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Ask The Expert

Three Brain Boosters

Q: As I’m getting older I’m noticing my ability to concentrate and retain information is diminishing and I often feel foggy-headed. I work out 3x/week, get around seven to eight hours of sleep nightly, and this year I increased my water intake and began eating a more whole foods diet. I’ve noticed improvements already but wondered if there is anything I can take to further boost this?

 

A: Kudos on starting with the basics like diet, exercise, sleep and hydration.  As you have already mentioned, those alone have made a difference, and likely in many ways beyond better brain function. To build upon the solid foundation you have already established, try adding some of the following recommendations to further improve brainpower!

 

Magnesium L-Threonate

Magnesium is required for more than 300 reactions in the body. Among its many roles, research is uncovering more about its benefits for cognitive function. More specifically, studies have shown that the magnesium l-threonate form is able to pass through the blood brain barrier, enhance the receptors involved in learning and memory, maintain the quantity and quality of connections between brain cells, and thus improve brain cell signalling.  Studies have shown that supplementation with magnesium l-threonate enhances learning abilities, working memory (both short and long term), and even the quality of sleep.

 

Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) Oils

MCTs are a specific type of fat that is one of the easiest for the body to digest and break down into ketones. These ketones can then pass through the blood brain barrier and supply the brain with immediate energy.  Many find that MCTs can help “lift the fog”, while studies are finding that MCTs (and ketones) help protect against degenerative neurological diseases, are neurotherapeutic and neuroprotective, and seem to be an optimal fuel source for brain cells in diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s.  There are four types of MCTs, but they are not all created equal. The two standouts are Caprylic acid (C8) which converts to ketones very quickly and is an instant fuel for brain cells, and the larger Capric Acid (C10) that takes a bit longer to convert into ketones, but still has mental and metabolic benefits.  Some of the health benefits of coconut oil are in fact due to MCTs, but it is a mix of all four forms blended with other components.  To specifically boost brainpower, choose an actual MCT oil, or take it a step further and try the Bulletproof line of oils, such as their Brain Octane that is said to be a concentration of solely Caprylic acid (C8).

 

Phosphatidylserine (PS)

PS is a natural component of the brain. It plays an integral role in all brain cell activity, and is essential to help brain neurons support and maintain memory function and 

neuroplasticity (the ability to replace damaged neurons and to make new ones). Optimal levels of PS intake are thought to be important to slow down or prevent age-related cognitive decline, strengthen memory and learning retention, combat depression and improve mental focus.

 

Dr. Michelle Pobega, ND, runs a naturopathic practice near the Annex neighbourhood of Toronto. Stay connected with her at drmichellend.ca, Facebook and Twitter@MPobegaND