Supplements for the brain


In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week I am sharing my top supplements to keep your brain healthy.  Never think that you are 'too old' to be able to improve your brain function - that simply isn't true.  It used to be thought that we were born with a certain number of brain cells (neurons), but these died slowly over the years, and because new ones could not replace them, we decline as we age.  Now we know this is not the case - we can form new neurons throughout our lives. Even more exciting we can also form new neural pathways, that is connections between neurons in the brain.  This explains why people with brain damage are able to heal and gives us hope that age related decline of brain function may be preventable.  
As always seek permission from your medical practitioner before taking any supplements. 

So here goes

Gingko biloba - I have been taking this herb for some time.  There has been some excitement about it recently because it has been shown to have the potential to treat Alzheimer's and in fact it is prescribed in France and Germany.  It works by thinning the blood so that more oxygen and nutrients reach the brain.  The brain is an oxygen 'guzzler' using  20% of the oxygen taken into your body and around 20% of the body's glucose in the blood (glucose is the end product of the digestion of carbs.  Glucose can also be the result of protein digestion where there is more protein than your body needs).  Where the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients brain function will be impaired.  Just one thing - don't take this herb if you are taking NSAIDS such as aspirin or ibuprofen or blood thinners such as warfarin.  

As you can see from reading the above it is important to keep your arteries clear so that blood can flow freely to your brain.  Regular cholesterol checks are important.  If your cholesterol is higher than it should be I would recommend Serraenzyme.  This reduces plaques and inflammation which can lead to memory loss, brain fog, anxiety, depression and Alzheimer's. Also cut out foods that trigger inflammation such as processed food, sugar, and limit saturated fat.  Include plenty of good oils in your diet from nuts, seeds etc Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains for fibre and antioxidants.

Omega 3 - omega 3 is rich in fatty acids such as DHA which is essential to normal brain function. In fact it helps build brain cell membranes and can reduce inflammation. It appears to have a role in memory and behaviour. Please see 'Where do vegans get their omega 3s from'. Vegan omega 3 supplements are derived from cultivated algae.

Curcumin is a constituent of turmeric.  This can help the brain in several ways.  Please see 'Turmeric  - the brain protector spice'-.  Although you can take curcumin as a supplement (which is why it is included in my list of top supplements for the brain) studies show that it is better to take you curcumin in your food.  Curry tonight it is then!

Ashwagandha can help reduce stress.  This is important because stress can alter the structure of the brain and neural connectivity.  Stress also affects sleep and poor sleep can impair brain function.   Please see 'An ayurveda herb for anxiety'-

Acetyl-C-carnitine is the only supplement on my list that I haven't actually tried but it has been shown to benefit early dementia and mild memory impairment.  It is said to improve mental energy levels.

You might also like 'Yoga to help make new neural connections' and
'How can vegans eat to beat inflammation



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