Supplementation with a putative calorie restriction mimetic micronutrient blend increases glutathione concentrations and improves neuroenergetics in brain of healthy middle-aged men and women

Free Radic Biol Med. 2020 Jun:153:112-121. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2020.04.017. Epub 2020 Apr 23.


Background: Caloric restriction (CR) without micronutrient deficiency has been shown to increase both lifespan and healthspan. In animals, CR has been demonstrated to increase glutathione (GSH), a neuroprotective antioxidant, in the brain and preserve brain mitochondrial function by altering neuroenergetics. In humans it has been associated with improvements in mood states and cognitive function. However, most CR studies have employed a 30-60% reduction in calories which is likely too stringent for most people to adhere to long-term. Thus, there is an unmet need for nutritional supplements which can mimic the biological effects of CR, without the need for calorie limitations.

Aim: The purpose of the present randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial was to use Proton (1H) Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopic (MRS) measurements to determine non-invasively whether a blend of micronutrients, a putative CR mimetic, positively modulates metabolites related to neuroprotection and neuroenergetics in the brain.

Methods: Healthy middle-aged men and women (N = 63 [33 women]; age: 40-60 years) were randomized in a double-blind manner to 6 weeks supplementation with either the putative CR mimetic or placebo. At baseline and 6 weeks, subjects underwent MRS at 3 T to investigate changes in brain chemistry, including the neurometabolites: GSH, Glutamate (Glu), Glutamine (Gln) and N-Acetylaspartate (NAA).

Results: GSH, a marker of antioxidant and cellular redox status, increased in the brain of participants in the supplement group. The supplement group also showed an increase in the Glu/Gln ratio, a marker of excitatory neurotransmission and bioenergetics. A trend for an increase in NAA/H2O, a marker of neuronal integrity, was observed in females in the supplement group.

Conclusions: The present study reveals that 6-weeks daily supplementation with a micronutrient blend elicits positive changes in brain neurochemistry. This is the first study to demonstrate that a putative CR mimetic increases brain GSH concentrations and improves neuroprotection and neuroenergetics in the brain of healthy humans. This study was registered at as NCT02439983.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Glutathione*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Micronutrients
  • Middle Aged


  • Micronutrients
  • Glutathione

Associated data