Ideally we would get most food we need for the brain from food itself. But in today’s day and age this is not always possible unless you have taken extra special care with your diet and even then it can be difficult. This list is by no means a complete list. There are many other supplements that can have great benefits for the brain. The ones I have included are the most common and basic elements. Before venturing out into more specific supplementation I invite you to build your base with the basics. The foundations of a healthy brain rest upon its ability to manage stress, having enough sunshine, minerals, certain vitamins, and healthy bacteria. For more specific supplementation I suggest consdiering getting a Hair Mineral Test Analysis done to indentify how best to support your brain and metabolism. They always are working together.
Next to water minerals are one of the most important foundations for our health. This is the one thing that most everyone is deficient in. Minerals are required for all activities in the body. Without minerals the body struggles in every area. It will have difficulty in making vitamins, hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes, healthy blood and it will affect the functioning of every organ and gland in the body including the brain. The wise doctor knows that almost all illnesses, both physical and mental, are related to mineral deficiencies. Getting a full spectrum of minerals then becomes of prime importance.
Essentially minerals create conductivity. Think about this. If you put a wire connect to a light bulb in a glass of water nothing happens. But if you put some salt in the water and do it again the light bulb shines brightly. Our bodies are not so different. In fact minerals are the main food of the nervous system and are directly what feed the brain. Minerals also help balance out our internal environment. Stress, living and foods will create more acid in the body and change our internal terrain but minerals will help to create more balance by providing greater alkalization. This is one of the main reason why vegetables are so important because they are full of minerals… if they are organic and grown in healthy bacteria rich soils. If the internal environment in our gut is balanced then so too is our brain.
Even if you are eating all organic foods you will likely need to supplement with some form of minerals. Why? Because since the early 1930’s our soils have been depleted of minerals. This means the foods you are eating are likely deficient in not only the basic minerals but also the trace element minerals as well. Chroic Long-Term Stress also leads to mineral deficiencs. It is best to get something that will provide a full spectrum of minerals as they all work together in very specific ratios and proportions. Most minerals supplements are difficult to absorb and often create more toxicity not less unless they are food based. This is why it is best to work with a professional who can best advise you. For more details on specific mineral supplements please contact our office for details.
One of the areas of research that has become more prominent this past decade is the how healthy bacteria affect our brain health. What is being shown here is that the health of our gut and digestion has a direct impact on healthy brain function. Most people should have about 80% healthy bacteria (probiotics) in the gut and 20% of unhealthy bacteria. However most people have this reversed. It is no so hard to identify. If you have regular gas and or bloating it is likely you are housing too many unfriendly bacteria. This is due to a number of factors. Drinking tap water which has chlorine in it reduces probiotics. And of course antibiotics will do the same.
Current research shows that when we do not have enough probiotices people experience mood swings, poor memory, fatigue, depression and or anxiety as well as various disturbances of the intestinal tract such as gas, bloating, cramping, or poor digestion. Therefore one easy way to start improving your physical and cognitive health is through supplementing with probitotics. One can do this through some foods such as fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or fermented milk products like kefir. Most people find that supplementing is the easiest way though to increase the friendly bacteria of our gut.
Omega 3 – Essential Fatty Acids
EPA and DHA are forms of Omega 3 fatty acids and happen to be the ones most people are deficient in. Low levels of it have been found in people who exhibit depression, memory loss, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It also plays a role in diabetes, heart disease, kidney issues, hypertension, inflammation disease such as arthritis, auto-immune disorders and cancer. Its effects are far reaching and global in nature.
The best source of Omega 3- EFA’s are to be in found in deep cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, swordfish, and shark, sardines, mackerel, herring. They can also be obtained from grass-feed beef, lamb, other wild game meats, raw dairy from grass fed animals Unfortunately many of these fish are toxic due to their heavy metal content, PCB’s and other toxic substances. Mercury is one of the main toxins now found in fish. Many BIG fish now are just not safe to eat for this reason. So if you want to get your Omega 3 EFA’s thought food then consider the smaller fish like sardines or herring. Having them 3-4 times a week or more should ensure an adequate amount of Omega-3 in your diet. Because not everyone likes sardines supplementation is often the best way to go. Omega 3’s that contain DHA and EPA, which are the most important of the EFA’s, can be found only in animal sources such as cod liver oil, fish oil. Vegetable sources of EFA’s can also be found in nuts, nut butters, avocados, olive oil and flax seed oil. However these only contain ALA fatty acids which are not easily converted to EPA or DHA.
