Brain health is a hot topic with the rapidly increasing incidences of memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Nursing homes are overflowing with cases of brain disorders. Preventing cognitive energy loss may be one of the most important nutritional goals a person may have! A high quality lifestyle is built upon a strong body and maintaining a sharp mind. Cognitive function includes three major components: learning, memory, and intuition.
According to Lancet’s leading research, poor brain function may be triggered by poor digestion. Nearly half of those taking part in a clinical study with inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) concurrently exhibited a brain disorder. The gut-brain axis is of vital importance. A disrupted intestinal tract sends signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain also sends signals to the digestive organs. Intestinal distress can be the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. There is a direct link between the quality of the intestinal microbiome and stability of the central nervous system.
“The specific role of gut microbiota in modulating neuro-immune functions well beyond the gastrointestinal tract may constitute an important influence on the process of neurodegeneration.”1
A Good Diet Improves Cognitive Function
Long-term intake of vegetables and fruits supports cognitive function, according to a huge long-term study of nearly 28,000 men published in 2018. The study began back in 1986 with the average person being around 50 years old, and it lasted for twenty-six years. The group that ate six or more servings of vegetables and fruits per day maintained much better cognitive function compared to the group that only ate two servings per day. The study concluded that higher intakes of total vegetables and fruits are significantly associated with lower odds of poor cognitive function.
Stretching for Improving Brain Circulation
Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) surrounds the brain and flows through the entire spinal cord. When a person is sedentary, the CSF doesn’t circulate as often as necessary for optimal brain function. To improve circulation to the brain, this sitting stretch works great! Inhale deeply while stretching backwards with the arms stretched outward. Arch the back as far as possible, tilting the head back as well. After holding this stretch as long as possible while inhaling, exhale and bend downward towards the knees. Roll into a ball stretching the spine, rounding the back as much as possible. Stretch the arms down in front towards the floor. Exhale as much air as possible. Repeat this stretch at least ten times. Feel the warmth of improved circulation and energy flowing through the spine. Doing this stretching exercise twice a day improves brain circulation and cognitive function.
Essential Fatty Acids
Healthy fat comprises more than half of the brain. Supplying a variety of healthy fats in the diet is essential for brain nutrition.
“Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are required for maintenance of optimal health but they can not synthesized by the body and must be obtained from dietary sources. Clinical observation studies has related imbalance dietary intake of fatty acids to impaired brain performance and diseases.”2
Three Stages in Neurological Disorder (Kindlycare)
Early Stage – Symptoms typically include forgetfulness, misplacing things, and difficulty finding the right words when speaking.
Mid Stage – Increased confusion, memory loss, and worsening of judgment, including losing track of what day it is. Recall becomes increasingly difficult.
Late Stage –In this stage, physical abilities begin to decline as well: difficulty eating and swallowing, inability to control bladder and bowel movement, difficulty walking, etc.
Alzheimer’s is termed type 3 diabetes when cognitive decline is triggered by insulin resistance in the brain. This occurs when neurons in the brain are unable to respond to insulin, which is essential for memory and learning. Thus, blood sugar balance aids in preventing memory loss. While the brain accounts for only about 3% of the total body’s weight, it consumes approximately 25% of the total blood glucose. The brain is busy working all the time, while awake and while asleep. Supplying the brain with necessary nutrients and stable blood sugar aids in preventing neurological disorders.
Ten Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s (Alzheimer’s Assoc.)
