How Do I Boost My Brain Function?
Three Nutraceutical Solutions
Q: I’m 47 years old and have noticed that over the last couple of years my memory has become less reliable and I am having a more difficult time focusing. Are there any supplements that can help with this? - Mario, Mimico
A: It is a common understanding that brain health, including memory, intelligence and decision making, will decline naturally with age. We are also witnessing many people in our older generation suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. Boosting brain function has thus become a hot topic these days. With anything health-related, always start by examining diet and lifestyle habits. Do you have effective stress management practices in your daily routine? Can sleep quality and quantity be improved? Is your diet primarily composed of pre-packaged “food like” items or real whole foods? Do you eat the rainbow in an abundance of fruits and veggies? Are you benefiting brain function by consuming sources of healthy fats (ie., avocados, EVOO, coconut oil, pastured eggs, grass-fed beef and lamb) and omega 3 fatty acids daily? Additionally, a boost may come from the following supplement suggestions:
Lion’s Mane is a medicinal mushroom that has traditionally been used as a restorative tonic for centuries, but in more recent years has gained popular interest due to its nootropic effects (Nootropics is a fancy word for compounds that enhance brain function). Lion’s Mane has recently been linked to the production of NGF (Nerve Growth Factor), a molecule necessary for the survival and function of nerve cells. It enhances the production of NGF in the brain, which in turn stimulates nerve regeneration, reduces inflammation, and improves overall brain health and cognitive function. Clinically it has been found to help with memory, recall, focus and attention. In addition to this, it is found to be a powerful neuroprotectant.
PQQ, aka pyrroloquinoline quinone, is a micronutrient whose antioxidant activity provides an extraordinary defense against mitochondrial decay. Mitochondria are known as the powerhouses of the cells because they produce cellular energy, in the form of ATP, the energy currency of the cell. Mitochondria appear in higher concentrations in areas of the body that require more energy, such as the brain. In addition to protecting mitochondria from oxidative stress, PQQ has also been found to augment the generation of new mitochondria and possesses strong anti-inflammatory effects. Studies on PQQ have shown that it protects brain cells from oxidative damage and improves memory and cognitive function.
Ginkgo biloba has a long history of use in traditional medicine. Various studies have shown its effective anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant abilities. Its antioxidant quality is connected to improved mitochondrial function and reduced oxidative cellular damage. It’s this property that is believed to help with slowing the progression of age-related diseases, improving brain cell health, and increasing energy production for brain cell power, thus enhancing cognitive function, mood, energy and memory. In addition to this, Ginkgo biloba also improves vascular dilation and blood circulation. Better blood circulation to the brain consequently improves brain cell health and function.
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