It’s no overstatement to say that your brain can be considered the “leader” of your entire body. After all, it controls everything that you do, think, feel, see, and hear—both consciously and subconsciously.
Maintaining the health, wellness, and optimal functioning of your brain is essential if you are to remain capable of carrying out the many complex activities of human life in its most evolved state. And the key to this optimal functioning depends on a variety of neurotransmitters and hormones.
In addition to memory and emotions, these brain chemicals are also responsible for stress, blood pressure, pleasure and pain, motivation, learning, attention, muscle movement, energy, thyroid function, reproductive function, sleep, and even your very heartbeat. In other words, virtually every body function you can think of.
While many people realize that the brain performs all of these functions, most of us think of memory and/or comprehensive first and foremost when we think brain health. And, in our darker moments, these thoughts may turn to Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia.
This makes total sense when you consider that more than five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia in the U.S. And while most adults fear the idea of Alzheimer’s, the majority of treatments for the disease center around treatment rather than prevention. Ludicrous, isn’t it?
That’s exactly what researchers from Switzerland thought. Rather than look at ways to treat the disease, they foods at ways to prevent the disease by focusing on maintaining a healthy neural function in an effort to protect against the development of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease.
They found that the essential fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), as well as B vitamins and vitamins C, D, and E all play a role in brain health and work to delay brain aging. This makes perfect sense!
First of all, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, which is known to fight the free radical damage that has been associated with both dementia and Alzheimer’s. Similarly, vitamin E is an antioxidant powerhouse, working to prevent cell damage throughout the body.
To this point, a Johns Hopkins University study examined the use of vitamins C and E in 4,740 patients ages 65 and older. Researchers found that the people who took both vitamins had significantly lower incidence and severity of Alzheimer’s disease compared to the people who took one or neither of the nutrients.
Vitamin D supports brain and nervous system function and correlates with cognitive function and mood. Additionally, there is evidence that low levels of vitamin D are correlated with low mood and poor cognitive performance.
B vitamins are a group of 11 separate water-soluble vitamins that are known to support brain health and boost energy levels. Within this group, vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid appear to be the most beneficial for brain health.
Vitamin B6 is important to a healthy inflammatory response, and one disease in particular that has been associated with inflammation is Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin B6 is also critical for the synthesis of neurotransmitters.
Similarly, vitamin B12 is also important for the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Plus, it helps in DNA synthesis, nervous system health, and brain functioning.
Folic acid is known to prevent neural tube defects in the first eight weeks of pregnancy, and research indicates that folic acid helps with brain health, DNA synthesis, and neurotransmitter function. Additionally, folic acid deficiencies have been associated with depression and dementia.
Lastly, the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is a natural brain booster. Your brain needs DHA to create healthy nerve cell membranes. Your brain uses nerve cells for mood, attention, and memory.
Given all this, it’s no wonder the researchers concluded, “The use of vitamins and DHA for the aging population in general, and for individuals at risk in particular, is a viable alternative approach to delaying brain aging and for protecting against the onset of AD pathology.”
What does this mean for you? Simple. If you aren’t already, immediately start taking a high-quality multinutrient and fish oil supplement that is high in DHA. Your body—and your brain—will thank you.