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
4. Confusion with time or place
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
8. Decreased or poor judgment
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood and personality
“Literature searches were carried out to identify recent clinical trials, reviews, editorials and meetings describing the biochemical and physiological role of individual micronutrients. No attempt was made to grade the evidence. The searches confirmed that the water-soluble vitamins (B group and C), together with the minerals, calcium, magnesium and zinc, are most relevant to cognitive performance. Clinical evidence revealed that marginal deficiencies of one or more of these micronutrients are not uncommon, even in the developed countries, and that such deficiencies may affect cognitive performance,especially in vulnerable groups such as the elderly and those individuals who are exposed to occupational pressures and a stressful lifestyle.”3
Water-soluble vitamins – B and C
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – The principal physiological role of thiamine is as a coenzyme in carbohydrate metabolism. The thiamine coenzyme thiamine pyrophosphate is required for several stages in the breakdown of glucose to provide energy. It also plays a role in the conduction of nerve impulses. The brain and the peripheral nerves contain significant amounts of thiamine, which has numerous roles within nerve tissue.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – After intestinal absorption, riboflavin is converted to the coenzymes flavin mononucleotide and flavin adenine dinucleotide. Physiologically, riboflavin acts as an intermediary in numerous oxidation–reduction reactions. Thus, it is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and in energy production. Importantly, riboflavin is essential for the conversion of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and folic acid into their coenzyme forms, and for the transformation of tryptophan to niacin.
Niacin refers to both nicotinic acid and its amide derivative nicotinamide (niacinamide). In cells, niacin is converted into its coenzyme forms, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and NAD phosphate (NADP), both of which play an important role in energy metabolism. At least 200 enzymes are known to be dependent on NAD or NADP. Most of the NAD-dependent enzymes are involved in catabolic reactions, such as the oxidation of fuel molecules, whereas NADP more commonly functions in reductive, biosynthetic reactions of such compounds as fatty acids and steroids. Niacin is also involved in the conversion of riboflavin and vitamin B6 into their active forms.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is converted in the liver and other tissues to pyridoxal phosphate and pyridoxamine phosphate. These coenzymes are distributed throughout the tissues, and serve primarily as coenzymes in transamination reactions. Pyridoxal phosphate acts as a cofactor for a large number of enzymes involved in the synthesis, catabolism, decarboxylation, racemization and other transformations of amino acids, and in the metabolism of lipids and nucleic acids. It is also the essential coenzyme for phosphorylation of glycogen and approximately half of all the vitamin B6 in the body is found in the phosphorylase of skeletal muscle. In the central and peripheral nervous systems, vitamin B6 is essential for the synthesis of adrenaline (epinephrine), serotonin, dopamine, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), tyramine and other neurotransmitters. Vitamin B6 participates in the conversion of tryptophan to the vitamin niacin, and pyridoxine deficiency blocks this process. Other vitamins of the B complex (niacin, riboflavin and biotin) are thought to act synergistically with pyridoxine. Niacin and riboflavin are required for the interconversion of the different forms of vitamin B6.
Folic acid (vitamin B9) is the name given to a family of compounds known as folates, which are found in a wide variety of foods. Folic acid is widely distributed in the tissues. The principal storage organ is the liver, which contains about half of the body’s stores. Tetrahydrofolic acid, which is the active form of folate in the body, acts as a coenzyme in numerous essential metabolic reactions. It plays an important role in the metabolism of amino acids, including homocysteine (Hcy), in the synthesis of nucleic acids and in the formation of blood cells and nerve tissue. It is essential for growth and for the proper functioning of the bone marrow and nervous tissue. Proper folate utilization and metabolism depend on an adequate supply of other vitamins of the B group.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) refers to a group of cobalt containing compounds known as cobalamins. In the human body, the predominant forms are adenosylcobalamin, methylcobalamin and hydroxycobalamin. The cobalamins are found mainly in the liver, but the kidneys, heart and brain also contain higher than average concentrations. The pituitary gland has the highest concentrations per gram of tissue of any organ in the body. The specific biochemical reactions in which cobamide coenzymes play a role are of two types: (i) those catalysed by adenosylcobalamin, and (ii) those catalysed by methylcobalamin. Adenosylcobalamin catalyses a reaction in the pathway for the degradation of certain amino acids and odd chain fatty acids. Methylcobalamin plays an important role in the transformation of homocysteine into the amino acid methionine. Vitamin B6 and folate are also necessary for this reaction and in their absence homocysteine accumulates.
