Acta Histochemica. 2017 March; 119(2): 172-180
The authors used a rat model to answer the following questions:
- Does exposure to tartrazine (Yellow 5) influence the rats’ memory and learning?
- Does the tartrazine exposure have any effects on the volume of the anterior cingulate, prelimbic, and infralimbic brain areas (called mPFC)?
- Does the exposure to tartrazine cause any changes in the number of neurons and glial cells in the mPFC? (neurons are the nerve cells; glial cells surround and support them)
- Does exposure to tartrazine change the shape and length of dendrites (spikes) of the neurons?
- Can vitamin E protect the alteration in behavioral tests and mPFC structure of the tartrazine-treated animals?
The answers they got to all questions was “yes.”
QUOTE: “In this study, a low and a high dose of tartrazine were defined as 5 and 50 mg/kg/day respectively. Five mg/kg body weight lies in the range of Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for tartrazine … The high dose was selected considering the fact that individuals’ exact intakes during the day and in different dietary habits are hard to record.”
NOTE: 5 mg/kg/day would equal 150 mg Yellow 5 for a 30 kg (66 lb) child. That is a lot, but not impossible considering that one bowl of Cap’n Crunch Oops All Berries cereal contains 41.3 mg of coloring (see Stevens 2015). A study of children in Kuwait (see Husain 2006) found that Yellow 5 was one of four food dyes the children were getting at 4 to 8 times the ADI. Certainly, enough to physically damage their brains. So how much vitamin E would they need to counteract that?
QUOTE: Conclusion: The low dose of tartrazine could induce impairments in spatial memory and dendrites structure. On the other hand, the high dose of tartrazine defected the visual memory and the structure of the mPFC as well as the spatial memory and caused dendritic changes. However, vitamin E could prevent the behavioral and structural changes.
NOTE: It’s nice to see that Vitamin E can prevent or block damage to the brain. Perhaps this can lead to an understanding of why some children are more affected than others by food dyes. But wouldn’t it be better to just avoid such chemicals in the first place? It’s not like we have any metabolic NEED for Yellow 5, is it?