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Nutrients for Brain Health

Nutrients for Healthy Brain FunctionJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), diet, exercise, sleep and our daily environmental interactions have the potential to alter brain health and mental function. Certain nutrients can influence cognition by acting on molecular systems or cellular processes that are vital for the maintenance of cognitive function, including regulation of neurotransmitter pathways, membrane fluidity and synaptic transmissions. Dietary influences may be a viable strategy to enhance cognitive abilities, protect the brain from damage, promote repair and offset the effects of aging. In addition, recent studies have shown a cooperative action of diet and exercise at the molecular level, which could influence cognitive abilities. Numerous studies have found that exercise counteracts mental decline associated with aging and facilitates functional recovery after brain injury or disease.

Several dietary components have been found to have positive and beneficial effects on cognitive and neuronal health:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Essential for normal brain function, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are normal constituents of cell membranes. DHA, a prominent component of neuronal membranes, affects brain plasticity and cognition. DHA might enhance cognitive abilities by facilitating synaptic plasticity and/or enhancing synaptic membrane fluidity; it might also act through its effects on metabolism, as DHA stimulates glucose utilization and mitochondrial function, thereby reducing oxidative stress. Dietary deficiency of omega-3’s has been associated with increased risk of dementia, depression and attention deficient disorder.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC):

Found largely in red meat, this amino acid derivative is readily absorbed throughout the body including the brain. Little evidence exists that ALC can provide a significant benefit to those already diagnosed with dementia. However, observational, clinical and randomized controlled studies suggest that ALC may benefit brain health by helping to improve memory and mitochondrial function in individuals with mild cognitive impairment. Evidence suggests that ALC may raise the levels of nerve growth factor and increase the activity of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter critical to healthy brain function, levels of which are found to be substantially low in Alzheimer’s disease.

 Magnesium L-Threonate:

This proprietary form of magnesium may be best for improving brain function. In animal studies, magnesium l-threonate was found to effectively cross the blood brain barrier and increase brain levels of magnesium. Magnesium is critical to the activation of nerve channels involved in synaptic plasticity and is thought to enhance the connections or synapses between brain neurons in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that processes memories. Profound loss of synapses is a major hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease and memory impairment. In large observational studies, high intakes of dietary magnesium have been shown to support healthy brain function. Studies also show that those with Alzheimer’s have significantly lower blood levels of this highly important mineral. Ongoing studies are examining the effects of magnesium l-threonate on enhanced learning and memory in people with dementia. Although more research is needed, increasing brain levels of magnesium may boost memory, and may help prevent or slow cognitive decline. Failure to obtain adequate magnesium can result in memory issues, anxiety and depression.

Turmeric:

Used traditionally over thousands of years for both prevention and disease therapy, modern studies have revealed that in addition to its antioxidant effects, turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antimicrobial, anti-tumor and antiviral effects, as well as cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, and nephroprotective properties. Medicines derived from plants have played a pivotal role in the healthcare of many ancient and modern cultures. Modern medicine, which is in its infancy as compared to centuries-old traditional medicines, does not hold the medicinal use of natural products in high esteem. However, plant-based drugs are more suitable in biological terms for human use. Turmeric’s powerful antioxidant properties appear to protect brain cell membranes from free radical damage. India produces most of the world’s turmeric and consumes 80 percent of it as well. Given the high consumption of curcumin in India, it’s possible that curcumin may contribute to the country’s low prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease. The pharmacological properties of turmeric are due to its large number of compounds including curcumin, volatile oil and curcuminoids.

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality supplements in support of overall wellness:

NeuroMagNeuroMag™ by Designs for Health®: NeuroMag™ is formulated with Magtein™, a unique, patented chelated mineral form of magnesium found to cross the blood brain barrier and transport magnesium ions across the lipid membranes of brain cells. NeuroMag™ may enhance cognitive abilities, as well as support age-related memory functions. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.

Acetyl L-Carnitine...Acetyl L-Carnitine 500 mg by Douglas Laboratories®: This product provides 500 mg of acetyl l-carnitine per serving in support of proper brain and nerve function maintenance during the normal aging process. Free of gluten, wheat, yeast, soy, dairy, corn, sodium, sugar, starch and artificial coloring and preservatives. Non-GMO formulation.

ProDHA MemoryProDHA Memory by Nordic Naturals: This potent, high quality formula provides a synergistic blend of DHA and other key nutrients in support of neural communication and overall brain health, as well as the structure and function of brain cells. Free of gluten, dairy, heavy metals and artificial colors and flavors. Non-GMO formulation.