B vitamins and Homocysteine – Homocysteine (Hcy) is an amino acid essential for normal cellular functions. While low levels are harmless, higher concentrations can undermine normal cellular functioning, especially in rapidly dividing tissue, and are linked to a growing number of diseases. The average Hcy level in the body is 5 – 15 µmol. Levels exceeding 15 µmol are considered a sign for hypercysteinaemia and correlate with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Growing evidence suggests that elevated Hcy levels may lead to a permanent impairment of cognitive function. Absent from any alimentary source, Hcy is produced by the demethylation of dietary methionine. Hcy is back-recycled into methionine through a re-methylation pathway involving folic acid and vitamin B12 as cofactor and co-substrate: the methyl group of methyltetrahydrofolate (an active form of folic acid) is transferred to Hcy to form methionine and tetrahydrofolate, and the enzyme responsible for this reaction requires vitamin B12 as a cofactor. When methionine is in excess or cysteine is required, Hcy is converted in an alternative ‘trans-sulphuration’ pathway to cysteine using vitamin B6 as coenzyme. Deficiencies of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 can lead to an accumulation of Hcy observed in the blood and urine.
Biotin and is a cofactor in four carboxylase enzymes located in the brain, kidney, heart and liver. These biotin-dependent enzymes are involved in the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and the utilization of other B vitamins. In the respective enzymatic reactions the biotin moiety plays the role of a carboxyl carrier during CO2 transfer.
Pantothenic Acid – High concentrations are found in the brain, liver, kidney and heart. The primary physiological role of pantothenic acid is as a constituent of coenzyme A, which plays a key role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It is thus involved in the maintenance and repair of all cells and tissues, and in the synthesis of sterols, hormones, antibodies and neurotransmitters. Vitamin B12 is thought to facilitate the conversion of pantothenic acid to coenzyme A. Other B vitamins, including folic acid, biotin and vitamin B6, are necessary for proper utilization of pantothenic acid, and vitamin C has been shown to ameliorate pantothenic acid deficiency.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is distributed to most tissues, with the highest concentrations being found in the pituitary gland (400 mg/kg) and brain; however, the body’s storage capacity is low. Vitamin C is principally required for the synthesis of collagen, it is also needed for the synthesis of bile acids and aids in the absorption of dietary iron. In the nervous system, vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline. Other important roles of vitamin C include: the synthesis of a number of hormones (e.g., noradrenaline or hormones activated via vitamin C-dependent amidation such as, calcitonin, vasopressin, oxytocin, cholecystokinin, gastrin), the immune system function, redox/antioxidant function, and protection against the formation of potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines from nitrite-containing foods such as smoked meats. Vitamin C is essential for the metabolism and utilization of folic acid and also acts synergistically with zinc in collagen formation (such that lack of either leads to skin changes and delayed wound healing).
Minerals – calcium, magnesium and zinc
Calcium plays a central role in nerve excitability, as an intracellular messenger and in the regulation of neurotransmission. Plasma calcium is also essential for the regulation of numerous vital cell functions: including muscle contraction, nerve conduction, blood clotting and membrane permeability. Intake of calcium up to about 120 mg in a meal is mainly absorbed by active transport; amounts above this level are absorbed by diffusion. Since diffusion is a relatively inefficient process, the proportion of calcium absorbed decreases as dietary calcium increases, but the absolute amount absorbed continues to increase. Because of the large reservoirs of calcium in bone, hypocalcaemia (low blood calcium) is relatively rare and, when it does occur, is usually due to drug treatment, such as vigorous diuresis, rather than due to dietary deficiency. Hypercalcaemia is more common, usually caused by parathyroid abnormalities, but occasionally by excessive consumption of vitamin D tablets, with or without calcium (vitamin D intoxication or hypervitaminosis D). Calcium-dependent processes, such as growth and development of bones and teeth, and functioning of the nervous system, are also dependent on vitamin C and the B vitamins. Vitamin B6 is thought to regulate calcium influx into vascular smooth muscle.
