Tag Archives: Nutrients for Healthy Brain Function

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/

Nutrients for Healthy Brain Function

BrainFunctionJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Along with concern over the ability to continue living independently, many seniors are apprehensive about maintaining mental acuity. Most individuals are aware that some degree of forgetfulness and cognitive decline is considered normal with aging. However, cognitive decline greater than what is expected for one’s age and educational level is indeed cause for apprehension, because with age we become increasingly susceptible to chronic and debilitating brain diseases. Although the normal process of brain atrophy occurs even in cognitively healthy persons, the atrophy occurs more rapidly in persons who have cognitive decline that progresses to Alzheimer’s disease.

Growing research has demonstrated the beneficial impact of nutrition as a preventive strategy for reduced risk of cognitive decline and for maintenance of executive function. Executive function is defined as a set of mental skills that enables one to get things done, manage time, pay attention, switch focus, plan, organize, and multitask. Recognizing and reducing the factors that contribute to brain atrophy may be one strategy to slow the process of neurodegeneration. In older adults, research has underscored the potential impact of nutritional factors and individual micronutrients on the brain and cognitive function. Subclinical deficiencies commonly seen in the general population, and seniors in particular, include the B vitamins, folate, B12 and B6.

Science shows that elevated blood levels of homocysteine is one factor that contributes to brain atrophy, as well as to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Homocysteine is a chemical byproduct of normal protein metabolism found to some degree in everyone’s bloodstream. When homocysteine levels are abnormally high, there’s an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hardening of the arteries, isolated systolic hypertension, blood clots, and dementia, factors which may ultimately lead to heart attacks, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease. High homocysteine levels may be attributed to genetics, certain medications, kidney disease, and thyroid hormone insufficiency, as well as B vitamin and folate deficiencies.

While it remains unclear whether high homocysteine levels are the cause or the effect of disease, elevated levels are recognized as being associated with brain atrophy, dementia, depression, and Alzheimer’s. Folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are all involved in the break down and conversion of homocysteine into methionine, a protein building block. Increasing intake of these vitamins may lower blood levels of homocysteine. Folate can be found green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, most beans and fortified foods. Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products, seafood, fortified cereals and enriched soy or rice milks. Good sources of B6 include beans, poultry, dark leafy greens and some fruits. A daily multivitamin can help ensure adequate intake of these important vitamins.

There is growing support for the premise that optimal B vitamin status may prevent, slow or even reverse deterioration in memory and other mental capacities important to quality of life in older individuals. Folate, B6 and B12 may function to preserve and protect the integrity of the central nervous system through its role in the prevention of vascular disease. In addition to the B vitamins, vitamins C and D are key to optimal brain health and function. Vitamin C is essential to the production of neurotransmitters that affect the ability to focus, concentrate, and remember. They also control mood, sleep, cravings, addictions, and more.

As a cofactor necessary for serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine production, vitamin C is essential for a positive mood. A potent antioxidant, vitamin C helps to protect the brain from oxidative stress and free radical damage. A meta-analysis of studies found that a diet rich in vitamins C and E was linked to a 20-25% decrease in Alzheimer’s risk. Vitamin C acts as a powerful detoxifier that helps to remove heavy metal accumulation from the brain. By helping to build collagen that keeps arteries flexible, vitamin C improves blood flow, delivering increased oxygen and nutrients to properly nourish the brain. Fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries and watermelon, tomatoes, bell peppers and cruciferous vegetables, especially when eaten raw.

Vitamin D micronutrient deficiency has reached epic proportions, affecting an estimated 77% of Americans. Pre-hormone vitamin D is necessary for normal brain development in utero, as well as throughout childhood. Vitamin D receptors are wide spread in brain tissue, and biologically active Vitamin D has been shown to be neuroprotective, aiding the clearance of amyloid plaques seen in Alzheimer’s. Vitamin D activates and deactivates enzymes in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid involved in neurotransmitter synthesis and nerve growth. Studies suggest that vitamin D protects neurons and reduces damaging inflammation.

A study led by neuroscientist David Llewellyn of the University of Cambridge assessed the correlation between vitamin D levels and cognitive function in 1,700 men and women aged 65 and older. Those deficient in vitamin D exhibited slower information-processing speed, and were up to four times more likely to be cognitively impaired as compared with people with optimum vitamin D levels. Research shows it may be difficult to get sufficient vitamin D from dietary sources alone. Those who are not getting 15-30 minutes of sunshine on their torso a minimum of three times a week, would be well advised to supplement with vitamin D for brain health and overall wellness.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are vital for the maintenance of normal brain development and function throughout life. Low levels of omega-3’s may accelerate brain aging and contribute to deficits in brain function. Fish oil is found to be effective in reducing inflammation in the blood and tissues. Promising studies suggest that fish oil may help relieve mental fatigue and stress and may help women to reduce the risk of developing depression. Research suggests that those with mild cognitive impairment or mild declines in brain function may benefit the most from fish oil supplementation. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends omega-3 fatty acids as a possible defense against Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

Professional Supplement Center carries many high quality products to support brain and overall health:

Pro Methyl BalancePro Methyl Balance by Professional Supplement Center®: On SALE! Pro Methyl Balance is formulated to provide high levels of highly active and bioavailable forms of folate and vitamin B12 in support of homocysteine management, neurological function, and a healthy inflammatory response. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

Homocysteine FactorsHomocysteine Factors by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic formula provides the highly bioavailable folate Metafolin®, activated vitamin B6, anhydrous betaine, and vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin, in support of healthy homocysteine metabolism. Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

B-Complex with...B Complex with Metafolin® by Douglas Laboratories®: This comprehensive B vitamin supplement provides highly bioavailable B vitamins plus intrinsic factor, a nutrient necessary for optimal B12 absorption. Gluten, soy, dairy, yeast and artificial ingredient free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

Vitamin D3 5,000 IUVitamin D3 5,000 IU by Professional Supplement Center®: On SALE! This product supplies highly bioavailable vitamin D3 in support of proper nervous system function, healthy cardiovascular function and a normal immune response. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.

ProDHA Eye 1000 mgProDHA™ 1000 mg by Nordic Naturals®:  On SALE! This high potency formula provides an essential nutrient for brain health, healthy mood, cognitive function, and the structural integrity of the central nervous system. Third party tested for heavy metals and toxins. Gluten, dairy and artificial ingredient free, Non-GMO formulation.

Buffered Vitamin CBuffered Vitamin C by Integrative Therapeutics®: One serving supplies one gram of vitamin C buffered with magnesium and calcium in support of healthy skin, collagen production, and connective tissue and bone health. Gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, yeast, and artificial ingredient free, vegetarian formulation.

Vitamin E (with...Vitamin E with Mixed Tocopherols by Pure Encapsulations®: This powerful antioxidant supplement plays a beneficial role in cellular respiration, mitochondrial function, blood vessel health and protein metabolism. Artificial ingredient free, Non-GMO formulation.

References:
B vitamins, cognition and aging: a review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11682586
Bruno, Gene, MS, MHS, Rh. B Vitamins and Cognition, Vitamin Retailer, Dec. 2017.
Nutrition for the ageing brain: Towards evidence for an optimal diet. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568163716301027
Three of the B Vitamins: Folate, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b/
Homocysteine and MTHFR Mutations. Relation to Thrombosis and Coronary Artery Disease. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/111/19/e289
Does Vitamin D Improve Brain Function? https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-d-make-a-difference/
Vitamin D and cognitive function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22536767