Dietary nitrate, aging and brain health: the latest evidence

Oliver M. Shannon, Sarah Gregory, Mario Siervo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose of review
With an increasing population age, cognitive decline and age-associated neurodegenerative diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent and burdensome in society. Dietary supplementation with inorganic nitrate, which serves as a nitric oxide precursor, has been suggested as a potential nutritional strategy to improve brain health in older adults. In this review, we discuss recent findings in this area.

Recent findings
A number of studies have emerged in the past 12–18 months exploring the effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on cognitive function, with typically (although not exclusively) null findings emerging. This research is characterized by small, acute/short-term studies, although observational studies and longer-duration randomised controlled trials are beginning to emerge. From the limited research reporting benefits of nitrate supplementation on cognitive function, one important discovery has been the identification of a potential pathway through which nitrate could impact cognitive health, involving modulation of the oral microbiome, which warrants further investigation.

Summary
Despite some promising early findings, there is currently insufficient evidence to recommend increased dietary nitrate intake for the purpose of improving brain health. However, longer-term, larger-scale trials in potentially responsive groups are warranted to provide definitive evidence in this area.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care
VolumePublish Ahead of Print
Early online date10 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • ageing
  • beetroot juice
  • brain health
  • cognitive function
  • dietary nitrate

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