Marmite may affect brain function

Credit: stuartpilbrow / flickr

Scientists have discovered a link between UK’s answer to Vegemite and activity in the brain

In a UK study, participants consuming a teaspoon of Marmite every day for a month were compared to a control group who consumed peanut butter over the same period of time.

The Marmite eaters showed a substantial reduction of around 30% in their brain’s response to visual stimuli, measured using ECG.

University of York researchers believe this may be due to the prevalence of vitamin B12 in Marmite increasing levels of a specific neurotransmitter – known as GABA – in the brain.

Anika Smith, PhD student in York’s Department of Psychology and first author of the study, says: “These results suggest that dietary choices can affect the cortical processes of excitation and inhibition – consistent with increased levels of GABA – that are vital in maintaining a healthy brain.

“As the effects of Marmite consumption took around eight weeks to wear off after participants stopped the study, this suggests that dietary changes could potentially have long-term effects on brain function.

“This is a really promising first example of how dietary interventions can alter cortical processes, and a great starting point for exploring whether a more refined version of this technique could have some medical or therapeutic applications in the future. Of course, further research is needed to confirm and investigate this, but the study is an excellent basis for this.”

So time to crack out the Marmite (or Vegemite) and toast, fellow Australians, because our mums might’ve been right – it may help you grow stronger every week after all!

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  1. Willy the chemist

    “A substantial reduction of around 30% in their brain’s response to visual stimuli” does not necessarily relate to either good or bad. Not yet anyway as the result of the study is too preliminary, further research is required.
    So it’s bad journalism to suggest time to crack out the Marmite and to help you “grow stronger”.

  2. AD

    Disturbing choice of image.

    • Jarrod McMaugh

      Agreed. I don’t think there are many Aussies who can stand to see that label instead of our favorite yeast extract.

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