A spoonful of Marmite a day keeps brains healthy, study suggests

Eating Marmite every day can help keep your brain healthy, a study suggests.

Love it or hate it, researchers believe the yeast extract helps boost levels of an important neurotransmitter which stops brain cells from becoming overexcited.

In the University of York study, volunteers who ate a teaspoon of Marmite every day for a month showed a 30% decrease in their brain's response to visual patterns compared to those who ate peanut butter instead.

Scientists believe that Marmite, which is rich in vitamin B12, boosted their levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) - the neurotransmitter which "regulates the delicate balance of activity needed to maintain a healthy brain".

Past studies have concluded that GABA may help to dampen feelings of fear and anxiety, which often arise when neurons are overstimulated.

Abnormal levels of GABA have also been associated with epileptic seizures, opening up the possibility that Marmite could have beneficial effects for people who suffer with certain neurological disorders.

Anika Smith, a PhD student involved in the study, said: "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."

The research team's next study will involve giving volunteers a course of vitamin B12 tablets, or a placebo, to try to figure out whether this is the ingredient responsible for the increase of GABA in the brain.

Their work has been published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

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