Researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center have found that drinking milk may be linked to levels of glutathione, an antioxidant, in the brains of healthy older adults. Study findings are published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Glutathione is believed to possibly help reduce oxidative stress and damage caused by reactive chemical compounds produced during normal metabolic process in the brain. Oxidative stress has been tied to a various conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

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The study team asked 60 subjects (mean age 68.7 years) about their diets in the days leading up to brain scans that monitored glutathione levels. Results showed that glutathione concentrations in the frontal, parietal, and frontoparietal regions were associated with average daily dairy servings. Milk was positively correlated with glutathione concentration in all three regions (P≤0.013); cheese (P=0.015) and calcium (P=0.039) intake were correlated with glutathione in the parietal region.

Data from the study support that higher cerebral glutathione concentrations were linked to greater dairy consumption in older adults. A randomized, controlled trial to evaluate the exact effect of milk on the brain is needed, researchers conclude.

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