A group of Singapore scientists has restarted a clinical trial to look at whether supplementing one’s diet with ergothioneine – a compound found mainly in mushrooms – can help prevent or delay cognitive impairment and dementia. The trial comes after they found that low levels of ergothioneine in the blood correlate with an increased risk of developing cognitive issues.
The scientists followed 470 senior subjects for five years, and found that the participants with the lowest blood levels of ergothioneine declined faster cognitively than those with higher levels of the compound. Before this study, it was known only that individuals with lower levels of ergothioneine had poorer cognitive performance.
“Ergothioneine levels in people who were cognitively healthy are a predictor of who’s going to develop cognitive impairment,” said one of the researchers. “In other words, if you were healthy, and your level was low, your risk of developing cognitive impairment was much, much greater.”
The findings point to the possibility of using a simple blood test to detect ergothioneine levels to identify senior people at risk of developing cognitive impairment and dementia, he said.