Special Issue "Nutrients and Brain across the Lifespan"

A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643). This special issue belongs to the section "Nutrition and Metabolism".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Paolo Brambilla
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Medical-Surgical Physiopathology and Transplantation, University of Milan, 20122 Milan, Italy
Interests: mental health; mental diseases; affective disorders; personalised medicine; neuroimaging; neuropsychology
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Carlo Agostoni
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health (DISCCO), University of Milan, 20122 Milan, Italy
Interests: nutrition; metabolism; lipid metabolism; metabolic diseases

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The focus of this Special Issue is “Nutrients and Brain across the Lifespan”. Diet exerts a crucial role in shaping cognitive capacity and brain evolution. Indeed, the human brain consumes an immense amount of energy relative to the rest of the body. Thus, the mechanisms that are involved in the transfer of energy from foods to neurons are likely to be fundamental in the control of brain function and can affect synaptic plasticity, which could explain how metabolic disorders influence mental functions. Another important factor affecting brain functions is microbiota, which has an important role in bidirectional interactions between the gut and the central nervous system by regulating brain chemistry and influencing neuro-endocrine systems associated with stress response, anxiety, and memory function. Thus, it has been increasingly indicated that diet is important in the pathogenesis, course, and effectiveness of wellbeing and treatment of several mental disorders. The all-encompassing aim of this SI is to identify the effects of both internal signals that are associated with feeding and micronutrients on cell metabolism, synaptic plasticity, and mental function and to publish state-of-the art contributions discussing the roles that nutritional compounds play in the development, maintenance, and aging of the brain. We encourage the submission of original research articles, reviews, and meta-analyses.

Prof. Dr. Paolo Brambilla
Prof. Dr. Carlo Agostoni
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Nutrients is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Central nervous system
  • Neurogenesis
  • Brain development
  • Brain aging
  • Microbiome and brain
  • Mood disorder and nutrition
  • Dietary micronutrients and mental disorders
  • Breastfeeding and neurodevelopment

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle
Schisandra Extract and Ascorbic Acid Synergistically Enhance Cognition in Mice through Modulation of Mitochondrial Respiration
Nutrients 2020, 12(4), 897; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12040897 - 25 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1361
Abstract
Cognitive decline is observed in aging and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia. Intracellular energy produced via mitochondrial respiration is used in the regulation of synaptic plasticity and structure, including dendritic spine length and density, as well as for the release [...] Read more.
Cognitive decline is observed in aging and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia. Intracellular energy produced via mitochondrial respiration is used in the regulation of synaptic plasticity and structure, including dendritic spine length and density, as well as for the release of neurotrophic factors involved in learning and memory. To date, a few synthetic agents for improving mitochondrial function have been developed for overcoming cognitive impairment. However, no natural compounds that modulate synaptic plasticity by directly targeting mitochondria have been developed. Here, we demonstrate that a mixture of Schisandra chinensis extract (SCE) and ascorbic acid (AA) improved cognitive function and induced synaptic plasticity-regulating proteins by enhancing mitochondrial respiration. Treatment of embryonic mouse hippocampal mHippoE-14 cells with a 4:1 mixture of SCE and AA increased basal oxygen consumption rate. We found that mice injected with the SCE-AA mixture showed enhanced learning and memory and recognition ability. We further observed that injection of the SCE-AA mixture in mice significantly increased expression of postsynaptic density protein 95 (PSD95), an increase that was correlated with enhanced brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression. These results demonstrate that a mixture of SCE and AA improves mitochondrial function and memory, suggesting that this natural compound mixture could be used to alleviate AD and aging-associated memory decline. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and Brain across the Lifespan)
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Open AccessArticle
Relationships between Neonatal Nutrition and Growth to 36 Weeks’ Corrected Age in ELBW Babies–Secondary Cohort Analysis from the Provide Trial
Nutrients 2020, 12(3), 760; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12030760 - 13 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1217
Abstract
A key modifiable factor for improving neurodevelopment in extremely low birthweight (ELBW) babies may be improving growth, especially head growth, by optimising nutrition in the early neonatal period. We aimed to investigate relationships between nutrient intakes in the 4 weeks after birth, and [...] Read more.
