Supporting the Brain Naturally

These nutrients and herbs can help you keep your mental edge.


March/April 2019

In a society that moves at digital speed, many people struggle with information overload—the ever-increasing amount of data that pours into our lives from social media, apps, webpages and other sources. The figures are staggering; by one estimation, we send 16 million text messages and 156 million emails every minute.

One way to protect your ability to process this torrent of information is through the use of nootropics, natural substances that help supercharge your brain and nervous system. While many nootropics are found in food, what you eat every day often doesn’t have enough nootropic power to make a real difference.

In addition to following a healthy lifestyle, including eating a proper diet, smart supplementation can help supply the nootropics your brain needs in today’s challenging world. Your best bet is to look for products that address all aspects of brain health, are free of GMOs and gluten, and are independently tested for purity, quality and potency.

 

Name What It Is What It Does for the Brain
Astaxanthin Carotenoid that gives crab, lobster, salmon and shrimp their pink color Helps keep neurons pliable and fights oxidative stress; may suppress formation of substances that can poison the cell and may also promote neurogenesis, or the development of new nerve cells
Bacopa
Bacopa monnieri, an aquatic herb native to India; also known as water hyssop Appears to enhance focus and memory by promoting proper neurotransmitter balance; has been found to improve mental processing speed while buffering the brain against stress
Curcumin
A bright-yellow compound found in turmeric, a spice used in curry A powerful anti-inflammatory that increases blood flow to the brain and helps stimulate new brain cell creation; a patented form, Longvida, has been designed for superior absorption
Huperzine
Found in Huperzia serrata, a species of club moss native to India and southeast Asia Helps boost levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter crucial to mental performance and memory; has shown an ability to aid cognitive function in studies
Lemon balm Melissa officinalis, a herb in the mint family; native to the Mediterranean region and central Asia Long used to promote sleep and reduce anxiety; may reduce brain damage from beta-amyloid; available in a patented form called Cyracos, which has been shown to also help fight stress
Lipoic acid An antioxidant that occurs in two forms, alpha and racemic lipoic acid; found in yeast, liver and other foods Has been shown to reduce age-associated loss of neurotransmitters and their cell receptors; helps protect nerves against damage caused by high glucose levels
NAC N-acetyl-cysteine, an amino acid derivative Helps protect nerve cells by controlling excessive levels of a substance called glutamate; helps replenish the antioxidant glutathione, which helps reduce age-related oxidative damage to brain cells
Omega-3 fatty acids Includes eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found in fish oil Fight inflammation and are required for healthy cell membranes; DHA is particularly crucial for proper brain function; low omega-3 levels have been linked to vascular dementia and depression
Phosphatidylserine Specialized fat molecules known as phospholipids Promotes proper binding between neurotransmitters and cell membranes; teams up with DHA to help keep brain cells healthy
PQQ Pyrroloquinoline quinone, found in a variety of foods including parsley, green pepper, kiwi fruit, papaya and tofu Helps protect mitochondria, cellular structures that produce energy; also stimulates production of nerve growth factor, required for the formation of cells crucial to cognition, learning and memory
Vinpocetine Found in the dwarf periwinkle, Vinca minor, native to
central and southern Europe
Helps tame oxidation and inflammation within the brain; protects brain cells from the effects of ischemia, or insufficient blood flow

 

NOTE: Always consult with your healthcare practitioner for help in designing a supplementation program, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.

 

More Nutritional Aids forthe Brain

Name What It Is What It Does

B-Complex

A large family of vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, pantothenic acid, biotin, B12, folate and choline

Enables all the body’s cells, including those in the brain, to generate energy; B6 and B12 are needed to build the myelin sheath around nerve cells, which speeds signals through the brain; B6, B12 and folate are needed for neurotransmitter production; choline is needed for the production of cell membranes, including those in the brain, the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which affects memory

Ginkgo

Ginkgo biloba, a long-lived tree native to China and now cultivated worldwide

Helps support blood circulation within the brain, which means that extra oxygen and nutrients can reach neurons; also serves as an antioxidant

Zinc

 

An essential mineral found in beans, meat, nuts, poultry and certain kinds of seafood

Supports transmission of impulses between neurons; deficiency has been linked to brain dysfunction

 

 

 

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