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brain nutrients

  • Dear Readers,

    Welcome to a new decade and the February 2020 issue of TotalHealth Magazine.

    Own Your Anxiety by Julian Brass is featured in this month’s Media Review.

    Charles K. Bens, PhD, gives us a simple brain health survey to take in his article, Rebuild Your Brain With Super Nutrients. If you have difficulty sleeping, staying focused, and are forgetting things, you will want to read what these super nutrients can do for you or someone you know.

    Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, brings us the next segment of Smart Recipes. This month she provides us dinner and snack recipes. The Walnut Crisps are the perfect snack to compliment everything from mid-afternoon munchies, to an office party treat. Try them with your favorite dips.

    Carmen V. Russoniello, PhD., LPC, LRT/CTRS, BCB, BCN, Professor and Director, Center for Applied Psychophysiology, East Carolina University, provides us with a report on how a company can assess employees stress levels. Assessments and there results can show you how to improve the company’s bottom line and employees’ performance. Listed are definitions for what a body health report includes.

    Herb-Infused Roasted Radishes? Gloria Gilbère, CDP, DAHom, PhD, shows us a new way to enjoy this summer vegetable. You’ll want to try these instead of potatoes at your next dinner party. They are a healthy veggie with the anti-inflammatory advantage.

    This month Shawn Messonnier, DVM, brings us part 2 in his series on Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Pets. He provides natural recipes for dogs and cats that can help curb their numerous symptoms.

    Thank you to our authors, readers and advertisers for making TotalHealth Online possible.

    Wishing you a Happy February and Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at TotalHealth.

    Best in health.

    TWIP—The Wellness Imperative People

    Click here to read the full February 2020 issue.

    Click here to read the full February 2020 issue.

  • People often ask me, "What are the best things I can do to improve cognitive function?"

    So here's how to get started.
    The key point to realize is that our brain is like our body's motor. It consumes 10 times as much energy for its size as the rest of our body. So what we feed it determines whether it purrs like a Ferrari, or runs in fits and starts, leaving us with "brain farts" through the day.

    So what are the key fuels that our brain needs, as they relate to diet?

    1. Eggs. One of the key memory molecules is called acetylcholine. To make this, our body requires that we take in about 500 mg of choline daily. Interestingly, when a woman does not have enough estrogen, as occurs during perimenopause and menopause, they are more likely to develop memory problems when they don't get enough choline. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/92/5/1113.full. This can be aggravated by certain genetic defects and can be a major player in cognitive dysfunction. The solution? Simply eat one or two eggs a day. Each egg supplies 680 mg of choline. Be sure to eat the egg yolk, as this is the part that has the choline. More good news? Numerous studies have now shown that eating eggs does not increase cholesterol or increase risk of heart disease. In fact, eggs have been shown to be a very healthy food.
    2. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, sardines or mackerel. Most of our brain is made of the omega-3 oils found in fish.
    3. B vitamins and magnesium. These are the key nutrients needed to make energy. They can be found in whole unprocessed foods. For example almonds are a good source of magnesium, and you want your fresh veggies for the B vitamins.
    4. Up to two cups a day of coffee and tea, along with up to an ounce of chocolate daily also can have wonderful benefits for mental clarity.

    For the neurotransmitters, the choline for acetylcholine and to a lesser degree tyrosine to make dopamine would be most important for memory.

    It is especially important give the body the basic raw materials that it normally needs.

    In terms of supplements, the key items that I would recommend (and personally take myself ) are:

    1. Omega 3's—as upwards of 90 percent of the oils in most fish oil products are not Omega 3's, and are more likely to be toxic than helpful, I take one of Vectomega (EuroPharma) daily. This replaces seven large fish oil pills giving optimal support with one small pill.
    2. Energy Revitalization System (Enzymatic Therapy) vitamin powder. This supplies optimal levels of B vitamins, magnesium, amino acids (approximately 950 mg of tyrosine) and other nutrients needed to optimize brain function (including choline) in one low cost simple drink daily.
    3. I add one scoop (5 g) of SHINE ribose powder to the vitamin powder. For the first six weeks, I recommend taking it three times daily. Then it can often be dropped to 1–2 times a day. In our published study, ribose dramatically improved cognitive function in people with fibromyalgia by an average of 30 percent.
    4. I also add CuraMed 750 milligrams once daily for its overall brain and immune system benefits. So basically, for supplements the one Energy Revitalization System (Add a 5g scoop of SHINE Ribose) drink a day and one Vectomega is the best 30 seconds people can spend all day to optimize cognitive function.

