Put Your Brain Back On Top

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Dear Health Conscious Reader,

When you’re young, your mind is sharp, you’re quick-thinking, you’ve got clarity and focus … you feel like you’re “on top” of every situation. When you get a little older, your mental functions decline … your thinking and reaction time slow. It’s probably natural. But is it unavoidable?

As it turns out, you don’t have to become one of those slow-lane drivers just because you’re “getting older.” In fact, despite what you may have heard, cognitive decline is not inevitable.

You can improve your memory, mental focus and clarity starting today, and I’m going to show you how.

The good news is, it has little to do with genetics, and even less to do with drugs.

You can boost your mental performance and have a sharper, more agile mind by doing two simple things:

Exercising your brain and feeding your brain.

Let me explain …


Keep Your Mind Moving

When you were very small, you couldn’t do a whole lot of things. You couldn’t add numbers together, tie your shoes or even walk. But you had the ability to learn those things.

That’s because your brain has millions of cells called neurons. And they all have tiny branches coming off of them just waiting to connect to other neurons.

When you’re born, most of them are not connected to each other. But when you learn things, the messages travel from one neuron to another, creating connective pathways called synapses. The more of these connections, or synapses, you can develop between brain cells, the better your brain will perform.

And, if you can keep the connections you have, and constantly create new pathways, you’ll activate you mind and boost your brain performance no matter your age.

So, how do you it?

One way is to keep your mind challenged – keep it guessing – and create your own mental exercise program.

The Seattle Longitudinal Study of Adult Intelligence has followed more than 5,000 people since 1956, reporting on their cognitive abilities every seven years. The findings are remarkable.

Two-thirds of the people following any kind of mental exercise program showed significant improvement in brain performance. And 40 percent returned to pre-decline cognitive performance levels. What’s more, they maintained these benefits indefinitely.

Improving your brain’s abilities can be as simple as playing games. It’s true. Games aren’t just fun… many are just the kind of mental exercises that keep your brain young.

Take crossword puzzles, which are a favorite of mine. Even the simple ones get you thinking about people, places and things you may not ever think of, or even try to remember.

Other good mental exercises include word and math games.

The Internet and your local library are filled with articles, books and exercises that can help you use numbers, math, logic and puzzles so you can constantly create new synapses and keep your brain performance humming along.

One fun book you can buy at your local bookstore is called “Arithmetricks: 50 Easy Ways to Add, Subtract, Multiply, and Divide Without a Calculator” by Edward Julius. Another is “21 Games for The Mind that Won’t Shut Up!” by AT Lynne. There’s also “Mind Hacks: Tips & Tricks for Using Your Brain” by Tom Stafford and Matt Webb.

A couple of good places to start on the Web are:

Boost Your Brain to a New Level

Your brain wants to be fed all the time. It has a huge appetite for energy so it can keep going even while you sleep. And if you don’t feed it the right way, you’re not going to keep creating new pathways in your brain so it can work faster and give you better focus.

You probably already know all about “brain food” like eggs, fish and blueberries. But we’re talking about improving your sharpness and clarity, not just maintaining it. And to use nutrition to take your brain’s performance to another level means you should do two things:

  • Boost your neurotransmitters – These are the chemicals your brain cells use to send and receive signals between neurons.
  • Fight free radicals with antioxidants – Free radicals are a product of oxidation. Oxidation is what I like to call “slow burn” of living. All the work your cells do and all the energy you produce throws off unstable molecules called free radicals that attack your healthy cells and drain them of energy and strength. In your brain, they cause many of the symptoms associated with aging, and even tissue damage.

    Your body’s way of neutralizing free radicals is with antioxidants. The more antioxidants you give your brain, the better it will perform.

Fortunately, there are plenty of nutrients that can give your neurotransmitters a boost, and help you fight free-radical damage in your brain. And you can use them right now to feed your mind so it can stay focused, clear and perform better.

1. Acetyl L-carnitine (ALC) – ALC provides a range of brain protection, improving mood and memory. It protects the brain from damage due to poor circulation. ALC helps injured nerve cells to repair and function normally again. ALC also increases the release of the memory neurotransmitter, acetylcholine.

Researchers have found that ALC is so powerful that it protects brain cells from damage even when blood flow is temporarily blocked.2 ALC keeps the cell energy going even when there is little or no blood flow for short amounts of time.

I recommend 250 mg a day.

2. Choline – This is the major building block for acetylcholine, which lets your nerve cells fire along all those new pathways and through the synapses you’ve created in your brain.

You need it for all the basics like thought, memory and sleep. It even controls how you move. Your muscles receive commands from your brain via acetylcholine. That means your sense of balance and stability is controlled by this key transmitter.

You need at least 425 mg a day as a woman, 550 mg if you’re a man. The best sources from food are eggs, chicken and turkey liver and pork.

If you would like to supplement, there are several forms available. For a brain performance boost, you would have to take a high dose of the bitartrate or chloride forms, which can give you diarrhea. And the phosphatidyl form doesn’t give you much active choline.

That’s why my favorite form is choline citrate. You get a lot of active choline, and the only side effect is is a clean rush of energy for your brain.

3. DMAE – This is the natural, brain-stimulating nutrient found in some fish. Studies show it increases levels of acetylcholine. Degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are connected to the loss of brain cells that produce acetylcholine. DMAE replaces this chemical naturally and can ease symptoms.

DMAE can also temper mood and ease behavioral and learning problems. In one study, 50 hyperactive kids showed improvement in just 10 weeks.3 In another study, children with learning disabilities did better in concentration and skill tests with this nutrient.4 And there were no side effects like jumpiness, or an increase in heart rate and blood pressure like with drugs.