A key modifiable factor for improving neurodevelopment in extremely low birthweight (ELBW) babies may be improving growth, especially head growth, by optimising nutrition in the early neonatal period. We aimed to investigate relationships between nutrient intakes in the 4 weeks after birth, and growth from birth to 36 weeks’ corrected age (CA) in ELBW babies. We undertook a prospective cohort study of 434 participants enrolled in a randomised controlled trial (ProVIDe) in eight New Zealand and Australian neonatal intensive care units. Macronutrient intakes from birth to 4 weeks and weight, length and head circumference measurements from birth to 36 weeks’ CA were collected. From birth to 36 weeks’ CA, the median (IQR) z-score changes were: weight −0.48 (−1.09, 0.05); length −1.16 (−1.86, −0.43), and head circumference −0.82 (−1.51, −0.19). Changes in z-score to 4 weeks and 36 weeks’ CA were correlated with protein intake. Each 1 g·Kg−1·d−1 total protein intake in week 2 was associated with 0.26 z-score increase in head circumference at 36 weeks’ CA. Both nutritional intake and change in z-scores to 36 weeks’ CA differed widely amongst sites. Correlations between nutrition and growth, and differences in these amongst sites, indicate there may be potential to improve growth with enhanced nutrition practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and Brain across the Lifespan)
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring In Vivo Dynamics of Bovine Milk Derived Gangliosides
Nutrients 2020, 12(3), 711; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12030711 - 07 Mar 2020
Viewed by 801
Abstract
Gangliosides are glycosphingolipids present in mammalian cell membranes, playing important structural and functional roles. Human studies on the health benefits of gangliosides are increasing, but knowledge gaps regarding ganglioside analysis exist. The study aimed to investigate blood sample type (serum/plasma), storage conditions, diurnal, [...] Read more.
Gangliosides are glycosphingolipids present in mammalian cell membranes, playing important structural and functional roles. Human studies on the health benefits of gangliosides are increasing, but knowledge gaps regarding ganglioside analysis exist. The study aimed to investigate blood sample type (serum/plasma), storage conditions, diurnal, day-to-day variation and acute effects of consuming bovine-derived gangliosides on circulating monosialylated gangliosides. Seventy-one women (18–40 yrs, 20–≤30.0 kg/m2) were enrolled and 61 completed the intervention. They visited the clinic three times following overnight fasting. Serum/plasma gangliosides were analyzed over 2 h (visit-1), 8 h (visit-2) and 8 h following either zero or high ganglioside meals (visit-3). Samples stored at −20 °C and −70 °C were analyzed at 3-, 6-, 12- and 18-months. Plasma and serum GM3-gangliosides did not differ, plasma GM3 did not change diurnally, from day-to-day, in response to a high vs. low ganglioside meal or after 7-days low ganglioside vs. habitual diet (P > 0.05). GM3 concentrations were lower in samples stored at −70 °C vs. −20 °C from 6-months onwards and decreased over time with lowest levels at 12- and 18-months stored at −70 °C. In conclusion, either serum/plasma stored at −20- or −70 °C for up to 6 months, are acceptable for GM3-ganglioside analysis. Blood samples can be collected at any time of the day and participants do not have to be in the fasted state. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and Brain across the Lifespan)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of DHA Supplementation on Cognition in Patients with Bipolar Disorder: An Exploratory Randomized Control Trial
Nutrients 2020, 12(3), 708; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12030708 - 06 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1463
Abstract
Bipolar disorder (BD) is a severe mental disorder with a wide range of cognitive deficits, both in the euthymic and acute phase of the disease. Interestingly, in recent years, there has been a growing interest in investigating the impact of ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty [...] Read more.