Magnesium (Mg) is vital for the activity of more than 300 enzymes and plays an important role in neurochemical transmission and muscular excitability. The Mg–adenosine triphosphate (Mg–ATP) complex is involved in all-important biosynthetic processes: glycolysis, formation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), energy-dependent membrane transport and transcription of the genetic code. Many of these enzymes also require a B vitamin as a cofactor. Specifically, magnesium is essential for all enzymes requiring vitamin B1 as a cofactor. Both magnesium and vitamin B2 are required for the conversion of vitamin B6 into its active form. Extra-cellular magnesium is critical for the maintenance of nerve and muscle membranes and for the transmission of impulses across neuromuscular junctions. There are also a number of antagonistic and synergistic interactions between magnesium and calcium. Of particular relevance here is the interaction between magnesium and calcium in the regulation of the permeability of nerve and muscle cells, which governs neuromuscular excitability. So constant is this relationship that mathematical formulae have been derived that allow excitability to be calculated from the concentration of electrolytes in the surrounding intercellular fluid: Excitability = (K+)•(Na+) (Ca+)•(Mg2+)•(H+) Since excitability is related to the reciprocal of the magnesium and calcium concentrations, it can be seen that deficiency of either or both micronutrient leads to an increase in excitability. Clinically, deficiency of either ion may lead to muscle disturbances (e.g. cramps, tetany), cardiac abnormalities, neurological system symptoms (e.g. paraesthesias, irritability) or to psychiatric disturbances. Contrary to widespread belief, data show that no competition exists between magnesium and calcium for absorption in the intestine. Calcium supplementation does not decrease magnesium absorption and an intake of up to 800 mg magnesium does not affect intestinal calcium absorption.
Zinc is required as a component of more than 200 enzymes and as a structural component of many proteins, hormones, hormone receptors and neuropeptides. In the CNS, zinc has an additional role as a neurosecretory product and cofactor. In this role, zinc is highly concentrated in the synaptic vesicles of the so-called ‘zinc containing’ neurons. These neurons are found almost exclusively in the forebrain. While the precise role of zinc in the brain still remains to be discovered, it has been established that neuropsychological impairment is one major health consequence of zinc deficiency. Zinc is absorbed mainly in the proximal small intestine by an active transport mechanism. Absorbed zinc is bound to albumin and transported to the liver in the portal system. From the liver, zinc is distributed to all tissues, with the highest concentrations found in skeletal muscle. Turnover is rapid and, although the liver may retain zinc, there are no specific stores. A marked reduction in dietary zinc is quickly followed by signs of zinc deficiency. It is thought that even in developed countries many people are zinc deficient. In a recent study of rural, community-dwelling elderly people in the USA, it was estimated that more than 25% were zinc deficient. Black cites evidence that zinc deficiency is ‘a major public health problem’ in the USA. Besides the impairment of cognitive function, zinc deficiency causes an impaired collagen formation, skin changes, delayed wound healing and susceptibility to infection.”
The outlined information about these brain nutrients is from The Journal of International Medical Research.
Biotics Research Products
Biotics Research provides high quality nutritional supplements for supporting cognitive function: Osteo B II, Zn-Zyme, Bio-C 1000, Bio-B Complex, Phosphatidylserine, Phosphatidylcholine, Optimal EFAs, etc.
Rosemary Essential Oil
The clinical study entitled The psychopharmacology of European herbs with cognition-enhancing properties supports rosemary’s therapeutic value for cognitive function. Ameo provides excellent quality and highly purified essential oils which may be applied topically for their therapeutic value. Although essential oils may not have the same result for each person, rosemary is worth trying when memory improvement is desired.