It’s a control center for your mind and body and it’s health can make or break you. It’s not your heart or liver or kidneys, it’s your brain. Brain health is the strongest indicator of longevity.
Are you feeding it right for maximum health and longevity?
The nutrient content and the quality of your diet matters. What you eat, drink, how much you sleep and exercise, the stress you are under and the toxins you are exposed to all affect your hormones, your brain, your longevity, and the quality of your life. Let’s focus on food for your brain.
Omega 3 Fats
Fats are used to make all the cell membranes in the body. A good quality fat will make great nerve connections whereas a bad quality fat will make low quality nerve connections that have poor function.
Fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine your brain’s integrity and ability to perform.1 Omega-3 fatty acids, are important for brain development as well as optimal function of the eyes. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may improve mental and visual development and brain performance. Pregnant women should assure they are getting enough for their unborn child and that the child has adequate amounts to develop a healthy brain. Most brain development occurs by 5-6 years of age so start early with good, healthy fats.
The best sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring, oysters and anchovies. Other good sources are caviar, flax seed, chia seeds and walnuts. Adding a good quality fish oil may also be helpful.
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine is needed to turn glucose into energy. Your brain runs on glucose, and it needs vitamin B1. Energy production is essential for cognitive performance. It is especially helpful in the elderly.
- Vitamin B9 (folic acid) folic acid affects mood and cognitive function, especially in older people but is important for all ages. Deficiency of folic acid is associated with depression and dementia and affects mood and social function.3 Folate and vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and riboflavin may slow the progression of cognitive decline and reduce depression in ageing.4
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is involved in over 150 biochemical reactions. B6 is necessary for the proper functioning of the entire body and its role cannot be overestimated. It is an antioxidant that stops the development of advanced glycation end products (AGES).5 AGES damage organs and are implicated in neuron degeneration and Alzheimer’s 6 B6, B12 and B9 are essential to lower homocysteine. High homocysteine risk factor for development of cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease in older persons.7
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) may delay the onset of signs of dementia and along with Vitamin B6 is necessary to make neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers for the brain and nervous system. Supplementing B12 in the elderly may improve cognitive function.2
The best food sources of B vitamins are meat, fish, and poultry, legumes, seeds, eggs, dairy products, and leafy greens. You may also want to consider a B complex supplement.
Magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and its deficiency is widespread. 8 Magnesium plays an essential role in nerve transmission and protects against excessive excitation of nerves that can lead to neuronal cell death (excitotoxicity). It can help with migraine and possibly chronic pain, anxiety, and stroke. People with Alzheimer’s were found to have low levels of magnesium. 9
Pumpkin and chia seeds, spinach, almonds, cashews, legumes, fortified grains are good sources of magnesium. Consider a magnesium supplement.
Other foods and supplements that are essential for brain health are choline, Vitamin E, lutein, polyphenols, Vitamins C, D, iron, manganese, copper, and zinc. Do you know if you have enough of these? Micronutrient tests can give you the answer. Apply for a free no obligation clarity call to see if we are a good fit. Keep your brain healthy for a long, healthy life.
- Chang CY, Ke DS, Chen JY. Essential fatty acids and human brain. Acta Neurol Taiwan. 2009;18(4):231-241.
- Bourre JM. Effects of nutrients (in food) on the structure and function of the nervous system: update on dietary requirements for brain. Part 1: micronutrients. J Nutr Health Aging. 2006;10(5):377-385.
- Reynolds EH. Folic acid, ageing, depression, and dementia. BMJ. 2002;324(7352):1512-1515. Accessed February 5, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1123448/
- Moore K, Hughes CF, Ward M, Hoey L, McNulty H. Diet, nutrition and the ageing brain: current evidence and new directions. Proc Nutr Soc. 2018;77(2):152-163. doi:10.1017/S0029665117004177
- Stach K, Stach W, Augoff K. Vitamin B6 in Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2021;13(9):3229. doi:10.3390/nu13093229
- Batkulwar K, Godbole R, Banarjee R, Kassaar O, Williams RJ, Kulkarni MJ. Advanced Glycation End Products Modulate Amyloidogenic APP Processing and Tau Phosphorylation: A Mechanistic Link between Glycation and the Development of Alzheimer’s Disease. ACS Chem Neurosci. 2018;9(5):988-1000. doi:10.1021/acschemneuro.7b00410
- Smith AD, Refsum H, Bottiglieri T, et al. Homocysteine and Dementia: An International Consensus Statement. J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;62(2):561-570. doi:10.3233/JAD-171042
- Schwalfenberg GK, Genuis SJ. The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare. Scientifica (Cairo). 2017;2017:4179326. doi:10.1155/2017/4179326
- Kirkland AE, Sarlo GL, Holton KF. The Role of Magnesium in Neurological Disorders. Nutrients. 2018;10(6):730. doi:10.3390/nu10060730