Clinically Proven Natural Brain Enhancers
Parris M. Kidd, PhD Copyright © Parris M. Kidd, PhD, August 2011
Do you have concerns about aging and memory loss? You don't need to feel helpless because there are nutrients that can slow or stop cognitive decline. Natural Brain Enhancers (NBE) is the term I coined for those nutrients that objectively enhance healthy brain functions in clinical trials. Here are the NBEs that are naturally part of our metabolism and are proven especially safe and effective.
DHA (DocosaHexaenoic Acid, Omega-3) is practically a vitamin since the body is virtually unable to make it from other nutrients. DHA constitutes up to 10 percent of the brain's dry weight. The brain has virtually none of the other omega-3 fatty acids such as ALA (alpha linolenic acid) or EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid); therefore, DHA is its premier omega-3 enhancer.
DHA is crucial for brain and vision development prior to and following birth, and occurs concentrated in the breast milk. In children, young adults, the middle aged, and the elderly, DHA status correlates not just with healthy learning and memory, but also with healthy mood and behavior.
DHA also supports heart and circulatory health, and the many docosanoid messenger molecules derived from DHA help regulate healthy inflammation throughout the body.
PS (PhosphatidylSerine) is the best documented of all the brain nutrients. PS supports healthy memory, learning, mood, and coping with stress. PS is also the only nutrient with two FDA Qualified Health Claims (rare claims that can legally be made regarding the diseases that can be helped by a nutrient) related to its brain-support actions. As with DHA, PS is concentrated in human breast milk.
PS is a universal building block for cell membranes, the thin molecular sheets that make up the outer boundaries of all our cells. PS supports the initiation and propagation of electrical currents in the nerve cells, and across the synaptic junctions that link one nerve cell to another. PS supports nerve growth factor (NGF) to help manage nerve circuit renewal. PS also helps build the mitochondria, which make ATP energy within the cell.
GPC (GlyceroPhosphoCholine) protects brain and body. Like PS, GPC also is concentrated in breast milk and also supports NGF action. GPC benefited attention, memory, and behavior in controlled clinical trials.
GPC is a superior dietary source of choline, a vitamin-like nutrient that contributes to making the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which supports numerous healthy body functions including the growth hormone secretion. GPC reaches very high concentrations inside our cells, and is a rare "osmotic buffer" that helps protect the brain (and entire body) against toxic waste buildup. This unique action helps explain why GPC is so effective for brain protection and circuit maintenance.
Antarctic Krill extract is a natural lipid complex of cell membrane building blocks. Krill's phospholipids deliver DHA and EPA to the brain far better than do the storage triglycerides of fish oil (which completely lacks phospholipids). They also contribute the red carotenoid astaxanthin, a potent cell membrane antioxidant that is also a proven natural brain enhancer. When directly compared in a controlled clinical trial, the krill active lipids markedly outperformed fish oil for supporting healthy mood.
ALC (Acetyl-L-Carnitine) is a premier energy nutrient. It is crucial for the mitochondria to make ATP to fuel cell activity. Clinically, it relieves fatigue and supports healthy nerve cell maintenance around the body. ALC also contributes acetyl groups for acetylcholine and for healthy gene-level DNA regulation. It helps ease discomforts associated with alcohol intake. ALC also supports behavior control in children, healthy mood in adults, and healthy memory in the elderly.
MTHF (5-MethylTetraHydroFolate) is the most metabolically active folate vitamin. MTHF is better absorbed than food folates or the synthetic folic acid, virtually all of which must be converted in the body to MTHF to be metabolically active. Some people are unable to do this conversion and have difficulty with processes such as gene-level regulation. MTHF is absolutely required for brain development, maturation, adaptability ("plasticity"), memory and other cognition, and for healthy mood management.
SAMe (S-Adenosyl Methionine) is a major metabolic activator. It provides energyactivated methyl groups for at least 100 enzymes, and was recently discovered to support another 600-2000 "Radical SAMe" enzymes via its highly activated adenosyl group. SAMe is also a metabolic precursor for the intracellular antioxidant glutathione, a nutrient that is critical to detoxification and numerous other metabolic pathways. Controlled clinical trials indicate SAMe is highly effective for supporting healthy mood and behavior, in addition to it promoting healthy joint and liver function.
Natural brain enhancers have numerous potential applications. They support the brain's healthy adaptability ("plasticity") via numerous cell-level action mechanisms that translate into measurable clinical benefits. Academic researchers are increasingly turning to nutrients for safely boosting healthy brain structure and function. Further objective research into natural brain enhancers is likely to produce widespread improvements in quality of life across the human lifespan.
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