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Blueberry Anthocyanin Supplement Benefits and Dosage

Blueberries aren't just good for your brain. This superfood is also linked to reducing the risk of numerous diseases.

Sophie Medlin
Sophie Medlin
Head of Nutritional Research
February 21, 2020
8 min read

Blueberries have some of the highest cellular antioxidant activity compared to not only most fruits, but also amongst the most commonly consumed foods. Anthocyanins—pigment compounds that give these sweet berries their trademark purple-blue hue—are responsible for much of blueberries' antioxidant content. Like many antioxidants, blueberry anthocyanins have a wide range of benefits for your brain health, cardiovascular function, immune health and more.

What is the Nutrient Reference Value (NRV—formerly RDA) of blueberry anthocyanins?

There are no official guidelines for anthocyanin intake. However, you're likely not getting enough at the moment. Limited studies in the past have indicated that most people only get approximately 12.5 mg of anthocyanins a day. And while the United Kingdom's National Health Service recommends approximately five servings of fruits and vegetables a day (with a serving defined as two handfuls of blueberries), one out of 10 adults don't eat enough fruits and vegetables, and how many of us can say we eat two handfuls of blueberries a day?

Since antioxidants help protect your body from the cellular damage caused by environmental pollution, household toxins and other stressors, more may occasionally be better. This is especially true if you:

  • Engage in dietary and lifestyle habits that expose your body to higher-than-average free radical levels, such as smoking, eating processed foods, or drinking alcohol.

  • Are recovering from illness.

  • Work or live in an environment that exposes you to higher rates of environmental pollution (e.g., living in an urban environment, or working in a job that exposes you to a lot of chemicals or fumes).

In every Smart Supplement dose

Each dose contains 80 mg of blueberry extract (containing 29 mg of anthocyanins) for optimal brain health and cognition, it is equal to about 20 blueberries a day.

Blueberry (Anthocyanin) functions

Besides giving blueberries their colour, flavonoids like anthocyanins are important for a variety of biological functions:

  • They play a role in cell signalling and thus may have effects at the cellular level on all systems of your body.

  • They are key for metal chelation (the process of binding to metals in your body, such as iron or copper), which may help your body to better moderate its levels of different metals.

  • They have direct antioxidant benefits, eliminating free radicals that damage your cells.

Anthocyanins (anthocyanin) benefits

Benefits of blueberry (anthocyanin) on the brain

Unlike many nutrients, anthocyanins have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which may explain the direct correlation that researchers see between anthocyanin intake and brain function.

Anthocyanins, and flavonoids in general, play a role in general neurobiology, including neurogenesis (the process of growing new neurons) and synaptic growth (the process of connecting different neurons so that your brain cells can communicate). 

Research shows that anthocyanins may even have neuroprotective benefits in the brain, protecting your brain from toxins, inflammation and cellular injury. 

This combination of proactive brain health enhancements and protective brain defences may lead to cognitive benefits like:

Because of the potent antioxidant activity found in blueberries, well-researched benefits to your general physical health include:

Benefits of blueberry (anthocyanin) on the body 

Deficiency symptoms of blueberry (anthocyanin) benefits

There have been no studies quantifying the specific symptoms you may experience if you don't get enough anthocyanins. However, if you aren't providing your body with enough anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in general, you may notice symptoms such as:

  • Increased fatigue and slower recovery from physical exercise.

  • Slower recovery from illness.

  • More muddled, unclear thinking and other cognitive issues (especially because of anthocyanins' effects on neuroinflammation).

Food sources of anthocyanins

Blueberries are the top source of anthocyanins. Other dietary sources of anthocyanins are purple, black, red or blue plant-based foods that are high in this plant pigment, including:

  • Blackberries 

  • Blackcurrants 

  • Black rice

  • Cranberries 

  • Cherries

  • Concord grapes

  • Purple corn

  • Red cabbage 

Ways to supplement anthocyanins

Fresh blueberries are not available all season, and freezing, drying or dehydrating them can sometimes degrade the antioxidant activity of anthocyanins. 

For optimal anthocyanin intake, look for a supplement that contains pure blueberry extract with a high percentage of anthocyanins. At Heights, our blueberry extract contains a significant 36 per cent anthocyanin. 

What other vitamins and minerals should I take with anthocyanins?

Some vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and calcium, boost each others' bioavailability (i.e., absorption) when taken together. However, there are no studies showing similar benefits or drawbacks in relation to blueberry extracts or anthocyanin supplements.

Commonly asked questions about anthocyanins 

Can I just eat extra blueberries?

