6. DHA (Fish Oil). The brain is nearly 60% fat and science has established that essential fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine its integrity and ability to perform. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the principle ome- ga-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid in the brain that is found in fi sh oil: (1) protects brain tissue from age-inducing infl amma- tory damage from oxidative and other stress; (2) is involved in the formation and function of new neural pathways and neurotransmitters; (3) stimulates physical changes that under- lie learning and memory; and (3) promotes healing after brain tissue injury from seizure, stroke, or TBI. Numerous observa- tional studies have linked dietary consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, and DHA in particular, with improvements in cognitive function and/or reductions in cognitive decline in healthy, aging populations.

7. Lithium. This trace mineral found in many rocks, some drinking water, and certain foods (cacao, oats, seafood, seaweed, goji berries, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, mush- rooms, egg yolks), is thought to protect and improve brain function due to its antioxidant and anti-infl ammatory proper- ties, and by suppressing harmful over-activity of the enzyme glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3), which regulates various aspects of cell function. Lithium has been found to increase NGF and BDNF and to strengthen nerve cell connections in brain regions involved in regulating thinking, mood, and behavior. Researchers determined that even microdose (300mcg) administration of lithium reduces cognitive loss in Alzheimer’s patients. In the low-dose, supplement ver- sion of lithium (lithium orotate), it is bound to orotic acid to ensure absorption. While some maintain that safe, low-dose lithium therapy has unrealized potential to prevent or treat a wide range of neurological disorders, only limited clinical evidence supports its use (for alcoholism, migraines, bipolar depression), it has not yet been shown to be an exact substi- tute for lithium, and long term use should occur only with attention to potential side effects and drug interactions.

8. Vitamin D3: Critical for optimal cognitive health, this most active form of what is actually a neurosteroid hormone has neuroprotective, anti-infl ammatory, and antioxidant properties. Preliminary studies indicate that vitamin D normalizes BDNF and increases NGF. Many preclinical studies have supported the hypothesis that vitamin D defi ciency leads to cognitive impairment, attention, and behavior problems.

Scientifi c research establishes these as some additional nutrients that can enhance cognitive performance: phosphatidyl choline (found in lecithin, eggs, sunfl ower seeds); huperzine A (from Chinese club moss); curcumin/turmeric (especially Thera- curmin for improved memory and attention); berberine (used in traditional Chinese medicine; derived from multiple plants, includ- ing goldenseal); gotu kola (herb used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine), lion’s mane (mushroom); magnesium L-threonate (the mineral form that restores degraded neuronal connections); and pregnenolone (derived from cholesterol; the parent hormone from which all other steroid hormones are made). When selecting any of the above or other cognitive enhancers, keep in mind that each nootropic has a different function, and each unique brain can require a unique stack of nutrients for increased performance.

The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, are for educational purposes only, and are not intended to take the place of a physician’s advice. Submitted by Erika Dworkin, Board Certifi ed in Holistic Nutrition®, Owner of the Manchester Parkade Health Shoppe (860.646.8178), 378 Middle Turnpike West, Manchester, CT,, nutrition specialists trusted since 1956. Erika is available for consultation and to speak to groups, including on Zoom. All statements in this article are practice or scientifi c evidence-based and references are available upon request. See ad on page 3.



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