RELEVATE Nutrients


Key Food Groups: Tea

Catechins: Role in Brain Health

Catechins are a large family of structurally similar, neuroactive molecules that work together to perform antioxidant and anti-inflammatory roles in the brain. Catechins are primarily: epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), epi-gallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG) and epicatechin (EC). They are rich in green tea, and they readily cross into the brain.1,2 They are extremely potent antioxidants because they support glutathione (a master antioxidant) and related antioxidant systems.3 Catechins are also involved in various inflammatory mechanisms; this is associated with a reduced production of inflammatory molecules and reduced inflammatory damage that may lead to neuronal degeneration and death.4,5

Intake Deficiency and Relevance

Most international communities get more than half of their total flavonoid (healthy phytonutrients) intake from teas, given the relatively low dietary consumption of fruits and vegetables.6 Americans are unique in their relatively low intakes of all three – teas, fruits and vegetables – placing them at a substantial comparative catechin deficiency compared to Europe and East Asia.

The comparative deficiency could make a difference: consumption of green tea, a rich source of dietary catechins, is positively correlated with reduced incident dementia.7,8 Differences in the processing of Camellia sinensis, the plant from which tea comes, alters the amount of catechins found in different types of teas. Green tea is not fermented, which is why it contains substantially more catechins than black tea or oolong tea.9 Hence, we focus on green tea intake, since it uniquely and abundantly delivers the four major catechins – EGCG (most abundant), as well as EGC, ECG, and EC.10

RELEVATE’s Form of Catechins

We aim to supplement a ratio of catechins seen naturally in green tea to support one’s cognitive function and health. Thus, we include a catechin composition made up of approximately 50% EGCG with the remainder being a combination of EGC, ECG, and EC; this comes from an extract of green tea that is concentrated to 80% catechins. Quality and concentration of catechins in green tea leaves varies widely depending on production and storage of the leaves,11 which is why control of extract catechin concentration is important – so you know how much you are getting with each dose.

Our dosage was determined in-part by a systematic analysis that evaluated specific intakes of many types of teas (green tea, black tea, oolong tea, etc) and found a positive dose-response correlation between consumption of tea and a decreased risk of cognitive disorders.12 Additionally, we considered bioavailability, and noted some reports showing catechin levels in the blood are increased with omega-3 intake, which informed the inclusion of omega-3’s in our own product design.13

Concluding Thoughts to Consider

There is an extensive number of observational studies supporting the benefits of green tea intake in long-term brain function.14,15 Also, in clinical studies, catechins have shown significant effects on mood,16 memory,17 and MRI-based investigations.18 After considering the body of evidence regarding catechins, green tea, and brain function, as well as the comparatively low consumption of catechin-rich foods in North America, we conclude that catechins offer important benefits to cognition and overall brain health and should be strongly considered for our nutritional regimens.


Cited Research

  1. Lin, L.-C., Wang, M.-N., Tseng, T.-Y., Sung & Tsai, T.-H. Pharmacokinetics of (−)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate in Conscious and Freely Moving Rats and Its Brain Regional Distribution. J. Agric. Food Chem. 55, 1517–1524 (2007).
  2. Pervin, M. et al. Blood brain barrier permeability of (−)-epigallocatechin gallate, its proliferation-enhancing activity of human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, and its preventive effect on age-related cognitive dysfunction in mice. Biochem. Biophys. Reports 9, 180–186 (2017).
  3. Basu, A. et al. Green tea supplementation increases glutathione and plasma antioxidant capacity in adults with the metabolic syndrome. Nutr. Res. 33, 180–187 (2013).
  4. Singh, B. N., Shankar, S. & Srivastava, R. K. Green tea catechin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG): Mechanisms, perspectives and clinical applications. Biochemical Pharmacology (2011). doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2011.07.093
  5. Konishi, Y., Kobayashi, S. & Shimizu, M. Tea Polyphenols Inhibit the Transport of Dietary Phenolic Acids Mediated by the Monocarboxylic Acid Transporter (MCT) in Intestinal Caco-2 Cell Monolayers. (2003). doi:10.1021/jf034894t
  6. Hertog, M. & Feskens, E. Dietary Flavonoids and Cancer Risk in the Zutphen Elderly Study. (1994).
  7. Kuriyama, S. et al. Green tea consumption and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study from the Tsurugaya Project. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 83, 355–361 (2006).
  8. Tomata, Y. et al. Green Tea Consumption and the Risk of Incident Dementia in Elderly Japanese: The Ohsaki Cohort 2006 Study. Am. J. Geriatr. Psychiatry 24, 881–889 (2016).
  9. Peterson, J. et al. Major flavonoids in dry tea. J. Food Compos. Anal. 18, 487–501 (2005).
  10. Yong Feng, W. Metabolism of Green Tea Catechins: An Overview. Curr. Drug Metab. 7, 755–809 (2006).
  11. Peres, R. G., Tonin, F. G., Tavares, M. F. M. & Rodriguez-Amaya, D. B. Determination of catechins in green tea infusions by reduced flow micellar electrokinetic chromatography. Food Chem. 127, 651–655 (2011).
  12. Liu, X., Du, X., Han, G. & Gao, W. Association between tea consumption and risk of cognitive disorders: A dose-response meta-analysis of observational studies. Oncotarget 8, 43306–43321 (2017).
  13. Mereles, D. & Hunstein, W. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) for clinical trials: More Pitfalls than Promises? International Journal of Molecular Sciences 12, 5592–5603 (2011).
  14. Shirai, Y. et al. Green tea and coffee intake and risk of cognitive decline in older adults: The National Institute for Longevity Sciences, Longitudinal Study of Aging. Public Heal. Nutr. 23, 1049–1057 (2020).
  15. Naumovski, N. et al. The association between green and black tea consumption on successful aging: A combined analysis of the Attica and Mediterranean Islands (MEDIS) epidemiological studies. Molecules 24, (2019).
  16. Brown, A. L. et al. Effects of dietary supplementation with the green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate on insulin resistance and associated metabolic risk factors: Randomized controlled trial. Br. J. Nutr. 101, 886–894 (2009).
  17. Park, S.-K. et al. A Combination of Green Tea Extract and l -Theanine Improves Memory and Attention in Subjects with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study. J. Med. Food 14, 334–343 (2011).
  18. Borgwardt, S. et al. Neural effects of green tea extract on dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 66, 1187–1192 (2012).