Bipolar disorder (BD) is a severe mental disorder with a wide range of cognitive deficits, both in the euthymic and acute phase of the disease. Interestingly, in recent years, there has been a growing interest in investigating the impact of ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on cognition in BD. In this context, the aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6 ω-3, DHA) supplementation on cognitive performances in euthymic BD patients. This is an exploratory, single-centre, double-blind randomized controlled trial evaluating 12 weeks DHA supplementation (1250 mg daily) vs. a placebo (corn oil) in 31 euthymic BD patients compared to 15 healthy controls (HCs) on cognitive functions, assessed by the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Affective Disorder (BAC-A). Plasma levels of DHA were measured. After 12 weeks of treatment, no significant group differences were observed in all neuropsychological tests between the four groups, except for the emotion inhibition test, where HCs with DHA had higher scores compared to either BD with DHA (z = 3.9, p = 0.003) or BD with placebo (t = 3.7, p = 0.005). Although our results showed that DHA could be effective for ameliorating cognition in healthy subjects, future studies are still needed to clarify the impact of DHA on cognition in BD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and Brain across the Lifespan)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effects of Early Life Stress, Postnatal Diet Modulation, and Long-Term Western-Style Diet on Later-Life Metabolic and Cognitive Outcomes
Nutrients 2020, 12(2), 570; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020570 - 22 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1332
Abstract
Early life stress (ES) increases the risk to develop metabolic and brain disorders in adulthood. Breastfeeding (exclusivity and duration) is associated with improved metabolic and neurocognitive health outcomes, and the physical properties of the dietary lipids may contribute to this. Here, we tested [...] Read more.
Early life stress (ES) increases the risk to develop metabolic and brain disorders in adulthood. Breastfeeding (exclusivity and duration) is associated with improved metabolic and neurocognitive health outcomes, and the physical properties of the dietary lipids may contribute to this. Here, we tested whether early life exposure to dietary lipids mimicking some physical characteristics of breastmilk (i.e., large, phospholipid-coated lipid droplets; Concept Nuturis® infant milk formula (N-IMF)), could protect against ES-induced metabolic and brain abnormalities under standard circumstances, and in response to prolonged Western-style diet (WSD) in adulthood. ES was induced by exposing mice to limited nesting material from postnatal day (P) 2 to P9. From P16 to P42, male offspring were fed a standard IMF (S-IMF) or N-IMF, followed by either standard rodent diet (SD) or WSD until P230. We then assessed body composition development, fat mass, metabolic hormones, hippocampus-dependent cognitive function, and neurogenesis (proliferation and survival). Prolonged WSD resulted in an obesogenic phenotype at P230, which was not modulated by previous ES or N-IMF exposure. Nevertheless, ES and N-IMF modulated the effect of WSD on neurogenesis at P230, without affecting cognitive function, highlighting programming effects of the early life environment on the hippocampal response to later life challenges at a structural level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and Brain across the Lifespan)
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Open AccessArticle
Associations between the Intake of Different Types of Dairy and Cognitive Performance in Dutch Older Adults: The B-PROOF Study
Nutrients 2020, 12(2), 468; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020468 - 13 Feb 2020
Viewed by 1043
Abstract
Various dairy nutrients have been associated with cognitive performance. Several observational studies have explored associations between the intake of total dairy or some dairy subgroups and cognitive performance. However, studies on the potential impact of a broad variety of dairy subclasses are scarce. [...] Read more.
Various dairy nutrients have been associated with cognitive performance. Several observational studies have explored associations between the intake of total dairy or some dairy subgroups and cognitive performance. However, studies on the potential impact of a broad variety of dairy subclasses are scarce. We examined cross-sectional associations between a wide assortment of dairy products and cognitive performance. A total of 619 Dutch community-dwelling adults aged ≥65 years completed a semi-quantitative Food Frequency Questionnaire. Cognitive performance was assessed with an extensive neuropsychological test battery; the tests were clustered into cognitive domains using z-scores. Linear and logistic regression analyses, adjusted for age, sex, BMI, education, smoking, alcohol consumption, habitual physical activity, total energy intake, and dietary factors, were performed to quantify the associations. The Benjamini–Hochberg method was used to correct for multiple testing. After full adjustment, higher skimmed dairy (β ± SD: 0.05 ± 0.02, p = 0.06), fermented dairy (0.04 ± 0.02, p = 0.09), and buttermilk (0.08 ± 0.03, p = 0.19) consumption were associated with better executive functioning. Logistic regression analyses indicated that a 30 g increase in Dutch cheese intake was associated with a 33% lower probability of poor information processing speed (PR = 0.67, 95% CI 0.47–0.97). No associations were observed between dairy consumption and attention and working memory or episodic memory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and Brain across the Lifespan)
Open AccessArticle
Alcohol Consumption, Drinking Patterns, and Cognitive Performance in Young Adults: A Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Analysis
Nutrients 2020, 12(1), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12010200 - 13 Jan 2020
Viewed by 1480
Abstract
Long-term alcohol abuse is associated with poorer cognitive performance. However, the associations between light and moderate drinking and cognitive performance are less clear. We assessed this association via cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses in a sample of 702 Dutch students. At baseline, alcohol consumption [...] Read more.
