Vitamin B12 deficiency may increase the risk of reduced mental function and increase the loss of brain volume. This is not the first study to explore this. In 2008 Oxford researchers found that people with higher B12 blood levels were 6 times less likely to experience brain shrinkage.
A daily morning dose of 2000 mcg methylcobalamin B12 may be needed to boost B12 levels. Please get a blood test to follow up where you are at.
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You already know I’m big on physical fitness but I also feel brain health deserves attention too.
Brain health and memory can be positively influenced by simple things we can do physically, mentally and nutritionally:
1. Stay physically active. Regular activity, not necessarily planned exercise, seems to relate to brain fitness. Activities like gardening, dancing and cleaning could increase chances of maintaining brain health.
2. Challenge your brain. Calculate, do word search games and crossword puzzles, and go to lectures, concerts and museums. Learn a foreign language or how to play a musical instrument.
3. Stay socially active. People who are active in clubs and social networks may hold up better cognitively than those who are less socially active.
4. Feed your brain. The brain and nervous system are comprised of 60 percent fat, so ensure your diet is rich in the Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in coldwater fish, fish oil and flax oil.
5. Lower brain calcium levels with supplements. Proper levels of calcium within the neurons are required for optimum brain function. As we reach middle age, brain calcium levels begin to rise because our bodies stop producing a protein responsible for regulating calcium concentration within the cells.
By increasing physical activity, proper nutrition, and lowering brain calcium levels, most adults will notice a definite improvement in alertness and cognitive ability within 90 days.
XYMOGEN & METAGENICS have specific formulas for improving brain function.
All my friends know I just had a birthday. We are all aware that our mental functions slow down as we age. Our focus weakens and we lose memory. One reason is because oxidative stress. That’s why you hear so much about taking ‘anti’-oxidants. These may help slow or even halt the aging damage.
Store-bought organic berries are a great source. Studies show that blueberries increase health and enhance cognitive function in aging. So make sure you add fresh blueberries to your breakfast protein shake (UltraMeal from Metagenics).
Mental decline is caused by oxidative stress or free radical damage to the brain. According to Dr. James A. Joseph, an expert on cognitive decline, “Ample research indicates that age-related neuronal decrements are the result of oxidative stress.” He says “Oxidative stress and inflammation are the evil twins of brain aging.”
In 1999, Dr. Joseph published a landmark study on the subject in the Journal of Neuroscience. His study suggested that blueberries may hold the key to reversing mental aging. Dr. Joseph took four groups of rats and fed them a normal diet. Three of the groups were given strawberry, spinach, or blueberry extracts. Over the course of 8 weeks, he tested the rats for coordination and mental functioning. The blueberry group performed best on the coordination tests. This group also showed improved neuron functioning. His research led him to nickname blueberries “brainberries.”
I’m big on anything that lowers inflammation and blueberries also function as anti-inflammatory agent to protect brain integrity.
Blueberries are best eaten with other foods that contain fats. At the top of the list are walnuts and avocado. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. That makes blueberries and walnuts a powerful combination. These foods promote youthful flexibility in brain cell membranes.
“Polyphenols in berries and fatty acids in walnuts fluidize the cell membrane,” says Dr. Joseph.
Walnuts block disease-causing inflammation in our cells. Recent research links inflammation to cognitive decline, so reducing inflammation is important to promote better mental function.
People who eat breakfast are more mentally alert. They remember more, react quicker, and are more creative. This first meal delivers fuel to the brain after fasting all night. That’s way I recommend a the UltraMeal protein shake first thing in the morning. I know you are busy and often skip breakfast – a shake takes one minute to make.
As an afternoon snack, try a handful of blackberries and mix them with almonds. Enjoy green tea – it has lots of antioxidants. Enjoy strawberries and pecans. Try another UltraMeal shake in the afternoon. Shakes with blueberries are rich in antioxidants.
Order UltraMeal from www.DrJeffreyTucker.meta-ehealth.com
“If you want a sharper mind, actively start caring for your brain and acting for its betterment,” says Daniel Amen, M.D., author of Magnificent Mind at Any Age.
Brush your teeth with your left hand (if you’re a righty), eat with your non-dominant hand, jog backward, and pursue anything else that forces you to deviate from your daily patterns. “In so doing, you’ll stimulate new parts of your brain, encouraging it to make new connections,” says Dr. Amen.
Hydrate Your Mind
Your brain is 80 percent water, and if it’s not hydrated, your neurons can’t perform properly,” says Dr. Amen. Drink eight six-ounce glasses of water a day and avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine.
