In order for the brain to accomplish
all of its important tasks and functions with clarity and precision,
it is extremely important for the neurons to be healthy and protected
and to have a proper balance of neurotransmitters. Conventional treatments
have included the use of specific drugs in the attempt to control
depression, memory loss, anxiety, hyperactivity, mood swings and behavior.
There are alternative ways that encourage a healthy brain.
Dietary modifications can help
improve the level of neurotransmitters synthesized in the brain and
consequently modify behavior. Certain nutritional supplements have
been found to help normalize neurotransmitter production, reduce anxiety
and hyperactivity and protect the brain from oxidative stress.
Key nutrients such as amino acids along with B vitamins, especially
Vitamin B6, can affect the synthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin,
dopamine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine, which can all have a
profound effect on mood, sleep and motor activity.
The brain requires energy and
oxygen. Glucose is the basic energy nutrient used by the cells of
the brain. Neurons however, require lots of oxygen and B vitamins
in order to process the glucose. The brain is 2% of the total body
weight, but uses over 20% of the bodys oxygen! While there is
rarely a shortage of glucose for the brain, it needs a constant supply
of oxygen and B vitamins in order to process it.
The amino acids N,N-dimethylglycine
(DMG) and trimethylglycine (TMG) can help provide more energy and
oxygen utilization to the brain and support cognitive function.
NUTRIENTS FOR THE BRAIN
Neurotransmitters are produced by various nutrients found in our food.
Proteins, for example, contain amino acids, such as phenylalanine,
tyrosine, and tryptophan which help to form epinephrine, norepinephrine,
dopamine, and serotonin. Choline is a necessary building block for
the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that affects the
direct transmission of nerve signals between nerve cells. Along with
the importance of balancing neurotransmitters is the need to support
the structure of our neurons. Healthy neurons make for a healthy brain
and nervous system.
Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid
that is present in every cell membrane in the body, especially in
brain tissue. It is actively involved in the repair and maintenance
of each cells structure and its benefits include memory improvement,
better learning capability, mood enhancement, and combating stress.
L-carnitine helps promote brain health. It enhances learning, long-term
memory, concentration and focus, helps fight low mood states and regulates
Zinc and magnesium are an integral
part of the communication system between nerve cells and are important
for proper brain function. The polyunsaturated fatty acids, EPA and
DHA, also are very important to optimizing brain function. A strong
nutritional foundation is important in maintaining optimal brain health.
BEHAVIOR AND MOOD
A number of behavior abnormalities such as hyperactivity, inability
to focus, short attention span, anxiousness, mood swings and sleep
irregularities have been linked to neurotransmitter malfunctions.
The causes of these problems have been linked to gastrointestinal
dysfunction, heavy metal toxicity, environmental pollutants, genetics
and nutritional deficiencies.
Nutrients that have been found to be helpful in normalizing behavior
and mood swings are Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid, N,N-dimethylglycine,
trimethylglycine, carnosine, taurine, magnesium and zinc. They work
together to improve brain and nerve function.
SLEEP / ANXIETY / RELAXATION
Poor quality sleep contributes to stress, poor performance and fatigue
and can lead to other health problems. Insomnia, a lack of sleep,
may be caused by a variety of factors including food allergies, overuse
of stimulants, neurotransmitter imbalances, and reactions to environmental
stressors or anxiety.
Several nutritional supplements
have been used successfully to increase the quantity and quality of
L-Theanine is a well researched amino acid found to be useful in reducing
stress and anxiety resulting in increased relaxation and improved
sleep. Along with promoting a calming effect on the brain and reducing
irritability, L-theanine helps the body produce neurotransmitters
(tryptophan, GABA and dopamine). It also helps reduce insomnia, muscle
stiffness and depression.
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) increases the level of the neurotransmitter
serotonin in the brain, which helps produce better sleep patterns.
Serotonin is critical for brain function, to balance alertness, and
for the ability to fall asleep. Insufficient production can lead to
anxiety, irritability, short attention span, and sleep disruption.
Melatonin, a natural hormone produced in the pituitary gland, helps
maintain the bodys biological clock as it relates to our sleep
wake cycle. Our level of melatonin normally increases during the night
and if our sleep cycle is disrupted (by working or artificial light
during night-time) it can produce fatigue and irritability. Melatonin
has been shown to be beneficial for producing better quality sleep
and to reduce jet lag.
Questions about this information?