Originally published May 27 2009
Foods and Vitamins that Improve Memory and Natural Brain Function
by Melanie Grimes
(NaturalNews) The brain can maintain optimum performance if care is taken with nutrition to prevent age-related memory loss. Keeping the mind active is important, especially as the brain ages. Learning a new language or skill can help keep the brain plastic. Research shows that three hours a day of mental activity, such as crossword puzzles, can help prevent senile dementia. Some foods have a special affinity to brain function.
Nutrients from the sea
Fish has been called, "brain food" for good reasons. It contains Omega-3 fatty acids that contribute to brain health. Interestingly, iodine, also from the sea, is an important nutrient used by the brain. Iodine is present in seaweed and in iodized salt. Oysters contain zinc that stimulates nerve functioning and activity, and cognitive function.
Vitamins for the brain
1. Acetyl-l-carnitine is also found in the brain. It protects your brain cells and increases blood flow in the brain. One of its important functions is to synthesize the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which helps with memory by increasing activity of the mitochondria in brain cells. Research with acetylcholine with Alzheimer and diabetic patients showed improved brain chemistry.
2. Vitamin B12 helps repair nerve fibers in the brain. Research shows that it may also decrease the blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which decreases brain function.
3. Vitamin E
A nationally funded study of vitamin E showed that it protects nerve cells from damage, possibly from its antioxidant effects. The study used high doses that should be prescribed by a physician, as vitamin E can interfere with blood clotting medications.
4. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3s are found in the fatty membranes in nerve cells in the brain. Research has shown that omega-3s can reduce dementia. The FDA has now allowed food supplements to post health claims on labels of omega-3s that state, "Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease." The recommended dose, according to the FDA, is 3 grams a day.
Herbal Brain Enhancers
1. Ginseng is an adaptogen that helps improve brain function by increasing the release of hormones. Ginseng has been used to treat those with learning disabilities.
2. Gingko Biloba: Acts as a tonic to the circulatory system by increasing blood flow to the brain, which also brings more nutrition to the brain. Several compounds of the plant are thought to provide the functions of both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to the brain. Ginkgo is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine and further research in its usefulness in brain chemistry is ongoing.
3. Bacopa is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to improve brain function since the 6th century.
4. Huperia serrata has been used in Chinese medicine to aid brain function. The mechanism seems to imitate that of FDA approved drugs so clinical trials are underway in the National Institute on Aging.
Proper brain nutrition can go a long way in maintaining and restoring healthy brain function.
About the authorMelanie Grimes is a writer, award-winning screenwriter, medical journal editor, and adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University. She also teaches homeopathy at the Seattle School of Homeopathy and the American Homeopathic Medical College.
A trained homeopath, she is the editor of the homeopathic journal, Simillimum, and has edited alternative and integrative medical journals for 15 years. She has taught creative writing, founded the first Birkenstock store in the USA and authored medical textbooks.
Her ebook on Natural Remedies for the Flu is available at:
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