Besides diet and lifestyle there are a variety of brain power supplements that you can use to protect your mental faculties from the aging process.
We list out 12 of these brain boosting supplements that you can take in addition to your normal diet :
Co-enzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone) is a fat-soluble vitamin and is found small quantities in food and in every cell membrane in the human body. By middle age, research shows you could be seriously deficient in CoQ1O.
CoQ1O is found in highest amounts in your mitochondria, i.e. the ‘energy producing factory. Basically, it provides the ‘spark’ each cell needs to initiate energy. Without enough CoQ10 in your body, you will run out out of energy. This property strengthens our heart’s contraction and it helps to increase blood flow thus getting more oxygen and nutrients to our brain cells. This important function helps boost our mental function and slow down the aging process of the brain.
Besides being good for our brain, CoQ1O is also known to be an extremely powerful antioxidant. Energy production in the mitochondria produces free radicals. Well known CoQ1O researcher, Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D. says that “CoQ10 is one of the most potent free radical hunter I’ve ever found.”
It is recommended to begin a CoQ1O supplement program between the age of30 and 50. At age 30 many people have lost about 25 percent of their blood level of CoQ1O. The usual dosage is 100 to 250mg daily.
Phosphatidylserine, said to be the “ginkgo for the millennium”, one of the most abundant phospholipids in the brain, is a component of membrane that surrounds and protect brain cells from free radicals by helping to keep the cell membrane fluid and fatty substance soluble. The breakdown of these membranes prevents glucose and other nutrients from entering your brain cells. By protecting the health of your cell membranes, phosphatidylserine facilitates the efficient transport of energy-producing nutrients into your cells. However, research has shown that as we age phosphatidylserine declines in our body, thus negatively affecting mental functions such as memory, learning and mental alertness.
Phosphatidylserine also plays a role in activating the production of two important memory booster neurotransmitters namely acetylcholine which helps with memory and dopamine that is primarily responsible for sex drive , mood, alertness and movement.
Phosphatidylserine blocks the erosion of dendrite connection from being destroyed by aging. Most important of all it helps increase the number of neurotransmitter receptor sites (connections) on each cell and as a result, this helps speed up nerve impulses.
Phosphatidylserine can prevent damages to your brain from excessive cortisol production as a result of physical or emotional stress. High levels ofcortisol affect the health of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for sorting and storing short-term and long-term memories.
There are more than 20 over excellent double blind clinical trials supporting the use of Phosphatidylserine to reverse aged-related memory loss.
According to Elizabeth Somer M.A., R.D. (is a registered dietitian well-versed in nutrition research and author of several books such as Eat Your Way to Sexy, Age-Proof Your Body, Food & Mood, The Food & Mood Cookbook and The Origin Diet) in her book ‘Food and Mood’, she mentioned that “Phosphatidylserine supplements restock brain cell membranes, boosting nerve chemical activity such as dopamine and serotonin, stimulating nerve cell growth, lowering levels of the stress hormones, possibly generating new connections between ceHs, and stirring activity in all brain centers, especially higher brain centers such as the cortex hypothalamus and pituitary gland”.
The renowned leading expert in cell biology and nutrition, Dr. Parris M Kidd, Chief Sciene Officer Of BrainMD has this to say about Phosphatidylserine : “It is not a scientific exaggeration to conclude from the extensive research on Phosphatidylserine that it benefits virtually every function that can be tested. It is the single best means for conserving memory and other brain functions”.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2003 acknowledged that phosphatidylserine helps improve brainpower and prevent mental decline:
As for dosage, Dr. Thomas H. Crook (a clinical psychologist with 30 plus years experience with adult-onset cognitive disorders) in his book, ‘Memory Cure’, recommends one to begin with 200 to 300mg daily for 30days, with a dose of 100mg 2 or 3 times per day. After this period, a daily 100mg maintenance level should be adequate.
Phospholipids are lipids, which are the fundamental building block of cellular membranes.
Phospholipids play several roles in the brain, and some of it includes determining movement of minerals, nutirents and drugs that go in and out of the cell and it is critical to memory, learning and mental alertness.