    Cognitive Function Intensive Care
    For those with CFS and fibromyalgia, once the above aspects are addressed, the next step is to use the SHINE Protocol to optimize sleep, thyroid and adrenal function and orthostatic intolerance, as well as candida and other infections. The free Energy Analysis Program at www.vitality101.com can tailor the SHINE Protocol to your specific case with a simple 10-minute quiz. It can even assess pertinent lab tests if you have them available.

    Love and blessings,
    Dr. T

  • As we age our brain begins to shrink and lose its ability to make the neurotransmitters necessary for optimal mental function. The symptoms of this gradual decline vary from one person to another, but can include any of the following:

    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Difficulty staying focused
    • Forgetting where things are
    • Unexplained changes in mood
    • Reduced ability to multi task
    • Difficulty remembering recent events or people’s names

    These initial signs of mental challenge may be dismissed as part of the “normal aging process.” But I can assure you they are not a satisfactory explanation for what is happening. These are the symptoms of a brain that has not been properly fed over many years. In fact, these may be the early signs of more serious mental challenges such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. If you do begin to experience any of these symptoms it may be very helpful to ask your doctor for a special blood panel to determine if you are starting to show any signs of biochemical changes caused by nutritional deficiencies.

    Here is an assessment tool to determine if this biochemical deterioration is beginning.

    Brain Health Survey

    Yes or no

    1. ____ Do you run out of energy in the middle of the morning or afternoon or the evening on a regular basis?
    2. ____ Do you awaken un-refreshed or needing something to get you going in the morning like coffee, tea or a cigarette?
    3. ____ Do you get less than eight hours of sleep on many occasions?
    4. ____ Do you lose concentration or forget things more often than you would like to?
    5. ____ Do you become stressed too easily and more often than you would like to?
    6. ____ Do you experience apprehension or even fear when facing a new or unusual challenge?
    7. ____ Do you exercise less frequently than you think you should?
    8. ____ Do you eat more fast food or processed food than you probably should?
    9. ____ Do you use alcohol or tobacco products every day?
    10. ____ Do you currently take prescription medication of any kind?
    11. ____ Is there a history of mental challenge in your family such as dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease?
    12. ____ Do you frequently use electronic equipment such as cell phones, portable phones, computers etc.?
    13. ____ Do you have fewer supportive and trustworthy friends, colleagues and family members than you would like to have?
    14. ____ Did you have a childhood that had more trauma and difficulty than you would have liked?
    15. ____ Do you have less balance in your life than you should? (work, family, play etc.)
    16. ____ Do you consume more sweets and sugar dense products than you should? (soft drinks, donuts, candy bars, desserts) More than one a day is too many.
    17. ____ Do you often feel that you lack sufficient confidence or self-esteem?
    18. ____ Do experience mood swings on a fairly regular basis? Almost daily.
    19. ____ Do you consume less brain healthy foods than you should? Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs and cold-water fish (salmon)?
    20. ____ Do you experience headaches or high blood pressure more frequently than you would like? Almost daily.

    (Note: This assessment tool was developed by Patrick Holford)

    Analysis table: (numbers of yes answers)

    1 to 5 Mild—Concentrate on improvement in your few areas of concern.

    6 to 10 Moderate—Diet changes, specific supplements and natural therapies like meditation or acupuncture are probably needed.

    11 to 15 High—Same steps as moderate above plus talk therapy and additional medical tests may be needed.

    16 to 20 Very high—Same steps as above with the possible need for prescription medications on an interim basis. (After appropriate tests are completed.)

    If your score indicates a need for more nutrients for your brain here are some quick and easy ways to start your improvement process. The first step is to begin to eat a Mediterranean Diet of whole, organic foods including omega-3 fish, range fed poultry, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Drink lots of spring water and avoid red meat, dairy, sugar, processed foods and fried foods. And, while this will be a good beginning you will need to do more than simply eat a healthy diet. You will need to supplement your diet with some key nutrients in order to reach a therapeutic level of the biochemicals your body is missing. Here are the six nutrients you can use to regain the youthful brain you need to live a long, healthy and productive life.

