Author: Jordan K. David, M.D.
Excerpt From: The Brainpower Plan
In addition to the vitamin and minerals I have put together for your brain health, there are special memory boosters I recommend to many of the patients I see in my office. You may think of these as supplementing your supplements. I call them special mind boosters, but they are actually super-energizers for the brain cells, and they enable people to formulate their thoughts faster over a longer period of time. While I don’t believe that aging is always associated with a diminished thinking process – I know eighty-year-olds who possess a greater intellect and mental acuity than many lackluster college students – it is true that, as people age, energy production in the brain declines, and this can lead to a mental fatigue commonly known as brain fog. Plus, there is an attenuation of concentration, learning, and memory, and this age-related decline or mental cognitive impairment occurs as a result of diminishing neurons. By taking these mind-energizers or super antioxidants you can restore optimum function and vitality to your brain.
As people grow older, to forty-five or fifty years, the brain’s energy production requires every possible boost from super nutrients. Energy is crucial to every cell in the body, but neurons require even more attention. Older is not always better, and a diminishing cellular function will contribute to age-related decline and brain fog. The major nutrients I have chosen here are important for energy production and mental clarity.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin or Cyanocobalamin)
Of all the B vitamins, B12 is the most important for brain functioning, memory retention, and the production of myelin (nerve sheath), which protects the covering of neurofibers. The latest research indicates that individuals who have H. pylori stomach disease (a bacterial infection in the stomach associated with chronic ulcers and atrophy as well as chronic gastritis) can have a deficiency of B12. When this stomach disease is eradicated, it eliminates the B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is required for normal nerve-cell activity and DNA replication. Many studies show that older people have a B12 deficiency, and may develop neuropsychiatric problems, including disorientation and confusion, which are often secondary effects of their inability to absorb B12 due to gastric atrophy. A deficiency of B12 can also lead to elevated homocysteine levels.
This is an extract of the periwinkle plant. It is an herb that has proven effective for people with strokes. Vinpocetine:
- Blocks calcium from overpowering the damaged cells.
- Dilates blood vessels.
- Has blood-thinning potential.
- Is a cognitive enhancer.
- Speeds up the use of glucose and oxygen in the brain.
GPC is present in all cells of the body and tissues. Although the body produces GPC, the excessive demand for it in today’s information age creates a need for more production or supplementation. GPC is a major source of choline, an essential nutrient important for renewal and repair. Choline is utilized in the production of acetylcholine, a major neurotransmitter. GPC is the active choline for the brain, since it raises the brain’s choline level to support the production of ACH when a major demand for it occurs in the brain. Scientific studies have suggested an increased mental performance following supplementation with alpha-glycerophosophocholine – electroencephalographic (EEG) studies reveal improvement in electrical patterns in middle-aged and young healthy brains. GPC has been used in studies on stroke recovery and postheart surgery, as well as vascular dementia, and has demonstrated an ability to improve cognition and mood.
While phosphatidylserine (PS) contains the amino acid serine, choline in PC is a precursor of acetylcholine, which is the brain’s most important neurotransmitter. During pregnancy, choline is necessary in utero. When the fetus has an insufficient amount, poor brain development occurs. The B-complex vitamins that contain choline provide the brain with the ability to manufacture phosphatidylcholine and acetylcholine. Both are purified extracts from lecithin and are beneficial in depression, memory loss, and liver health. PC is responsible for maintaining the cell membrane. Phosphatidylcholine:
- May help assuage the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Provides normal brain development to the fetus.
This is the major phospholipid in the brain. Along with other phospholipids, it forms the basic structural component of cell membranes. It regulates the cell contents and has a role in providing the surface for receptors and enzymes. PS enhances cell-to-cell communication and the transfer of biochemical messages into brain cells. Phosphatidlyserine:
- Augments cognitive skills.
- Eases the learning process.
- Improves concentration.
- Protects cells from damage by free radicals.
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
The human brain is made up of 60 percent fat. Myelin, which is 75 percent fat, surrounds the axons, or fibers, of nerve cells and is involved in the speed of neural transmission. Fluctuations in fatty acids occur all through life and have a profound effect on the brain, particularly areas involving behaviar, cognition, mood, and the sensation of having fluid movements (as in dancing).
As reported by Michael A. Schmidt in his book Smart Fats, adults with a low level of DHA have a greater potential to develop dementia in their senior years. Low levels are also considered an important risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
This chemical, produced naturally in the human brain, is used as a supplement to convert choline into the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It has been beneficial in slowing age-related cognitive decline. DMAE:
- Diminishes the effects of attention-deficit disorder (ADD) in children and adults.
- Elevates mood.
- Enhances memory.
- Improves focus and alertness in young-people.
- Promotes clarity of thought.
- Repairs damaged cell membranes.
- Reverses aging spots in the brain.