Clock Seven Hours of Shut-eye
“Science shows that people who sleep for seven hours exhibit significantly more brain activity than those who don’t,” says Dr. Amen. Lack of sleep inhibits learning, concentration, and memory.
Achieve a calm, clear, stress-free brain through meditative belly breathing: Inhale slowly, allowing your stomach (not your chest) to rise, and then say the word one as you exhale. Repeat for 10 minutes.
Dance, Dance, Dance
“Few activities stimulate as wide a variety of brain systems as dancing does,” says Dr. Amen. “Dancing requires everything from coordination and organization to planning and judgment.”
Join a Reading Group
Watch less TV and read more. “Reading is good for your brain only when it involves storing and retrieving information,” says Dr. Amen. That’s why reading groups are beneficial. “And the social aspect of book groups adds another dynamic that bolsters cognitive functioning.”
Kill the ANTs
“Automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) inflame the areas of the brain responsible for anxiety,” says Dr. Amen. They also increase the production of stress hormones, which kill brain cells. Whenever an ANT enters your mind, write it down and devise a plan to correct it.
Make love often
Men who make love at least twice a week are 50 percent less likely to have a heart attack than those who have sex less often, say scientists. This matters because growing evidence supports a simple fact: What’s good for the heart is good for the brain. “Sex also releases feel-good chemicals that fight stress,” says Dr. Amen.
Eating food rich in vitamin E may reduce the risk of developing dementia, while insufficient levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of cognitive decline, say two new studies.
Archives of Neurology 67(7):819-825, 2010
Archives of Internal Medicine 170(13):1135-1141, 2010
People who consumed the highest average intakes of vitamin E from the diet were 25% less likely to develop dementia than people with the lowest average intakes, according to new data published in the Archives of Neurology.
Scientists from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, postulated that the benefits were related to the antioxidant activity of vitamin E, which counters the oxidative stress induced by a buildup of beta-amyloid protein.
The buildup of plaque from beta-amyloid deposits is associated with an increase in brain cell damage and death from oxidative stress. This is related to a loss of cognitive function and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia that currently affects over 13 million people worldwide.
In another study from a Swedish study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, which found that a combination of different vitamin E forms could help prevent cognitive deterioration in advanced age.
There are eight forms of vitamin E: Four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta). Alpha-tocopherol (alpha-Toc) is the main source found in supplements and in the European diet, while gamma-tocopherol (gamma-Toc) is the most common form in the American diet.
Tocotrienols are only minor components in plants, although several sources with relatively high levels include palm oil, cereal grains and rice bran.
For the new study, the Rotterdam-based scientists analyzed data on the intakes of antioxidants—vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and flavonoids—in 5,395 people aged 55 and older. Questionnaires and meal-based checklists were used to establish intakes of these micronutrients.
The participants were followed for about 10 years, during which 465 people developed dementia, of which 365 cases were for Alzheimer’s disease.
After crunching the numbers, the researchers calculated that people with an average intake of 18.5 mg of vitamin E per day were 25% less likely to develop dementia than the people with an average of 9 mg per day. On the other hand, no associations were observed for dietary intake levels of vitamin C, beta-carotene and flavonoids.
“The brain is a site of high metabolic activity, which makes it vulnerable to oxidative damage, and slow accumulation of such damage over a lifetime may contribute to the development of dementia,” wrote the authors.
“In particular, when beta-amyloid (a hallmark of pathologic Alzheimer’s disease) accumulates in the brain, an inflammatory response is likely evoked that produces nitric oxide radicals and downstream neurodegenerative effects. Vitamin E is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant that may help to inhibit the pathogenesis of dementia.”
The current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine also carries new data from British researchers who report that seniors with low levels of vitamin D may be at an increased risk of cognitive decline.
Our cognitive performance declines naturally as we age, but new data from David Llewellyn and his colleagues at the University of Exeter in England indicates that insufficient levels of vitamin D may accelerate this decline.
The Exeter-based scientists analyzed vitamin D levels from blood samples of 858 adults aged 65 and older. Cognitive tests were undertaken at the start of the study, and again after three and six years.
The data showed that severe vitamin D deficiency, defined as blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) of less than 25 nanomoles per liter—were associated with a 60% increase in the risk of substantial cognitive decline.
“If future prospective studies and randomized controlled trials confirm that vitamin D deficiency is causally related to cognitive decline, then this would open up important new possibilities for treatment and prevention,” concluded Llewellyn and his co-workers.