You need at least 35 mg per day. The best sources are wild-caught fish like salmon and small, oily fish like pilchards.

4. Vitamin B12 – This vitamin is crucial to brain function and the overall health of your nervous system because it’s the engine behind your body’s ability to make blood. That’s because B12 forms a protective layer around the nerve cells in your brain. Without that protective layer your brain can’t function properly.

In fact, a study, published in the prestigious journal Neurology, used M.R.I. scans to measure brain volume, and blood tests to record vitamin B12 levels. They divided the subjects into three groups, based on their level of the vitamin, and followed them for five years with annual scans and physical and mental examinations.

The group with the lowest levels of vitamin B12 lost twice as much brain volume as those with the highest levels.5 You should try to get at least 500 mcg per day.

5. Phosphatidylserine (PS) – This is vital to accurate brain functioning. It is highly concentrated in brain cells. Its job is to house neurotransmitters and regulate their release. As we age, we need more help from PS.

Neurology published a well-done study, which proves that PS supplementation can restore cognitive function. Researchers gave the subjects either a regimen of PS or a placebo for 12 weeks. Volunteers were between the ages of 50 and 75 with memory impairment due to age.

The PS subjects had an improvement in learning and recalling names. They were better at face recognition, remembering telephone numbers, remembering misplaced objects, and concentrating. Subjects began to improve in as little as 3 weeks.6

I recommend taking 100-200 mg of PS a day.

6. SAM-e – This nutrient is what’s called a “co-enzyme,” which means that it enables other chemical compounds to perform a number of essential functions. SAM-e is one of the main building blocks your brain needs to produce neurotransmitters.

SAM-e raises levels of another neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine enhances learning, memory, motivation, and even helps with attention and sleep. It’s also the key to experiencing pleasure and maintaining an overall sense of well being and a good mood.

For over 20 years, SAM-e has been widely used in Europe to treat depression. And in 2002, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that confirmed its efficacy. The study gave one group of people SAM-e and the other the antidepressant imipramine for 6 weeks. Both groups reported the same amount of improvement in mood. Better yet, the SAM-e group also reported significantly fewer side effects.7

You can get SAM-e at your local health-food store. I recommend you take 200 mg a day to start. If after two weeks you’re not seeing considerable improvement, increase to 400 mg.

7. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). You may know that CoQ10 is your heart’s best friend because it gives the heart so much energy. But did you know that CoQ10 protects your brain at the same time? That’s because CoQ10 blocks the loss of dopamine, and is a powerful antioxidant for your brain.

Brain levels of CoQ10 start to decline in your 20s and are lowest in stroke victims and those with brain and nerve cell diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. So it makes sense that getting more CoQ10 could help increase your brain performance.

The best food source is red meat – but make sure that it’s grass-fed. Grass-fed beef contains more CoQ10 than any other meat on the planet. But it is still hard to get enough CoQ10 from your diet alone.

I recommend taking 50 mg of ubiquinol CoQ10 daily. The ubiquinol form is 8 times more powerful and stays in your bloodstream longer than conventional CoQ10.

8. Creatine – You may have heard that weightlifters use creatine because it builds muscle. But what we know now is that using creatine along with CoQ10 can give you a real brain boost.

An animal study published in the Journal of Neurochemistry shows that taking CoQ10 and creatine blocks the loss of dopamine in the brain (a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease), protects cell membranes (they leak with age), and reduces oxidative damage.8

Your body – primarily the liver – makes creatine naturally. You can also get it from foods like grass-fed beef, fish and apples. For every 2 lbs. of beef you eat, you will gain 5 grams of creatine.

The amount you should take is related to body weight and gender. See the table below for dosage guidelines.

Creatine Loading and Maintenance

Lean Body
Mass in lbs.

Loading Dose
in Grams for
Men

Maintenance
Dose in Grams
for Men

Loading Dose
in Grams for
Women

Maintenance
Dose in Grams
for Women

80

9

3

6

2

100

11

3.5

8

2.5

120

14

4.5

10

3

140

16

5

11.5

3.5

160

18

6

13

4

180

20

6.5

14.5

4.5

200

22.5

7

16

5

220

25

8

17.5

6

Source: The Colgan Institute, San Diego.

Take the loading dose daily for 10 days. Then continue with the maintenance dose. Be sure to avoid taking your creatine with your morning caffeine as they do not interact well.

___________________________________________

1 Schaie, K. “The Seattle Longitudinal Studies of adult intelligence,” In M. Powell Lawton & Timothy A. Salthouse (eds) essential papers on the psychology of aging, Warner 1998; 263-271
2 Calvani, M. et al, “Attenuation by acetyl-l-carnitine of neurological damage and biochemical derangement following brain ischemia and reperfusion,” Int. J. Tissue React. 1992; 21(1): 1-6
3 Coleman, N., Dexheimer, P., Dintascio, A., et al, “Deanol in the treatment of hyperkinetic children,” Psychosomatics 1976; 17:68-72
4 Geller, S. J., “Comparison of a tranquilizer and a psychic energizer,” JAMA 1960; 174:89-92
5 Vogiatzoglou, et al, “Vitamin B12 status and rate of brain volume loss in community-dwelling elderly,” Neurology 2008; 71:826-832
6 Crook, T. et al, “Effects of phosphatidylserine in age-associated memory impairment,” Neurology May 1991; 41(5): 644-649
7 Delle, C, et al, “Efficacy and tolerability of oral and intrramuscular S-adenosyl-l-methionine …” Am. J. Clin. Nutr. Nov. 2002; 76(5): 1172S-1176S
8 Yang, L., et al, “Combination therapy with coenzyme Q10 and creatine produces additive neuroprotective effects in models of Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases,” J. Neurochem. June 2009;109(5):1427-39

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