This is often referred to as energy for the brain. Ideally we would get this from the food we eat. B-12 is mainly found in animal sources. If you are not eating animal protein then it is best to supplement. Even then many people who get a normal amount of animal protein are low in B-12. I have seen great evidence of this through observing brain maps. It often presents as low power in the brain which corresponds with a persons low energy.
Why are we not getting it through our food?
Cooking foods seems to diminish its availability and often people are not getting adequate amounts of animal protein. As we age our digestive abilities decrease. This impedes proper absorption. And finally in some cases low B-12 is due to toxicity.
Why is B-12 so important?
Because B-12 helps the nerves ‘talk’ to one another efficiently. It also helps to form myelin, which is what surrounds the nerves and helps protects them. It is like insulation for the nerves and without it one can mimic symptoms of multiple sclerosis, dementia or depression. One of the first signs seen is low energy coupled with depression. Sometimes people also experience brain fog as well. But many other neurological signs and symptoms can also present with low B-12 such as numbness, tingling, weakness of the legs, arms or trunk, forgetfulness, and memory loss just to name a few.
If you think you are low in B-12 then consider taking the Cobalamin Deficiency Criteria List and Risk Score Test. http://b12awareness.org/cobalamin-deficiency-criteria-list-risk-score-neurologic-psychiatric-gastrointestinal-hematologic/ If you are low in B-12 the best way to supplement is to see your doctor and get injections of B-12. In Russia elderly people can get it at their pharmacy and every 6 months they will do a series of 10 injections over 5 weeks. If this is not an option for you the second best way to get B-12 is through a patch applied to the skin. A company called Healthy Habits sells them through Amazon. If you are going to supplement then it is best to make sure you are getting methylcobalamin as your source of B-12 vs. cyanocabalamin. The later form does not absorb well into the body and many supplements are made with this form.
Many people now are becoming aware of the importance of Vitamin D in relationship to a healthy immune function, better bone health and reduced inflammation in the body. Not so commonly known is that Vitamin D is also important for overall brain health. A recent article in the Scientific American Journal goes into great detail about how vitamin D is used by the brain. In summarizing some of those points, research shows that vitamin D is important for overall cognitive functioning, neurotransmitter synthesis and nerve functioning.
Sunshine is the main source for Vitamin D. If people do not get enough sunshine they can even feel sad or depressed. And in extreme cases it develops into Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). One of the many positive effects of getting sunshine and exercise is that it rises levels of Vit D. Unless you are getting regular exposure to sunshine you will need to supplement with some Vitamin D as it is not easily obtained by food. It can be found in deepwater fish but in order to get enough of it you would have to eat large amounts of it just to get an adequate amount.
There are many other supplements that can be of great support for the brain for a variety of things. The ones listed above are recognized as foundational. In the same way that you would not build a house without a proper foundation, it is also true that unless you have the basic building blocks for the brain such as minerals, probitotics, Vit D and Vitamin B-12 it does not make sense to add other supplements. If you are already taking these elements then anything else you add will be able to be more effectively used. Additional supplements to consider would be the following:
- Rhodiola – this is an adaptogenic herb from Russia which has been shown to help feed the nervous system, decreases fatigue, enhances work performance, and fights depression.
- Phosphatidyl Serine (PS) – it will support cognitive functioning such as memory, learning, concentration, and word recall
- Phosphatidyl Choline (PC) – this will act as a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which helps to power the brain
- Acetyl- L-Carnitine – prevents the brain from neurotoxicity and oxygen deprivation. It also helps produce acetylcholine which is required for healthy mental functioning
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) – it can neutralize free-radicals and is one of the few supplements that can easily get into the brain.
This list is just a small sampling of supplements that support brain health. The above mentioned does not constitute advise. It is best to work with a nutritionist or health professional if you intend on supplementing. The information mentioned is purely for educational purposes.