Taking a supplement that contains anthocyanins ensures you're getting a clear, measurable dose of this brain-boosting antioxidant. 

 Plus, all antioxidants can degrade if the food is not properly stored. Supplements avoid this problem.

Is it possible to take too many antioxidants?

At Heights, our Smart Supplement is carefully designed to provide you with the exact amount of anthocyanins and other nutrients that you need. 

There is currently no research on upper tolerance levels of anthocyanins. 

How long does an anthocyanin supplement take to start working?  

Anthocyanin is a water-soluble flavonoid. It also has the rare ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. Thus, it's absorbed very quickly (often within three to six hours of taking the supplement).


Evidence

Here’s a handful of relevant scientific studies on blueberry polyphenols.

  • Rodriguez-Mateos, A., Cifuentes-GĂłmez, T., Tabatabaee, S., Lecras, C., & Spencer, J. P. (2012). Procyanidin, anthocyanin, and chlorogenic acid contents of highbush and lowbush blueberries. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 60(23), 5772-5778.

  • Khurana, S., Venkataraman, K., Hollingsworth, A., Piche, M., & Tai, T. C. (2013). Polyphenols: benefits to the cardiovascular system in health and in aging. Nutrients, 5(10), 3779-3827.

  • Boespflug, E. L., Eliassen, J. C., Dudley, J. A., Shidler, M. D., Kalt, W., Summer, S. S., ... & Krikorian, R. (2018). Enhanced neural activation with blueberry supplementation in mild cognitive impairment. Nutritional neuroscience, 21(4), 297-305.

  • Kalt, W., Cassidy, A., Howard, L. R., Krikorian, R., Stull, A. J., Tremblay, F., & Zamora-Ros, R. (2020). Recent research on the health benefits of blueberries and their anthocyanins. Advances in Nutrition, 11(2), 224-236.

  • Wilms, L. C., Boots, A. W., De Boer, V. C., Maas, L. M., Pachen, D. M., Gottschalk, R. W., ... & Kleinjans, J. C. (2007). Impact of multiple genetic polymorphisms on effects of a 4-week blueberry juice intervention on ex vivo induced lymphocytic DNA damage in human volunteers. Carcinogenesis, 28(8), 1800-1806. Chicago

  • Riso, P., Klimis-Zacas, D., Del Bo, C., Martini, D., Campolo, J., Vendrame, S., ... & Porrini, M. (2013). Effect of a wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) drink intervention on markers of oxidative stress, inflammation and endothelial function in humans with cardiovascular risk factors. European journal of nutrition, 52(3), 949-961.

  • Del Bo, C., Riso, P., Campolo, J., Møller, P., Loft, S., Klimis-Zacas, D., ... & Porrini, M. (2013). A single portion of blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L) improves protection against DNA damage but not vascular function in healthy male volunteers. Nutrition Research, 33(3), 220-227.

  • Willis, L. M., Shukitt-Hale, B., & Joseph, J. A. (2009). Recent advances in berry supplementation and age-related cognitive decline. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 12(1), 91-94.

  • Subash, S., Essa, M. M., Al-Adawi, S., Memon, M. A., Manivasagam, T., & Akbar, M. (2014). Neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases. Neural regeneration research, 9(16), 1557.

  • Tan, L., Yang, H., Pang, W., Li, H., Liu, W., Sun, S., ... & Jiang, Y. (2017). Investigation on the role of BDNF in the benefits of blueberry extracts for the improvement of learning and memory in Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 56(2), 629-640.

  • de Andrade Teles, R. B., Diniz, T. C., Costa Pinto, T. C., de Oliveira JĂşnior, R. G., Gama e Silva, M., de Lavor, É. M., ... & Cavalcante, T. C. F. (2018). Flavonoids as therapeutic agents in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases: a systematic review of preclinical evidences. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2018.

  • Whyte, A. R., Schafer, G., & Williams, C. M. (2016). Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7-to 10-year-old children. European journal of nutrition, 55(6), 2151-2162.

  • Yamakawa, M. Y., Uchino, K., Watanabe, Y., Adachi, T., Nakanishi, M., Ichino, H., ... & Kawata, Y. (2016). Anthocyanin suppresses the toxicity of Aβ deposits through diversion of molecular forms in in vitro and in vivo models of Alzheimer's disease. Nutritional Neuroscience, 19(1), 32-42.

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This product is not designed to replace a varied and balanced diet. Do not exceed stated dose. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any medication, please consult your doctor before use. Do not use it if the sachet has been opened. Store in a cool, dry place. Keep out of reach of children.

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