Phosphatidylcholine is an excellent source of choline to the brain where it is used to make acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that influences concentration and memory. Experts say that sustaining the level of these nerve chemicals in the brain can potentially improve all mental processes.
Note that there have been few side effects reported with the use of phosphatidylcholine supplements other than gastrointestinal upset when large doses are used.
For neurological conditions doses as high as 5 to 10g taken 3 times a day have been used in research studies.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine or ALC, a well-researched brain nutrient, is a naturally occurring amino acid found in the brain, kidneys, and liver. ALC contributes to the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a major neurotransmitter needed for memory, mental focus and learning.
ALC enhances energy production by promoting the transport of fatty acids into the energy-producing units of the cells. Cellular energy production itself produces free radicals that can harm cell structures especially in your mitochondria. ALC can help protect the energy cells in the mitochondria and the cell membrane from free radical attack.
Two other imporfant properties of ALC worth mentioning here is its ability to repair the brain brought on by stress and poor nurition as well as protect the receptors (connections) on brain cells that normally occurs with aging. This can help you enhance short-term and long-term memory.
Robert Crayton writing in the International Journal of Integrative Medicine, has this to say of ALC : “one of the most extensively researched nutrient is ALC. ALC has demonstrated the ability to slow or even reverse many signs of brain aging in controlled human trial, suggesting it may have the ability to slow the very process of aging.”
For appropriate dosage, most studies suggest the use of 250mg ALC daily and if you are experiencing mild to severe memory loss caused by aging, 500mg of ALC, 3 times a day is recommended.
Ginkgo Biloba’s most noted action is increasing blood supply and oxygen to the brain, an anti-aging trait. With increased blood supply of blood to the brain vital nutrients, hormones, enzymes and oxygen flow to our brain cells. Reduced function or even death of cells comes from lack of proper oxygen and nutrition. Secondly, toxic waste products are more quickly and efficiently removed. The slow flow and removal of toxic wastes from these vital areas actually poison delicate brain cells.
Ginkgo Biloba’s other imporfant property is that it can ‘thin’ the blood. By thinning the blood, ginkgo biloba may protect your brain from a stroke (i.e. heart attack of the brain). Stroke can be triggered by a blocked artery or a blood clot that has broken away from an artery wall in your brain.
The highly respected British Journal published a summary of 10 well-conducted, controlled trials in 1922 which linked ginkgo biloba to improved blood supply to the brain. The article concluded that an improved blood supply to the brain had positive effect on 12 symptoms namely :
The Commission E, which is the German agency that is one of the world authority on herbal remedies, says that ginkgo biloba can relieve the symptoms of foggy memory, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, depression and ringing in the ears. In fact, ginkgo biloba is licensed in Germany for the treatment of age-related cognitive decline.
Ginkgo biloba’s antioxidant property can protect your brain cells from free radical damage which causes the aging of the brain. This allows
more oxygen to reach your neurons and tiny blood vessels.
However, before rushing out your nearest pharmacies to get your dose of ginkgo biloba, make sure it is made from standardised extract containing 24% of Flavone Glycosides and 5% Terpene Lactones as these two components are believed to be ginkgo biloba’s main pharmacological agent.
For short-term memory loss associated with age, most studies recommend a dosage of 120mg daily, divided into 3 equal doses of 40mg of ginkgo extract.
A word of caution though, since ginkgo biloba is a blood thinner, one should should exercise extreme caution when combining consumption of ginkgo biloba with an anticoagulant.
More than 60% of the weight of the brain is fat of which Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) constitutes as much as 30% to 50% of the total fatty acid content of the human brain and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) makes up the other content but is found in low concentration in the brain (though necessary for improved blood flow and decrease inflammation).
It is also interesting to note that Omega-3 fatty acids (such as DHA and EPA) are essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body and as such, have to be obtained either from food or from food supplements.
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)is concentrated in the mitochondria of the brain cell that is the centre of cellular energy production and in the synapses. DHA keeps the membranes surrounding each synapse, the communication gap between two nerve cells – in a more fluid state. This helps nerve cells release chemicals into the gap more quickly. Brain cells whose membranes are rich in DHA therefore seem to communicate more quickly and clearly with each other.
