Essential Brain Nourishment: Energy, Vitamins and Minerals

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Essential Brain Nourishment: Energy, Vitamins and Minerals

Your brain needs energy – and lots of it! This small part of your body accounts for about 20% or more of your total energy use every day and is the major reason your liver works so hard to make other compounds into glucose, your brain’s major fuel. Proper brain function requires ample amounts of glucose to be readily-available within the brain. Concentration, focusing, attention, short-term memory, long-term memory, recall and reaction time are all essential brain activities and require ample amounts of energy. Not only must there be enough glucose in the brain, it must be able to convert that glucose into metabolic energy extremely rapidly and efficiently. That process requires several cofactors, including the B-vitamins and several minerals – thiamin, biotin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium. Too little of any one of these nutrients in the brain and glucose metabolism can slow, leading to impaired brain functions.6 In addition, the structural integrity of the neuronal network that allows the level of electrical and chemical activity that occurs in a healthy brain to proceed without mishap requires abundant supplies of riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, folic acid, pantothenic acid, iron and zinc. Recently published research shows that combining B-vitamins with N-acetylcysteine dramatically improved the cognitive abilities of a series of elderly men and women.7

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Essential Brain Nourishment: Fish Oils

References:
6. Tucker DM, Penland JG, Sandstead HH, Milne DB, Heck DG, Klevay LM. Nutrition status and brain function in aging. Am J Clin Nutr 1990;52:93-102.
7. McCaddon A. Homocysteine and cognitive impairment; a case series in a General Practice setting. Nutr J 2006; Feb 15;5:6. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-5-6 (http://www.nutritionj.com/content/5/1/6).


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