It makes sense that what we consume on a regular basis affects every inch of our body. What people tend to forget however, is the brain. Eating right, staying health and supplementing with vitamins and minerals prolongs healthy functionality.
Omega-3 fatty or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
DHA is an Omega-3 fatty acid that is found in plentiful supply in the brain and is critical for the transmission of neuronal signals, brain development and the prevention of diseases. DHA Studies following a controlled administration of the fatty acid, have shown increased levels of antioxidants and better memory function. Deficiencies of the fatty acid have therefore been intrinsically associated with both mild and severe mental and emotional disorders including but not limited to: memory loss, Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorder, lack of concentration and attention deficit disorders resulting from degenerative changes in the brain’s complicated nervous system.
Omega-3s are used in the formation of cell walls, making them supple and flexible, and supporting circulation and oxygen uptake with proper red blood cell flexibility and function. For this reason, consuming foods, however, that are rich in natural omega 3 or DHA such as fish, fish oil or supplementing your intake with off-the-counter flaxseed oil will stimulate brain activity reducing the risk of cognitive disabilities such as Alzheimer’s or lessening symptoms.
Natural Vitamin E/Tocotrienols/ tocopherol
The common household product Vitamin E is actually made up of 4 different tocotrienols and 4 tocopherols, of which the d-alpha tocopherol is considered to be the most important. Possessing powerful antioxidant, anti cancer and anti cholesterol lowering properties, vitamin E is the major lipid-soluble substance in the body maintaining neurological function and balance of Arachidonic acid, found to be particularly abundant in the brain. An important contributor to early neurological development, disturbed levels of AA have equally been linked to neurological disorders later on in life. The ability of AA to protect the brain from oxidative stress has also been demonstrated in studies where it is administered to patients with early onset of neurological disorders to reduce symptoms.
The study found that those participants whose supplemental vitamin E consumption was higher, experienced a 36% reduction of the severity of their symptoms. Natural sources of vitamin E such as the one consumed in foods will, however, have a greater effect over synthetically enriched foods. Foods naturally rich in vitamin E include: walnuts, pecans, sesame seeds, wheat germ and spinach.
Phosphatidylserine is a chemical in the body with an important role of sustaining cellular function, especially in the brain. Supplements of Phosphatidylserine have been linked to the prevention of mental decline in elderly people who may not be able to produce enough of these important fat-soluble substances found in high concentration in brain cell membranes. Effecting the transmition of nerve impulses, people without sufficient levels of the naturally occurring fatty substance have thus been seen to show increased signs of cognitive deficit and clinical studies involving the administration of Phosphatidylserine (or PS) have been shown to effect mental acuity, attentiveness and awareness. In essence, the presence of PS in the brain enables cells to metabolize glucose and bind with neurotransmitters. By modulating the fluidity of the cell membranes, the brain cells are able to communicate, efficiently transmitting all-important neuronal signals that affect both mental capabilities as well as memory. Phosphatidylserine has also shown to be involved with the brain’s production of dopamine, reduced levels of which, will initiate the onset of attention deficit disorder.
Often referred to as the “miracle molecule” due to its associated anti-aging properties, Phosphatidylcholine is an integral component of every cell. Found in abundance in a group of phospholipids known as “essential phospholipids”, it helps form the structural network surrounding our cells and plays a vital role in maintaining cell structure, fat metabolism, memory while helping to form the nerve signaling molecules.
A similar substance to a vitamin, Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is found throughout the body with large amount in the cerebral cortex. Drawn upon for cell maintenance and growth as well as being a powerful antioxidant, CoQ10 is found in the mitochondria of cells, helping to produce the energy-rich compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
Charged with providing sufficient energy for the brain, Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) cannot be produced without sufficient levels of CoQ10, low levels leading to the onset of neurodegenerative conditions. Levels of CoQ10 therefore need to be carefully balanced in order to be able to increase ATP productivity although synthetic versions of CoQ10 are however, fairly difficult to be absorbed into the brain’s blood stream. Doctors therefore recommend that CoQ10 should only be taken when formulated with vitamin E or safe chemicals such as MicosolleÂ® used to enhance absorption, rather then harsh solvents such as propylene glycol which is considered as toxic for the body.
A member of polyphenolic compounds called flavonoids; Quercetin is known for its strong antioxidant activity and its ability to neutralize free radicals produced when cells burn oxygen for energy. Protecting the cells in this way stops the free radicals from causing cumulative cell damage that could lead to degenerative cognitive disorders.
Quercetin is also widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is hence an important protector against brain cell damage that often leads to neuronal conditions such as Alzheimer’s’ Parkinson’s and dementia.
The vitamin B family 1- 12 is often taken as a supplement called Vitamin B complex. It is vitamin B12, however which is the most closely associated with regularizing normal brain activity. Involved in cell energy production and acting as a coenzyme to help enzymes react with one another, Vitamin B12 is just as important as any of the other brain nutrient.
The chemical balance in the brain is one that is so incredibly delicate, a web of chemical interconnectivity where each chemical compound has a role to play based on the activity of another. Reducing or removing a substance from this balanced play of neurotransmissions and antioxidants, can slow down and even halt regular brain activity. As cells die and we become slower in our activities and unable to self produce everything we need, it is therefore even more critical to supplement these substances as safely as possible by eating the right foods and where necessary, substituting with a synthetic counterparts.
Leaving the brain without sufficient supply of energy-producing nutrients, antioxidants and substances that aid the smooth transmission of neuronal signals, the brain effectively becomes malnourished and our cognitive processes start to fail. Just as a car without sufficient petrol will eventually come to a halt, it is understandable that the very same will happen to the brain if we don’t keep it healthy.
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