Some people believe that cognitive decline is an inevitable part of aging, but people stay sharp well into their golden years with the correct dietary supplements. Studies show that nourishment directly affects brain performance, and brain decline can be delayed, or even reversed with the consumption of natural supplements for brain health. Discover five supplements that help support a sharp and healthy brain.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), promote good brain health. In a study published in Neurology, researchers examined 1,575 people with an average age of 67 who were free of dementia. Subjects underwent tests for omega-3 blood levels and mental function and had MRI brain scans. Researchers found that subjects with lower levels of DHA showed lower brain volume than subjects with higher levels of DHA, and they scored lower on tests for abstract thinking, processing, and visual memory. Fish oil supplements make a great daily source of omega-3 fats.
According to an animal study published in Biogerontology, the natural pigment that gives the spice turmeric its golden color may help improve cognition. During the course of the study, old female lab rats were given either curcumin or corn oil daily. Animals were then given behavioral (maze) tests and were tested for blood levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), a marker for oxidative stress. Results showed that rats receiving curcumin performed better on behavioral tests and showed less MDA in the blood.
The chemical compound phosphatidylserine (PS) is found in many parts of the body, but the highest concentrations exist in the brain. One of the most heavily-researched natural supplements for brain health, PS has been found to promote healthy memory and cognitive function. One study tracked 51 people from 55-75 years of age over a 12-week period giving half of the subjects 300 mg of PS daily and the other half a placebo. Subjects who took PS were better able to remember names and details of the previous day or past weeks and had an easier time locating misplaced objects.
Derived from vincamine, an alkaloid found in the periwinkle plant, vinpocetine is said to help dilate blood vessels and improve brain function. Early research suggests that vinpocetine may improve symptoms of a number of conditions including age-related memory problems, Alzheimer's disease, clinical depression, and vascular dementia. People with low blood pressure, bleeding or seizure disorders, or liver or kidney damage should not take vinpocetine.
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Derived from the plant Chinese club moss, huperzine A is an alkaloid that blocks cholinesterase, a compound that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Because acetylcholine helps promote learning, memory, and other brain functions, taking a supplement that fosters its production naturally boosts brain health.
Many people worry about declining cognitive function as they age. Fortunately, natural supplements for brain health help slow age-related cognitive decline. Omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, phosphatidylserine, vinpocetine, and huperzine A possess chemicals and compounds that promote varying brain functions, from abstract thinking to learning to memory. To avoid possible complications or interactions, people should consult with a health care practitioner before beginning a supplementary regimen.