C and E and astaxanthin
  • RHFD—restricted high-fat diet
  • RANO—restricted high-fat diet plus vitamins C and E and astaxanthin

After six months, the high-fat diet group displayed significant memory problems compared to the controls. However, the rats that took the antioxidants showed improved testing scores.

According to the results, a high-fat diet “impairs PAL and the combination of vitamins C and E and astaxanthin improves PAL deficits in the high-fat diet group.”


Komaki A, et al. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2015 Apr;131:98-103.

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