Top brain-saving nutrients stave off old timer’s diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases are some of the scariest diseases out there. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and others — all have a tragic effect on your health and your life.

They’re tragic because they cause your brain to progressively deteriorate as your nerve cells gradually die off. This leads to all sorts of life altering symptoms, like a loss of motor skills and a serious decline in mental functioning.

Clearly, any type of degeneration in your brain (arguably your body’s most important organ) is a very serious situation, which is why prevention should be on the top of your mind.

But even if you’re already dealing with a neurodegenerative disease, recent research conducted by researchers at McMaster University found that a targeted combination of nutritional supplements can not only prevent the loss of brain cells that’s characteristic of neurodegenerative diseases — it can reverse it.

“The findings are dramatic,” says Jennifer Lemon, research associate in McMaster University’s Department of Biology and a lead author of the study. “Our hope is that this supplement could offset some very serious illnesses and ultimately improve quality of life.”

Brains of mice and men

McMaster University researchers have been studying the effects of nutritional supplements on the brain for over 15 years, and they have even formulated their own nutritional formula specifically designed to slow the aging of the brain.

So far, the results of their studies have been impressive. In previous studies, they were able to use their nutritional formula to prevent age-related cognitive decline and improve longevity in mice.

In their most recent study, researchers studied mice who had lost nearly half of their brain cells — essentially mice with a neurological situation similar to what occurs in Alzheimer’s disease. They fed these mice their specially designed supplement for several months, and they found that it eliminated brain cell loss entirely and stopped cognitive decline.

“The research suggests that there is tremendous potential with this supplement to help people who are suffering from some catastrophic neurological diseases,” says Lemon, who conducted the work with co-author Vadim Aksenov, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at McMaster.

Researchers also added that, even though all of their studies focused on mice, when it comes to neurodegeneration, the mechanisms are pretty much the same in both mice and humans.

In other words, if it works for mice it should work for us…which means these supplements are worth a shot if you want to preserve your brain cells and neurological health.

The formula developed by McMaster University researchers contains a whopping 30 vitamins and minerals, including these brain-boosting powerhouses:

  • Cod liver oil– Since it contains DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid, cod liver oil is a serious boon to your brain health. In case, you didn’t know, your brain is essentially made of omega 3 fats, including DHA. So by upping your DHA intake, you’re giving your brain the nutrients in needs to stay healthy and heal itself if any damage occurs.
  • Green tea extract- Scientific studies have shown that green tea extract enhances cognitive performance and boosts memory. This is likely due to green tea’s high antioxidant content and its ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in your brain.
  • Folic Acid- Also known as B9, folic acid is absolutely imperative if you want your brain to function correctly. In fact, research has shown that folic acid deficiency is linked to Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. There have even been cases where neurological disorders where caused solely by a severe folic acid deficiency and were completely reversible through supplement therapy.
  • Vitamins B, C and D– Besides vitamin B9, your brain also needs other B vitamins, like B12 and B6, to stay healthy. Research has shown that B vitamins can reduce brain shrinkage by up to 90 percent by suppressing the amino acid homocysteine, which has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s, among other diseases. Vitamin C is also a crucial antioxidant in the brain and contributes to innumerable neurological processes, including those related to learning, memory and locomotion. And then there’s vitamin D. Lower levels of vitamin D have been linked to cognitive impairment, and higher levels have been linked to a lower risk of neurological disease.

So if you stick to a steadfast nutritional regimen that includes all of these crucial components, degeneration will be the last thing on your mind or in your brain.

Sources:
  1. A. Lemon, V. Aksenov, R. Samigullina, S. Aksenov, W.H. Rodgers, C.D. Rollo, D.R. Boreham. “A multi-ingredient dietary supplement abolishes large-scale brain cell loss, improves sensory function, and prevents neuronal atrophy in aging mice.” Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis. May 2016.
  2. A. Lemon, D.R. Boreham and C.D. Rollo. “A Complex Dietary Supplement Extends Longevity of Mice.” The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. (2005) 60 (3): 275-279.
  3. Schmidt, F. Hammann, B. Wölnerhanssen, A. Christin Meyer-Gerspach, J. Drewe, C. Beglinger, S. Borgwardt. “Green tea extract enhances parieto-frontal connectivity during working memory processing.” Psychopharmacology, 2014.
  4. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids.” The University of Maryland Medical Center. http://umm.edu. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
  5. H. Reynolds. “Folic acid, ageing, depression, and dementia.” BMJ. 2002 Jun 22; 324(7352): 1512–1515.
  6. E. Harrison and J.M. May. “Vitamin C Function in the Brain: Vital Role of the Ascorbate Transporter (SVCT2).” Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 2009 Mar 15; 46(6): 719–730.
  7. “Cognitive Impairment.” Vitamin D Council. https://www.vitamindcouncil.org. Retrieved June 2, 2016.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.