Curcumin Pro-95Curcumin Pro-95 by Professional Supplement Center®: ON SALE Curcumin Pro-95 features BCM-95® curcumin complex, which provides curcuminoids, curcumin and volatile oils. This product exerts cell protective antioxidant activity, uplifts mood, and supports brain, neuronal, joint and organ health. Free of wheat, gluten, corn, yeast, soy, dairy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and artificial colors, sweeteners and preservatives. Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

References:
Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/
Turmeric, the Golden Spice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/

Curcumin

CurcuminJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Utilized throughout history for many purposes, plants evolved to produce secondary metabolites as natural defense mechanisms against disease and infection. Many plants have pharmacological or biological activities that have played a role in health care, from plant-based medicines to healthy cuisines. One such plant, Curcuma longa, has been used traditionally in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for well over 2,000 years. A close relative of the ginger family, this rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant has long been prized for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, anticoagulant, antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial and hypotensive properties. Additionally, turmeric activities have been shown to be cardio-, hepato-, nephro- and radioprotective. Turmeric, the bright yellow-orange aromatic powder, is obtained from the rhizome of the plant. The bioactive compounds it contains come mainly from fat-soluble, polyphenolic pigments known as curcuminoids. Curcumin, the principal curcuminoid, is generally considered its most active constituent.

Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), curcumin aids in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety and hyperlipidemia. It may also enhance performance and recovery in active people with exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects are seen to provide therapeutic benefits in heathy persons, as well as those with health challenges. Similar to vitamin E, curcumin’s antioxidant activity has been shown to improve systemic markers of oxidative stress due to an efficient ability to scavenge and neutralize free radicals. Oxidative stress is implicated in many chronic inflammatory diseases and conditions, including diabetes, obesity, asthma, colitis, depression and arthritis, as well Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cardiovascular diseases.

The pathological processes of oxidative stress and inflammation are closely related. Inflammatory cells release free radicals at the site of inflammation leading to oxidative stress, while free radicals enhance pro-inflammatory gene expression. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit pro-inflammatory pathways, as well as mediators of the inflammatory response. Curcumin has been extensively studied in both modern and Ayurvedic medicine for treatment of various medical conditions, including some cancers, atherosclerosis, liver diseases and arthritis. It has also been utilized in treatment of traumatic brain injury and dementia. Ongoing studies will continue regarding the potential role of curcumin in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s, as curcumin’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and lipophilic actions appear to aid and improve the cognitive functions of those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Curcumin has relatively poor bioavailability possibly due to poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and speedy elimination. However, when combined with components such as black pepper, the bioavailability greatly increases. Black pepper contains piperine, a compound that inhibits drug detoxifying enzymes, including the metabolic breakdown of turmeric compounds in the liver and digestive tract. This allows the curcuminoids to remain in the body for a longer time, thereby increasing the bioavailability of the curcuminoids. Additionally, turmeric or curcumin is best taken with a meal that contains fats or oils to aid in the enhanced absorption of the beneficial properties. When consumed with fat, curcumin is directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system, bypassing the liver, which actively attempts excretion through urination.

The beneficial effects of turmeric are traditionally achieved through dietary consumption, even at low levels, over a period of time. The traditional use of turmeric has been known to be safe for centuries. To date, no studies have discovered any toxic effects associated with turmeric use even at high doses. Phytochemical analysis of turmeric has isolated more than 100  components, many of which have potent pharmacological properties, including curcumin, volatile oil and curcuminoids.

Always check in with your healthcare provider before taking curcumin or turmeric, especially if you are taking medications or have a health condition. Supplements may increase the effects of several pharmaceutical drugs, including blood-thinning and blood-sugar lowering medications.

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality formulations for overall health support:

Turmeric Plus

Turmeric Plus by Nutritional Frontiers: This professional botanical formulation provides turmeric rhizome extract along with Bioperine® in support of free radical protection and digestive, circulatory and blood vessel health.

 

Curcumin 500 with...Curcumin 500 with Bioperine® by Pure Encapsulations®: This formula provides Curcuma longa root extract along with Bioperine® in support of the body’s natural inflammatory response, as well as healthy liver, colon, musculoskeletal and cellular function. Gluten free, Non-GMO, hypoallergenic formulation.

 

Turmeric Extract,...Turmeric Extract Full Spectrum® by Planetary™ Herbals: Planetary Herbals Full Spectrum™ Turmeric Extract consists of a concentrated turmeric extract, standardized to 95% curcuminoids, and whole turmeric rhizome. This captures a broad range of turmeric constituents in support of antioxidant protection and a healthy inflammatory response. Sourced from Certified Organic turmeric roots. Available in tablets or in a proprietary liquid blend.

 

Curcumin Extract 500...Curcumin Extract 500 mg by Vital Nutrients: This potent antioxidant formulation supports normal tissue and overall health and provides free radical defense. Free of coatings, binders, gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and sugar. Independently tested for authenticity, potency, heavy metals, residues, and toxins.

 

Curcumin Pro-95Curcumin Pro-95 by Professional Supplement Center®: This powerful blend provides BCM-95® comprising 95% total curcuminoids, curcumin and volatile oils in support of antioxidant and cell-protective activity, and brain and neuronal health, as well as a healthy microbial environment. Free of wheat, gluten, corn, yeast, soy, animal and dairy products, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, GMOs, and artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives.

References:
Turmeric, the Golden Spice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/
Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects of Human Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/
Bruno, Gene, MS, MHS, RH. Curcumin and Cardiovascular Health. Vitamin Retailer, November 2017.
Curcumin. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/curcumin
The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer’s disease: An overview. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781139/
Why Turmeric and Black Pepper Is a Powerful Combination. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/turmeric-and-black-pepper