Preserving our most valuable asset -- the brain
On Tuesday, December 30, 2008
by Alan Titchenal, Ph.D., C.N.S.
Living Longer & Smarter
Brain researchers have estimated that there are more neurons in the human brain than there are stars in the galaxy. Among these brain cells, more than a million new connections form each day, allowing us to accomplish amazing things. A decline in brain function with age is common, but not inevitable. Brain research is progressing rapidly and showing that the brain is a “use it or lose it” organ like most other parts of the body. Keeping the brain active and well nourished may give us many more years of sharp brain function.
Some Key Natural Compounds Support Brain Function
Several substances are showing the potential to support brain function and to slow (and possibly stop or reverse) age-related decline in mental function. Among these substances, phosphatidylserine, acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, and vitamin B-12 are known to support function of the aging brain. Following the middle-age years, supplementation with these compounds may balance a decline in the body’s production or absorption of these substances that are essential for normal brain and neurological function.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a special fat-like molecule produced in the body and obtained in small amounts in some foods. It functions as a major component of cell and mitochondrial membranes. PS is thought to be especially important for the normal function of nerve and brain cells. Many animal studies have observed enhanced mental function by providing supplemental PS to older animals. Similarly, human studies have found that PS supplements can benefit mental functions in older people suffering from various degrees and types of dementia. Since PS is present in virtually all cells in the body, scientists are studying its potential for benefit to the brain as well as other parts of the human body.
Although the body can make the components of acetyl-L-carnitive (ALC), its levels may decline in older adults and impair brain function. Red meats and milk products contain the L-carnitine component of ALC, but the amounts may not make up for the decline in body production observed with aging. Clinical trials in older people have shown that ALC supplements can benefit the treatment of a variety of mental problems.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Several studies with animals and humans have combined ALC supplementation with alpha lipoic acid (ALA), resulting in a potentially enhanced beneficial effect on aging brain mitochondrial function. ALA is essential for normal energy production in cells and also serves as a potent antioxidant.
Among other functions, vitamin B12 provides essential support for the maintenance of neural tissues in the brain. As many as one out of seven people over the age of 65 develop B12 deficiency due to a declining capacity to absorb the vitamin from foods. Deficiency may take years to develop, but can result in permanent damage to nerve and brain tissues if diagnosis and treatment are delayed. Consequently, supplementation with vitamin B12 has been suggested as a reasonable precaution to protect B12 status in older adults.
The aging brain needs good nutrition like the rest of the body. Also, providing supplemental amounts of the substances PS, ALC, ALA, and B12 may help the older brain continue to function like a younger one. The dotFIT Advanced Brain Health formula provides these compounds at levels supported by research and is designed to complement the protective components already present in the dotFIT multivitamin, antioxidant, and omega-3 supplements.