7 Key Nutrients for Ultimate Brain Health

1. Omega 3 By now, most people are familiar with Omega 3 and some of the benefits it offers. We know it’s good for our heart but what else does it do? Omega 3 plays a crucial part in our health and well-being. It lubricates all cells, helps with hormone regulation, aids in cognitive function, as well as supporting the health of your heart, and improving your skin’s texture and appearance. With regards to brain health, it can greatly reduce symptoms of depression, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, and Bipolar disorder. The important thing to remember when supplementing with Omega 3, is that it should be coming from a healthy and clean source. The best sources are wild salmon, fatty fish such as sardines and anchovies, 100% grass fed beef, organic flax seeds, organic chia seeds, and nuts such as walnuts.

2. Multi Vitamin/Mineral A balanced Multi-Vitamin/Mineral formula should have active b vitamins and necessary minerals for proper absorption and utilization. B vitamins not only give you the energy you need for your day, they also help regulate stress hormones, and are extremely crucial for brain function. Minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and iron play a very important role in the absorption of vitamins and are also key players in helping regulate the nervous system. They boost the immune system, relieve anxiety, and optimize neurological function. To get these 3 minerals from your foods, look for organ meats like liver, (from organic grass fed meats) also, oysters, grass fed organic beef, raw nuts, and leafy green vegetables.

3. Probiotics Lately there has been a lot of attention around the subject of gut bacteria, aka microbiome. These are the good strains of bacteria that live in your gut. The connection between brain and gut is crucial to survival. Without beneficial bacteria thriving in your gut, (which is also most of your immune system), not only would your physical health be affected, but your mental health would be severely impacted. A recent study done in the Netherlands found that those who took a probiotic supplement that contained Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Lactococcus, “reported improvements in their mood and less reactivity to sad moods”. “The people who took probiotics were better able to overcome sad moods and thus had fewer depressive thoughts following bouts of sadness”. Diets high in processed foods and sugar are void of beneficial bacteria and cause a plethora of health issues. Eat a diet that contains lots of beneficial bacteria; these foods help keep inflammation down. Focus on fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and organic grass fed yogurt (without sugar).

4. Vinpocetine An alkaloid derived from the periwinkle plant, Vinpocetine has shown a lot of promise when it comes to enhancing and protecting brain function. It’s able to improve blood supply to the brain, maintain healthy levels of neurotransmitters, and aid with memory and concentration. In some countries, it is sold as a prescription and used to prevent and treat strokes. As a dietary supplement here in the United States, it has been shown to help with Alzheimer’s disease as well as Dementia. It is used for both preventing and treating many brain related disorders, both acute and long term. Speak to your health care practitioner before supplementing with it.

5. Choline Somewhat similar to B vitamins but more like an essential nutrient, Choline is responsible for many different chemical reactions in the brain and body. It helps with the transportation of fats and is responsible for neurotransmitter synthesis. It is able to help increase brain development as well as protect the liver in certain diseases. Some studies have shown it to be beneficial for patients suffering from strokes and can also benefit those suffering from certain brain related disorders. Choline also shows promise with retinal function in patients with glaucoma. If you want to find it in food, look for nuts, meats, eggs, poultry, dairy products, spinach, and beets. Or if you prefer, you can supplement with it, provided you consult with your health care practitioner first.

6. Pregnenalone Made in our bodies from the adrenal glands and central nervous system, Pregnenalone is a major hormone. Its therapeutic capabilities are able to reverse the signs of aging, fight fatigue, and boost energy. It is beneficial in decreasing anxiety and alleviating depression, as well as improving cognitive function. As we age Pregnenalone levels decline, leaving us more susceptible to damage to our brain cells. This “mother hormone” has a protective role in age related memory decline. Some recent studies showed to have a preventative role in treating Alzheimer’s disease, as well. If you are looking to use it as a supplement, it is advised to get your levels checked by a physician before adding it to your daily vitamin regimen.

7. Vitamin D3 Vitamin D3 is pretty much a superhero vitamin. It is a fat soluble vitamin (meaning it should be taken with food) responsible for strong, healthy bones and a strong immune system. It helps fight infection and has protective properties for your brain, lungs, heart and muscles. It wasn’t until recently we have found that Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of brain disorders such as Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Autism. It is estimated that around 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D. It’s an extremely important nutrient for preventing and treating neurological disorders. For the most part, many physicians are now testing patients for deficiencies. If you are looking to get it naturally, you can find it in fatty fish, egg yolks, beef liver, and some cheeses. Your body can make Vitamin D from sun exposure. It generally takes under 30 minutes on exposed arms, legs and torso. Just be careful not to roast too long.

“Vitamin D and the Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer Disease.” David Perlmutter MD. 6 Aug. 2014. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.

Bushak, Lecia. “How The Probiotics In Yogurt Can Affect Your Mood.” Medical Daily. 11 Apr. 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.

Harrison, Fiona, and James May. “Vitamin C Function in the Brain: Vital Role of the Ascorbate Transporter (SVCT2).” Free Radical Biology & Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.

Delage, Barbara. “Micronutrient Information Center.” Choline. 2015. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

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