ARTICLE Brain Health
by: Dr. Noreen Lalani, N.D.
Learning how to prevent or minimize the effects of debilitating brain health diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is one of the mostsignificant health issues facing the generation of older Americans today. According to research compiled by scientists at the National Institutesof Health and the National Parkinson Foundation, approximately 4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, with more than 60,000 newcases of Parkinson’s disease diagnosed each year. With the help of condition-specific nutrients, a proper diet and a healthy lifestyle, one canimprove cognitive function, minimize the likely onset of these diseases and combat age-associated memory loss. The results, based on studiesand other information relative to critical brain functions, together with a discussion of the natural elements and related supplements that support and facilitate those functions, are presented below.
Every time the heart beats, approximately 25% of its output goes to the brain, ensuring that the brain receives a healthy supply of oxygen andblood. Gingko Biloba Extract, an herb well-known for increasing blood flow to the brain, is very rich in flavonoids that protect the brain tissuefrom harmful free radicals. Vinpocetine, derived from vincamine of the lesser periwinkle plant (Vinca minor L), also increases blood flow to thebrain, allowing more oxygen to circulate to the brain cells. Vinpocetine improves the brains ability to utilize glucose for energy.
NADH, or Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, is the reduced coenzyme form of Coenzyme 1. A coenzyme is the active or working form of avitamin that is essential to metabolism. NADH is involved in three energy production cycles, and is needed to metabolize all foods includingcarbohydrates, fats, and amino acids into ATP energy - the fuel used by every cell in the body. Research indicates increased concentrations ofNADH in the brain may boost the production of neurotransmitter brain messengers needed for proper mental function. A study showed the valueof NADH supplementation in improving mental function of people with Alzheimer’s disease2 and preliminary research suggests that NADH mayalso help those with depression.
N-acetyl-L-carnitine, a neuroprotective-dipeptide nutrient, has demonstrated the ability to slow or even reverse the many signs of brain aging.Studies show N-acetyl-L-carnitine slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and has beneficial effects on memory and attention span. N-Acetyl-L-Carnitine carries energy into the brain cell and improves brain cell efficiency.
Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid that is present in every cell membrane in the body, including the brain. It is a crucial component of optimal brain structure and function, maintaining the fluidity of brain matter. It is also critical to all cognitive brain functions and the prevention ofdementia. Phosphatidylserine crosses the blood-brain barrier and ensures that glucose enters the nerve cells so they may be energized, therebyrestoring memory, brightening the mood, lifting anxiety and helping to counter behavioral and learning problems.
Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes, has been shown to reduce or prevent cell damage caused by beta amyloid, thesubstance found in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Beta amyloid is a sticky substance that damages adjacent healthy tissues,causing inflammation and free radical-induced oxidative stress, Resveratrol protects the brain from this type of inflammation.
Another nutrient, L-Carnosine, also protects neural tissues against dementia by inactivating beta amyloid induced cell damage. L-Carnosine alsoreduces glycation, a process in which DNA and protein are damaged by glucose. Glycation is very harmful to the body as it damages proteins,lipids and nucleic acids, thus contributing to the aging process.
A very strong antioxidant called GliSODin® (Superoxide Dismutase) quenches the most damaging and dangerous free radical in the body andbrain. When used in conjunction with an anti-oxidant enzyme called Catalase, GliSODin® protects the brain and nerve tissue, reducing the risk ofdeveloping neurological diseases and age-related memory loss.
Good living habits, such as regular physical exercise, adequate sleep, reduction of stress levels, limited smoking and reduced alcohol intake,are key to delaying the onset of neurodegenerative diseases. When these living habits are augmented by a regimen of appropriate nutritional supplementation, as well as a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fresh fruits, and green vegetables, one can sustain increased cognitive functionality while significantly delaying or preventing the onset of serious brain diseases.
- Pharmacological studies supporting the therapeutic use of Ginkgo biloba extract for Alzheimer’s disease. Ahlemeyer B, Krieglstein J. Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicol
ogy, Department of Pharmacy, Philipps University of Marburg, Ketzerbach 63, 35032 Germany. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2003 Jun;36 Suppl 1:S8-14.
- Birkmayer JG. Coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide: new therapeutic approach for improving dementia of the Alzheimer type. Ann Clin Lab Sci 1996;26:1-9.
- Birkmayer JGD, Birkmayer W. The coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) as biological antidepressive agent: experience with 205 patients. New Trends Clin
- International Journal of Integrative Medicine, May 2000.
- Savaskan E, Olivieri G, Meier F, Seifritz E, Wirz-Justice A, Muller-Spahn F. Red wine ingredient resveratrol protects from beta-amyloid neurotoxicity. Gerontology. 2003;49:380-3.
- Butterfield DA, Drake J, Pocernich C, Castegna A. Evidence of oxidative damage in Alzheimer’s disease brain: central role for amyloid beta-peptide. Trends Mol Med.
- Butterfield DA. Amyloid beta-peptide [1-42]-associated free radical-induced oxidative stress and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease brain: mechanisms and consequences. Curr Med Chem.
2003;10:2651-9. Which brain vitamins are the best for you?