Beta-lactolin, the brain booster in camembert
Mold cheeses such as camembert contain a peptide that, in tiny amounts, improves memory. In Japan, functional foods and supplements, containing relevant amounts of beta-lactolin, are already on the market.
After Japanese epidemiologists had shown that elderly people who consume relatively much dairy by Japanese standards are less likely to suffer from dementia than elderly people with a low dairy intake, [J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014 Jul;62(7):1224-30.] the research department of the Japanese brewery Kirin went in search of active ingredients in dairy that could explain the protective effect.
In this search, Kirin came across a series of peptides that, in laboratory animals [Neurobiol Aging. 2018 Dec;72:23-31.] and humans improved memory functions.
The most interesting peptide Kirin discovered was beta-lactoline. Beta-lactoline is found in regular foods, including in molded cheeses such as camembert, which are formed thanks to penicillium fungi. Beta-lactoline is an MAO inhibitor, which increases the concentration of neurotransmitters such as dopamine in the brain and also facilitates the storage and retrieval of information.
Kirin is already putting beta-lactoline in functional foods that should improve memory. They are targeted at senior citizens.
Kirin researchers recently published a meta-study in which they combined and re-analyzed the results of three previously published human studies into the effect of beta-lactoline on memory. In these studies, the subjects took the peptide daily for 6-12 weeks.
The Japanese discovered a positive, but not statistically significant, trend that beta-lactoline improved memory function in general [first figure below].
However, the effect on cued recall was statistically significant. Cued recall is the ability to recall things from memory with a little help from mnemonics.
Click on the figure for a larger version.
At first glance, the effect seems extremely modest, until you consider how little beta-lactoline the subjects in the trials received: 1.6 milligrams per day. What could a multiple of this small amount accomplish?
J Nutr Health Aging. 2022;26(2):127-32.
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