    1. Fish oil—Most people do not eat enough omega rich fish, but they can get much more to this key nutrient from a good quality supplement. Here are the scientifically proven benefits of taking 1000–1200 mg of EPA/DHA omega supplements.

    • Cell membranes are preserved, which facilitates communication between brain cells.
    • Fish oil helps to reduce the shrinking of the brain.
    • Omega-3 oils also improve brain function for memory retention.
    • The ability to learn new information is also increased.
    • Existing mental challenges such as depression, anxiety and ADD/ADHD are also improved with the consumption of fish oil.
    • The regular consumption of quality fish oil is known to significantly decrease the likelihood of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s later in life.

    2. Vitamin D3—It has been estimated that as many as 90 percent of adults in North America may be seriously deficient in vitamin D3. This nutrient is crucial to the development of healthy bones and brains, as well as protecting us from cancer, including breast and prostate cancer. Sun exposure can help to make some vitamin D3, but probably not enough. Here are some of the benefits of supplementing with vitamin D3.

    • Deficiencies of vitamin D3 have been linked to Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
    • Low vitamin D3 levels have been associated with an increase in cellular damage in the brain (often referred to as free radical damage).
    • Vitamin D3 increases the level of glutathione in the body, which helps to reduce the level of free radical damage previously mentioned.
    • People with low levels of vitamin D3 are more likely to experience cognitive impairment than those with high levels.
    • Vitamin D3 has the ability to activate over 1000 genes that protect us from many chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more.
    • Vitamin D3 provides protection for the memory and learning functions in our brain.
    • Healthy vitamin D3 levels are 50–90 ng/mL, and if they fall below that level then it may be necessary to supplement with 2000–5000 iu’s of a quality liquid gel supplement until that level is achieved.

    3. Curcumin—Curcumin is derived from the spice turmeric and has been used for thousands of years in both Indian and Chinese medicine. It is will know for its ability to reduce inflammation, as well as prevent and treat cancer, help treat diabetes and improve liver health. It also has many well documented benefits for helping the brain to stay healthy, including the following:

    • In one study participants experienced measurable improvements in cognitive and mood performance testing.
    • The same study also resulted in significant improvements in memory tasks and sustained attention span.
    • Curcumin also improves memory, concentration and cognitive function.
    • Curcumin reduces systemic inflammation and oxidative stress, while also enhancing cellular antioxidant activity.
    • Curcumin has also been shown to reduce neurodegeneration caused by toxins such as fluoride.
    • A protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is needed to promote the growth and maturation of nerve cells. Curcumin has been shown to significantly increase BDNF levels.
    • Curcumin has been shown to reduce plaque levels in the brain by up to 50 percent. Plaque is one of the main contributors to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
    • All curcumin is not easily absorbed in the body. A more bioavailable form is PC-95, which has more curcuminoids or one that contains galactomannan, which is a form of fiber to protects curcuminoids from intestinal modifications.

    4. Magnesium threonate (MgT)—This is a very special form of magnesium, which is able to better break the blood brain barrier in order to gain access to brain cells. This is important because the brain uses over 20 percent of the glucose consumed to make energy for brain cells. Magnesium is the transport agent that takes glucose into the cell. Energy cannot be made without magnesium. Magnesium has been proven to produce many benefits for the brain:

    • Magnesium threonate is an effective nutrient for treating ADHD and ADD.
    • It has also been proven effective in the reduction of amyloid plaque by 35 percent.
    • MgT is also proven effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
    • Oral dosages of MgT has been shown to be effective to prevent neuropathic pain induced by chemotherapy.
    • Magnesium is crucial for the production of the energy needed to make all of the brain’s neurotransmitters including GABA, serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine and melatonin.

    The best source of magnesium in food is dark green vegetables, however it is better to buy MgT in supplement form and take it in the evening with a vitamin B complex supplement. Vitamin B6, B12 and folate are needed to make neurotransmitters. There must be sufficient magnesium available to make the energy for this production process.