Long-term alcohol abuse is associated with poorer cognitive performance. However, the associations between light and moderate drinking and cognitive performance are less clear. We assessed this association via cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses in a sample of 702 Dutch students. At baseline, alcohol consumption was assessed using questionnaires and ecological momentary assessment (EMA) across four weeks (‘Wave 1’). Subsequently, cognitive performance, including memory, planning, and reasoning, was assessed at home using six standard cognition tests presented through an online platform. A year later, 436 students completed the four weeks of EMA and online cognitive testing (‘Wave 2’). In both waves, there was no association between alcohol consumption and cognitive performance. Further, alcohol consumption during Wave 1 was not related to cognitive performance at Wave 2. In addition, EMA-data-based drinking patterns, which varied widely between persons but were relatively consistent over time within persons, were also not associated with cognitive performance. Post-hoc analyses of cognitive performance revealed higher within-person variance scores (from Wave 1 to Wave 2) than between-person variance scores (both Wave 1 and Wave 2). In conclusion, no association was observed between alcohol consumption and cognitive performance in a large Dutch student sample. However, the online cognitive tests performed at home may not have been sensitive enough to pick up differences in cognitive performance associated with alcohol consumption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and Brain across the Lifespan)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
The Role and the Effect of Magnesium in Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review
Nutrients 2020, 12(6), 1661; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061661 - 03 Jun 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3275
Abstract
Introduction: Magnesium is an essential cation involved in many functions within the central nervous system, including transmission and intracellular signal transduction. Several studies have shown its usefulness in neurological and psychiatric diseases. Furthermore, it seems that magnesium levels are lowered in the course [...] Read more.
Introduction: Magnesium is an essential cation involved in many functions within the central nervous system, including transmission and intracellular signal transduction. Several studies have shown its usefulness in neurological and psychiatric diseases. Furthermore, it seems that magnesium levels are lowered in the course of several mental disorders, especially depression. Objectives: In this study, we wish to evaluate the presence of a relationship between the levels of magnesium and the presence of psychiatric pathology as well as the effectiveness of magnesium as a therapeutic supplementation. Methods: A systematic search of scientific records concerning magnesium in psychiatric disorders published from 2010 up to March 2020 was performed. We collected a total of 32 articles: 18 on Depressive Disorders (DD), four on Anxiety Disorders (AD), four on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), three on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), one on Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder (OCD), one on Schizophrenia (SCZ) and one on Eating Disorders (ED). Results: Twelve studies highlighted mainly positive results in depressive symptoms. Seven showed a significant correlation between reduced plasma magnesium values and depression measured with psychometric scales. Two papers reported improved depressive symptoms after magnesium intake, two in association with antidepressants, compared to controls. No significant association between magnesium serum levels and panic or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) patients, in two distinct papers, was found. In two other papers, a reduced Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A) score in depressed patients correlated with higher levels of magnesium and beneficial levels of magnesium in stressed patients was found. Two papers reported low levels of magnesium in association with ADHD. Only one of three papers showed lower levels of magnesium in ASD. ED and SCZ reported a variation in magnesium levels in some aspects of the disease. Conclusion: The results are not univocal, both in terms of the plasma levels and of therapeutic effects. However, from the available evidence, it emerged that supplementation with magnesium could be beneficial. Therefore, it is necessary to design ad hoc clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy of magnesium alone or together with other drugs (antidepressants) in order to establish the correct use of this cation with potential therapeutic effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and Brain across the Lifespan)
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Open AccessReview
Use of Non-Pharmacological Supplementations in Children and Adolescents with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Critical Review
Nutrients 2020, 12(6), 1573; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061573 - 28 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1836
Abstract
