Turn the clock back on your aging brain
by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.
Why is it that yesterday you were so energetic and today you are not? In fact the frequency of experiencing spurts of high energy is decreasing in number as you age. Although mood and mental health have an impact on your energy, the cause is actually a little bit deeper occurring at the level of our cell.
Within the cells of our body are tiny power plants that act as batteries and these power plants are called mitochondria.Almost all of the energy we need to live our daily life comes from these microscopic dynamos. They turn the sugar and fat in our food into a chemical form of energy known as ATP. Each cell contains hundreds to thousands of these mitochondria and they point in all directions supplying power to whichever region of the cell currently needs it. Mitochondria are very efficient at converting nutrients into energy but they are not perfect and in the process leak tiny amounts of toxic substances known as free radicals; free radicals are highly unstable and the destruction they cause can be thought of as resembling that of radiation; damage important but tiny structures in the cell. Because the leakage occurs in proximity to the mitochondria these structures generally suffer the most. They age similarly to our skin and become wrinkly and inefficient. The result is less physical and mental energy, and a drop in the efficiency of organs and systems throughout our body. This process affects every person’s brain, even the smartest brain on the planet.
Yet there is hope. First of all do not overeat. Calories in food are a measure of the available energy that can be derived from the sugars, fats and protein in that food. The excess calories supplied from overeating actually gum up the energy producing abilities of mitochondria. Secondly, exercise. The muscles of athletes literally contain many more functioning mitochondria than their sedentary peers. Now we also know that particular supplements restore the health, integrity and energy producing efficiency of our mitochondria.
What does this all mean for me? Lots, by improving the efficiency of the mitochondria we are increasing energy production and thus the efficiency of organs and processes throughout the body. One of the foremost beneficiaries is your brain. The tiny neurons are able to work harder restoring mental energy, memory function, the ability to learn, and via improving metabolism we are turning back the clock on an aging brain. Focus, attention span, verbal fluency and recall all benefit and you become sharper, you’re not too old to be you anymore.
The leading supplements for improving metabolism and turning back the clock in your brain are likely the following; ALCAR, ALA, CoQ10 and Huperzia serrata. They respectively function as the delivery truck, the fuel or gasoline, and the spark plug for igniting the creation and release of energy making the mitochondria start working for you again increasing your energy and restoring brain power.
ALCAR is an accepted abbreviation for Acetyl-L-Carnitine; a version of the amino acid Carnitine that can enter the brain. ALCAR acts similarly to a delivery truck supplying healthy fuel to the brain. ALA is an accepted abbreviation for Alpha-Lipoic Acid. ALA is both a powerful antioxidant for healing and protecting the brain and also for shielding brain cells from little pockets of inflammation that can so quickly damage brain cell structures dramatically increasing the velocity at which the brain ages. ALA is also an important component of the fuel that the brain uses to create energy. By supplementing with ALCAR and ALA you improve the efficiency and activity of the mitochondria improving brain function and turning back the clock.
Coenzyme Q10 works like a spark plug igniting the ability to utilize energy. Some of the organs in your body can have a sufficient supply of Coenzyme Q10, however it stays put, so if another organ such as the brain or heart lacks the nutrient it cannot borrow any; it must have its own supply. Unfortunately the level of Coenzyme Q10 naturally declines with aging and illness in key organs including the heart, the brain, the liver and kidneys. Also, many classes of prescription drugs deplete your Coenzyme Q10 making supplementation imperative for maintaining energy and efficiency. Statin cholesterol drugs are notorious for depleting Coenzyme Q10 but so do many drugs used for treating high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, as well as other popular drug categories. By supplementing with Coenzyme Q10 you can ensure an adequate supply of this energy producing nutrient in every important organ of your body. Yet Coenzyme Q10 is notoriously difficult to absorb. Therefore choice becomes imperative.
Huperzia serrata can help boost your memory. You can instantly improve your memory by supplementing with a small and ancient plant known as Huperzia serrata. This is a plant in the primitive club moss family that has been used for centuries in traditional Asian medical systems. But let’s start at the beginning. Neurotransmitters are potent substances released by brain cells to carry a message to other brain cells and neurotransmitters are needed to improve mood, relax the brain and carry on the day-to-day activities that keep the brain healthy and functioning.. The neurotransmitter that Huperzia serrata affects is acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is necessary for learning and recalling; everything to do with memory. Acetylcholine levels decrease rapidly in the brains of patients with dementia. However, new evidence indicates that is harder to create acetylcholine even in healthy aging brains and this begins approximately in our mid 50s. Supplementing with a modest amount of Huperzia serrata, standardized for its active ingredient known as Huperzine A is a surefire and safe way to offset this drop in acetylcholine helping to restore your memory and ability to learn and activity and it may be the best version for those of us over 50 or who have significant health conditions. In the brain CoQ10 acts as a spark plug triggering the consistent use of energy improving brain power and awareness.