“If you don’t feed brain cell membranes enough of the right type of fat, the messages can be short-circuited and garbled. That may mean a disturbance in your mood, concentration, memory, attention and behavior. It appears that fish is truly ‘brain food’.” says Dr. Norman Salem at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. Dosages of 500mg a day would be in the preventive category.
One imporfant property of vitamin C is that it can help Vitamin E from being lost through oxidation by restoring Vitamin E back to its original antioxidant state.
lts levels in the brain are almost 15 times higher than in any other body tissues. Vitamin C protects your DNA and other celular components from free radicals. Unlike vitamin E, Vitamin C works in the watery part of our brain cells.
Researchers at the University of Trier in Germany found that patients receiving one gram 3 times a day of vitamin C enjoyed markedly lower blood pressure and cortisol levels.
A 2001 University of Pretoria study found that 500mg of vitmain C taken twice a day reduced serum cortisol levels by over 30%!
As for dosage, vitamin C is safe at 5000 to 10000mg daily for most of us. For antioxidant protection purpose, normally most people will take 1000 to 6000mg daily. As vitamin C is water soluble, it is advisable to take no more than 1000mg at a time.
As a brain protector, selenium certainly ranks highly. Your brain consists of about 60 percent fat and selenium can help prevent the oxidation of fats in the brain especially from free radicals.
You need to supplement your diet as selenium drops as we age. Also, it is best taken with vitamin E as they work in synergy.
An optimum dosage is 50 to 100 micrograms (mcg) daily.
Simialr to selenium, zinc level drops as you age. Research shows a deficiency in zinc can impair your memory function. It also possesses antioxidant properties to protect your cells membrane and its components from being damaged by free radicals.
The recommended dosage for brain longevity is approximately 30 to 50mg daily.
Magnesium may help maintain learning and memory in middle age and beyond according to a study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (December 2nd issue of Neuron). This finding indicates that any deficiency in magnesium may reduce your ability to learn and memorise while an abundance of magnesium can improve cognitive function.
The same study also suggested that magnesium is essential for maintaining the health of synapses (the connection among brain cells) which is vital to the brain’s ability to learn and remember.
Besides this, magnesium is an antioxidant that can neutralise free radicals and help improve blood circulation to the brain.
The adult daily requirement for magnesium is about 400mg daily.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant. As an antioxidant it can protect your cell membrane and your ‘energy factory’ of your brain cells, your red blood cells and capillaries that deliver oxygen to your brain cells from being damaged by free radicals.
Vitamin E is extremely helpful for reducing the stickiness of platelets and improving blood flow. Numerous studies have shown that vitamin E can decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke.
A study, released by the World Alzheimer’s Congress 2000 in Washington, of more than 6,000 people ages 65 and older confirmed that a high intake of vitamin E from foods or dietary supplements was associated with reduced memory loss and other cognitive decline. The same study showed that those with the highest intake of vitamin E experienced the least cognitive decline over the course of a three- year period.
A Cornell University medical publication documentated long-term health study which show that both vitamin E and vitamin C supplements have a significant protective effect against memory problems and loss of mental alertness.
The daily recommended dosage is from 400 to 800 IU daily.
Vitamin B6, B12, Folic Acid along with choline are absolutely essential for the health of one’s memory.
Studies suggest that raised levels of the amino acid homocysteine are associated with reduced brain performance. A further 39 over studies support that homocysteine can increase one’s risk of stroke in the large vessels, small strokes in the brain, impede blood flow to critical areas of the brain and whopping 50% increase in the risk of a heart attack.
How is this related homocysteine to Vitamin B? Well, taking 800 micrograms(mcg) of folic acid, 400 micrograms of vitamin B12 and 10mg of vitamin B6 each day can convert homocysteine into a harmless substance.
Because of the important role of each of the B vitamins in brain functions, it makes sense that they should all be consumed as a group instead of taking large amounts of one or two types of vitmain Bs. As a general guideline, it would be reasonable to take a B complex supplement providing least 1 to 3 times the Daily Value (DV) for these vitamins.