Did you know that for every time that you’ve burned midnight candles, you are also burning out brain cells? A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that lack of sleep resulted in the destruction on brain cells in mice, and may also be the same for humans. It explained further that this effect can be irreversible.
This can result in forgetfulness, disrupted sleep patterns, and the possibility of cognitive degenerative diseases like dementia.
To prevent the negative effects of sleepless nights, it is important not to overlook the importance of nutrition. It is a fact that our brains consume a significant amount of energy in proportion to the needs of the body. The transfer of energy from the food we eat to neurons are fundamental in controlling brain function, so in the same vein, diet is definitely something we should nail down. Research even show that metabolic disorders affect cognitive processes, therefore what we eat has a direct correlation with brain health.
If you want to promote better cognitive function through your diet, here are the nutrients you should be banking on.
DHA (docosahexanoic acid) is an essential nutrient to the growth and functional development of the brain. Furthermore, it is also important for the maintenance of normal brain function and learning ability. On one hand, a decrease in DHA is associated with cognitive decline as one ages.
Incorporating DHA through your diet or supplement, allows you to restore the building block of the brain and nerve cells, particularly enriching the cerebral cortex which is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory, creativity, language, attention and emotion. It also facilitates neurotransmitter activity which allows the brain to optimize your “feel good” hormones like dopamine and serotonin.
The major sources for DHA is present in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna. It is also available in low levels in meat and eggs. However, one can get the recommended dietary allowance through formula milk (for babies) and supplements. With
This nutrient is popular dietary supplement that can help improve energy levels and brain metabolism. Compared to l-carnitine, which is an amino acid, acetyl l-carnitine is fat soluble and highly active in the nerves. It provides protection from stress and damage from toxins.
Acetyl l-carnitine acts by helping the brain metabolize fat and cholesterol so the extra lipids doesn’t build up and clog your brain’s ability to function. It’s like your body’s cleaning lady against beta-amyloid plaques – the culprit for cognitive degeneration. The nutrient prevents the toxin from interfering brain cell energy production, and with that, you keep your brain sharp and quick even as you age.
Folate or Folic Acid
Healthy levels of folate is important for brain function, which is part of the B-complex family. Due to its water-soluble nature, it means that the body does not have it in storage. Hence, it is important that you replenish your stores through your diet.
So why is it crucial for brain function?
Folate helps in the production of DNA and RNA, the genetic material in your body. It also plays an important role in red blood cell production and the proper function of iron in the body. But when it comes to brain health, it is an important nutrient for the proper functioning of the nervous system at all ages. A deficiency would result in irritability, forgetfulness, depression, and mental sluggishness.
Dietary sources include whole grains, dark leafy greens, beets, beef liver and milk. Some cereals today are even fortified with folic acid. Folic acid on the other hand is the synthetic form of folate and it is found in supplements and fortified foods. A randomized clinical trial showed that a 3-year folic acid supplementation can help reduce age-related decline in cognitive function.
Also known as alpha tocopherol, this antioxidant can result in poor memory performance in older individuals under low serum levels. What vitamin E does is that it slows down further deterioration of memory loss and eventual functional decline in individuals who have moderately severe Alzheimer’s. There is also evidence that vitamin E is associated with brain protection. In a study, researchers noticed that animals who have not been fed with vitamin E for nine months experienced a reduction in DHA levels for up to 30%.
As mentioned earlier, DHA is the building block of the brain, and vitamin E is an important component to make that happen. So in a way, it works synergistically with DHA to prevent degenerative conditions from occurring. Combined with vitamin C, these two can have potent antioxidant power to protect your brain from memory loss. Food sources include, seeds, nuts, olive oil, and green leafy vegetables. For your supplement, it is important to look for d-alpha tocopherol instead of the “dl” form as the latter is the synthetic kind.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
This is a potent antioxidant found in every cell and it turns glucose into energy. It fights off the oxidative stress just like vitamins C and E would. Some antioxidants can be dissolved in either water or oil, but not both. This nature makes ALA different because it can be dissolved in both making it a powerful antioxidant. Furthermore, evidence also suggest that alpha lipoic acid can help regenerate other antioxidants to make them active again.
One defining factor about this nutrient is that it also has the ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. High doses provided by supplements promote nerve cell regeneration which is very beneficial for treating Alzheimer’s disease.
Along with Acetyl L-Carnitine, the pair is considered a dynamic duo of anitoxidants which also shields your brain cells from degradation. This is the protection you need every decade. So if you want your cognitive function to be at its peak, this is an ingredient you should be looking for in a brain-enhancing supplement.
Invest in nourishing your brain and learn how you can be sharp even as you age. It takes the right dietary supplementation to enhance brain function and health. Visit Best Multivitamin Guide for the products you need to fill in the gaps.
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