Do you ever wish you had a bit more brain power? Whether it’s for working more effectively, juggling the eternal to do list or just helping to remember names, places or where the heck you put stuff. The busier we are the more tired we get and the more we need our brain to work more efficiently. You may have found that as you age your brain is not as sharp as it used to be and you would like to keep it working at its best.
Well, for all of you who would like to sharpen up your thinking and protect you brain from the rigours of age, here are some key nutrients that can help.
This is a nutrient needed by our brain cells to protect and repair their outer walls, which are made of a double layer of fats known as phospholipids. Cell walls are under constant attack from free radicals produced during energy production, from stress and environmental toxins such as smoking, sprays, alcohol and fumes, the list goes on. Aging also leads to greater oxidation so our ability to keep up with brain repairs declines.
The cell walls are important as they allow nutrients to be transported into the brain cells for mental energy and they conduct the electrical impulses for cell signalling for thinking, memory and general speed of communications within the brain. Increasing citicoline can help prevent damage, to keep our brain communication running at its best and help prevent damage from ageing. Citicoline also feeds the mitochondria, the mini-organs in our cells that act as energy generators to power the brain.
Coenzyme Q10 (Co Q10)
This nutrient can be produced in the body and is also used by the mitochondria for energy production in the brain and all cells of the body. Co Q10 is an essential ingredient needed to power the chemical processes that take place inside the mitochondria that make energy to power the brain, so it can carry out everyday functions. It is also a fat soluble antioxidant, which means it also protects the mitochondria from damage whilst they make energy and it also helps to protect the fatty layers of the brain cells from damage. Therefore taking extra Co Q10 can facilitate extra mental energy and help prevent oxidative damage to the brain itself. This is the likely mechanism of action which has led to studies showing Co Q10 to be of benefit to help protect against neurodegenerative conditions.
It is important to note that production of Co Q10 declines as we age. Even more importantly production of the essential antioxidant and energy nutrient is blocked by cholesterol medications that many people are taking. Ironic when it is so important for brain and heart health. So those people taking cholesterol medications should consider Co Q10 supplementation.
Omega 3 Oils
When your mother told you that eating fish would give you brains she was right. The brain is approximately 60% fat and like a car the brain benefits from an oil change every now and again. The omega oils help to build the neuronal networks that send messages round the brain, and again like Co Q10 and Citicoline, provide antioxidant protection against oxidative damage. Good levels of omega oil have been shown to enhance memory recall and the acquisition of new information. It can also help with improved attention, cognitive performance and again has links to support against degenerative disease.
So when we are looking to provide fuel and protection for an optimally working brain, increasing levels of the above nutrients will certainly be beneficial. It is also important to eat lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and other antioxidants to help prevent damage. Having plant oils unheated in salads will help increase omega 3 oils, along with weekly consumption of fish or seafood. Conversely we also want to avoid fats damaged by heat, too much sugar and exposure to environmental pollutants, drugs, alcohol, toxins and stress.
By Jane Cronin
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