22 July 2020
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is key for the maintenance of normal neuronal function and energy homeostasis and has been suggested to improve cognitive function, including learning and memory. Iron and the antioxidant curcumin have been shown to influence BDNF homeostasis. This 6-week, double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study examined the effects of oral iron supplementation at low (18 mg) and high (65 mg) ferrous (FS) iron dosages, compared to a combination of these iron doses with a bioavailable formulated form of curcumin (HydroCurc TM; 500 mg) on BDNF levels in a healthy adult cohort of 155 male (26.42 years ± 0.55) and female (25.82 years ± 0.54) participants. Participants were randomly allocated to five different treatment groups: both iron and curcumin placebo (FS0+Plac), low dose iron and curcumin placebo (FS18+Plac), low dose iron and curcumin (FS18+Curc), high dose iron and curcumin placebo (FS65+Plac) and high dose iron and curcumin (FS65+Curc). Results showed a significant increase in BDNF over time (26%) in the FS18+Curc group ( p = 0.024), and at end-point between FS18+Curc and FS18+Plac groups (35%, p = 0.042), demonstrating for the first time that the combination with curcumin, rather than iron supplementation alone, results in increased serum BDNF. The addition of curcumin to iron supplementation may therefore provide a novel approach to further enhance the benefits associated with increased BDNF levels.