SOUTH KOREA – Taking vitamin C supplements could improve the mental function of young adults living in industrialised countries, a new study by Seoul National University (SNU) has found.  

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient in humans that functions as an indispensable electron donor and a cofactor in various biological reactions.   

The nutrient has its highest concentration in the brain and in vitro studies have reported that vitamin C performs critical roles in brain functions, protecting neurons from oxidative stress. 

Armed with this information, SNU researchers sought to find whether there was a link between vitamin C status with mental function in healthy young adults. 

The study was specifically focusing on whether serum vitamin C concentrations impacted vitality (fatigue and attention) and mood status including stress and depression.  

A total of 214 participants, 84 men and 130 women were involved in the study that involved taking 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day for four weeks or a placebo. 

According to the researchers, the study demonstrated that taking 1000 mg a day of vitamin C increases serum concentrations in those with levels below recommendations. 

“The supplementation promotes their mental vitality, especially work motivation and attentional focus, contributing to better performance on cognitive tasks that require sustained attention,” the researchers said.  

Researchers noted that humans rely on diet for vitamin C with one to two servings of citrus fruit or vegetables being enough to prevent any deficiencies.  

The report, however, states that young adults living in industrialised countries still have low levels due to a number of factors including smoking, excessive drinking, and unhealthy eating habits.  

With supplementation, researchers argue that healthy young adults can get to enjoy improved mental vitality, especially work motivation and attentional focus, contributing to better performance on cognitive tasks that require sustained attention. 

Apple Cider Vinegar, a promising mood booster 

In another study, apple cider vinegar was found to improve the mood of healthy, college-aged individuals. 

The study by researchers from Arizona State University examined the potential role that vinegar could play on mental health, noting the gut-brain connection.   

The study included 25 healthy, college-aged student volunteers who were placed on four-week, placebo-controlled trial. 

Half of the students drank an apple cider vinegar drink (two tablespoons vinegar diluted in one cup water) twice daily with meals.   

The other half consumed a low-dose vinegar pill, which the researchers noted contained enough vinegar to give off an odor, but not enough to elicit an effect. 

After four weeks, the result pointed toward the apple cider vinegar having a positive effect on mood.  

Participants in the cider group reported a 20-34% reduction in poor mood, while the placebo group actually reported a slight increase in poor mood over the same period. 

“Several of the metabolic alterations associated with vinegar ingestion were consistent for improved mood,” the authors wrote, “including enzymatic dysfunction in the hexosamine pathway as well as significant increases in glycine, serine, and threonine metabolism.” 

With “over 40% of college students self-reporting moderate-to-severe depression, a 77% increase over the past decade,” mental health is increasingly becoming a public health concern. 

Simple and safe strategies, that effectively reduce depression in this population are therefore urgently needed.

 Apple Cider Vinegar could be one of the possible solutions and should therefore be subjected to continued investigation as a possible agent to improve mood state. 

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE