I can live with wrinkles and arthritis—my biggest fear of aging is losing my brain power. What’s the joy in living to a ripe old age when I can’t even remember where I put my keys, or have a decent conversation with my grandchildren?
The good news is that scientists have pinpointed nutrients that can slow down cognitive decline. So if I watch my diet and take my vitamins, I improve my ‘brain health’—which means I have a better chance of keeping my memory and my sharpness decades down the road. Read on for these magic brain nutrients.
Brain booster # 1: vitamin B
Vitamin B plays a big role in the production of neurotransmitters, particularly acetylcholine. Acetylcholine helps in the ‘memory messages.’ In fact, one study showed that a Vitamin B deficiency can increase risk for Alzheimers; another showed that people who suffered from memory lapses and other Alzheimers-like symptoms had less ‘episodes’ when they started taking Vitamin B injections. However, dosage—under the supervision of a doctor—is crucial. Too much Vitamin B can do the complete opposite, and worsen memory problems. A ‘safe’ approach is to eat food like dairy products, fish, lean meat, legumes and nuts.
Brain booster # 2: antioxidants
Free radicals can damage brain cells and interfere with the ability to ‘communicate.’ So fight them off with antioxidants like vitamin E and C. One study published in the Archives of Neurology showed that people who had high intake of vitamin E had the slowest rate of cognitive decline. Some doctors recommend that Alzheimers patients take increased doses of vitamin E to slow down the effects of the disease. Some great sources of antioxidants are broccoli, red peppers, avocados and sunflower seeds; you can also take a vitamin E supplement , but consult your doctor if you are taking any blood thinners.
Brain booster # 3: minerals
Magnesium deficiency has been linked with lower cognitive function (like memory lapses and difficulty concentrating), because of its role in maintaining proper brain wave patterns and blood circulation in the brain. Iron and zinc are also crucial in concentration, and studies show that even the smallest deficiency (too small to be picked up by blood tests) can cause low attention spans. In fact, teens who had iron deficiencies have lower math test scores. Natural sources of these minerals are artichokes, nuts, whole grains, soybean products and chicken. Iron supplements are recommended for women who have gone through menopause.
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