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder in children and adolescents, with environmental and biological causal influences. Pharmacological medication is the first choice in ADHD treatment; recently, many studies have concentrated on dietary supplementation approaches to address nutritional deficiencies, to [...] Read more.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder in children and adolescents, with environmental and biological causal influences. Pharmacological medication is the first choice in ADHD treatment; recently, many studies have concentrated on dietary supplementation approaches to address nutritional deficiencies, to which part of non-responses to medications have been imputed. This review aims to evaluate the efficacy of non-pharmacological supplementations in children or adolescents with ADHD. We reviewed 42 randomized controlled trials comprised of the following supplementation categories: polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), peptides and amino acids derivatives, single micronutrients, micronutrients mix, plant extracts and herbal supplementations, and probiotics. The reviewed studies applied heterogeneous methodologies, thus making it arduous to depict a systematic overview. No clear effect on single cognitive, affective, or behavioral domain was found for any supplementation category. Studies on PUFAs and micronutrients found symptomatology improvements. Peptides and amino acids derivatives, plant extracts, herbal supplementation, and probiotics represent innovative research fields and preliminary results may be promising. In conclusion, such findings, if confirmed through future research, should represent evidence for the efficacy of dietary supplementation as a support to standard pharmacological and psychological therapies in children and adolescents with ADHD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and Brain across the Lifespan)
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Open AccessReview
Evidence of the Role of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Brain Glucose Metabolism
Nutrients 2020, 12(5), 1382; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12051382 - 12 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1723
Abstract
In mammals, brain function, particularly neuronal activity, has high energy needs. When glucose is supplemented by alternative oxidative substrates under different physiological conditions, these fuels do not fully replace the functions fulfilled by glucose. Thus, it is of major importance that the brain [...] Read more.
In mammals, brain function, particularly neuronal activity, has high energy needs. When glucose is supplemented by alternative oxidative substrates under different physiological conditions, these fuels do not fully replace the functions fulfilled by glucose. Thus, it is of major importance that the brain is almost continuously supplied with glucose from the circulation. Numerous studies describe the decrease in brain glucose metabolism during healthy or pathological ageing, but little is known about the mechanisms that cause such impairment. Although it appears difficult to determine the exact role of brain glucose hypometabolism during healthy ageing or during age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, uninterrupted glucose supply to the brain is still of major importance for proper brain function. Interestingly, a body of evidence suggests that dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) might play significant roles in brain glucose regulation. Thus, the goal of the present review is to summarize this evidence and address the role of n-3 PUFAs in brain energy metabolism. Taken together, these data suggest that ensuring an adequate dietary supply of n-3 PUFAs could constitute an essential aspect of a promising strategy to promote optimal brain function during both healthy and pathological ageing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and Brain across the Lifespan)
Open AccessReview
Nutritional Status as a Mediator of Fatigue and Its Underlying Mechanisms in Older People
Nutrients 2020, 12(2), 444; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020444 - 10 Feb 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2169
Abstract
Fatigue is an often-neglected symptom but frequently complained of by older people, leading to the inability to continue functioning at a normal level of activity. Fatigue is frequently associated with disease conditions and impacts health status and quality of life. Yet, fatigue cannot [...] Read more.
Fatigue is an often-neglected symptom but frequently complained of by older people, leading to the inability to continue functioning at a normal level of activity. Fatigue is frequently associated with disease conditions and impacts health status and quality of life. Yet, fatigue cannot generally be completely explained as a consequence of a single disease or pathogenetic mechanism. Indeed, fatigue mirrors the exhaustion of the physiological reserves of an older individual. Despite its clinical relevance, fatigue is typically underestimated by healthcare professionals, mainly because reduced stamina is considered to be an unavoidable corollary of aging. The incomplete knowledge of pathophysiological mechanisms of fatigue and the lack of a gold standard tool for its assessment contribute to the poor appreciation of fatigue in clinical practice. Inadequate nutrition is invoked as one of the mechanisms underlying fatigue. Modifications in food intake and body composition changes seem to influence the perception of fatigue, probably through the mechanisms of inflammation and/or mitochondrial dysfunction. Here, we present an overview on the mechanisms that may mediate fatigue levels in old age, with a special focus on nutrition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and Brain across the Lifespan)
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