    5. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)—NAD is a coenzyme needed for several important biochemical functions. NAD enables the transfer of energy from the foods we eat to produce new replacement cells everywhere in the body. As we age this replacement process slows done due to genetic codes related to our aging process. NAD levels decline with age leaving our cells vulnerable to accelerated cellular aging. By adding NAD in supplement form, we can turn off, or at least slow down, this aging process. NAD also helps to keep our stem cells at a higher level, which helps to make new cells needed to replace aging or damaged cells. NAD accomplishes this cellular rejuvenation by repairing damaged DNA caused by the presence of toxins, strengthening our immune system and lengthening the telomeres in our chromosomes. Shorter telomeres are one of signs of cellular aging. NAD helps the brain in many ways.

    • NAD helps to repair damaged tissues in the brain.
    • Damaged brain tissues are a key factor in many brain related illnesses.
    • NAD has been shown to help control and effectively treat brain fog, cognitive impairment and “chemo brain,” or toxin overload.
    • NAD is not easily absorbed in the body in oral form. Absorption can be improved by adding ingredients such as Bacopa monierri, Cat’s claw, CoQ10 and other amino acids and nutrients.
    • The best way to ensure the highest levels of absorption is to administer NAD intravenously. Higher levels produce improved cognitive function, increased focus, reduced stress, better sleep and improved memory.

    6. Lithium—Lithium has been used for many years as a treatment for schizophrenia, at fairly large doses. Recently it has been found that lower doses provide an excellent treatment for declining memory. There are several reasons why lithium is able to provide these benefits in the new formulations that are beginning to appear on the market.

    • Lithium helps to protect nerve cells from damage.
    • Lithium also plays an important role in brain cell regeneration and recovery.
    • The brain consists of both white and gray matter. Lithium helps to increase both types of “matter” leading to less shrinking, sharper thinking skills, better focus and better memory.
    • Lithium increases gray matter by stimulating the brain to generate new cells, which then develop into neurons.
    • Myelin is made primarily from lipid (fat) and protein and forms a protective layer around each nerve cell. Lithium adds more myelin around these cells providing increased protection. This process is known as remyelination.
    • A good formulation has been developed by Life Extension called Memory Protect. Some patients experience memory improvement in just a few days.

    Summary
    There are many nutrients that have been proven to be helpful in improving brain health. However, the scientific evidence clearly points to these six super nutrients as being the best for immediate and long-term brain health improvement for most people. Every person is unique in their biochemistry, as well as their lifestyle and behavior, which means it is imperative that everyone should consult with a qualified functional medicine practitioner before making any changes in their diet, their medications, and their nutritional supplements.

    And, it is also important to monitor your biochemistry by using quality blood testing.

    • Fish oil can be measured with the Omega3/6 ratio test.
    • Vitamin D3 should be measured to ensure levels are between 50–90 ng/mL.
    • Curcumin controls inflammation which can be measured by C-reactive protein.
    • Magnesium can best be measured with the RBC Magnesium test.
    • NAD levels can be measured using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
    • Lithium levels can be measured using lithium serum blood levels.

    Most of these tests are easy to add to any blood panel, with the exception of the HPLC test. It is also possible to find an assessment based on symptoms, which can provide a timely and still very accurate method to determining the impact of the aforementioned diet and supplement changes. I think you will find this functional medicine brain health protocol to be safer, more effective, and far less costly than any of the prescription alternatives available.

    References

    1. Brooks, Megan-Low Vitamin D Linked to Cognitive Decline, JAMA Neurology, September 14, 2015.
    2. Comparison of metabolic fates of nicotinamide, NAD+ and NADH administered orally and intraperitoneally; characterization of oral NAD, J Nutr Sci Vitaminol, (Tokyo) 2006 Apr;52(2): 142–8.
    3. Fern, Chris-Whole Body Health with Vitamin D, Life Extension Magazine, Feb. 2020, p.65.
    4. Global Health Center—5 Powerful Lithium Effects on the Brain, Jan. 31, 2019.
    5. Goldschein, Susan-NAD Promotes Stem Cell Renewal and Regenerates Mitochondria, Life Extension Magazine, Feb, 2020, p. 22.
    6. Greene, David-Major Advance! New Highly Bioavailable Curcumin, Life Extension Magazine, Feb. 2020, p. 32.
    7. Healthcare.com/nutrition—How Omega-3 Oil Affects Your Brain and Mental Health, May 28, 2019.
    8. Spreen, Allan—Vitamin D Benefits For Your Brain and Memory, Posted December 12, 2013.
    9. Superfoodly.com—Magnesium Threonate Benefits for Brain: Too good To Be True? May 20, 2019.