Strategies and Tactics for Protecting and Improving Brain Health

  • Nature's Source

Two qualities of ‘brain health’ that practically concern people are acuity and memory. Acuity relates to ‘sharpness’ vs. ‘fuzziness’ while memory concerns short and long term retention and recall. As an organ of the body the brain’s performance is a function of the nutrients and insults it is subjected to. Protecting and improving the operations of the brain involve three strategic considerations. You have to consciously think about these, make choices and act. Or not.


Things that actively impair brain function. Things you stop doing. Dietary insults lead the way. A couch potato lifestyle and a pizza and soda diet are bad for the brain. Readers already know what they have to do in these regards. Pharmaceutical insults are something else. Many prescription drugs have deleterious effects on brain function. For example, statin drugs, like Lipitor are especially bad. ‘Statins make you stupid’ as they say in the med biz. If you are taking any drugs on an ongoing basis put the name of it into an internet browser followed by ‘adverse effect’. Start reading and take action if you see reason for concern. There are always alternatives.


The proper feeding of nutrients that the brain depends and thrives upon. Things to take to make like normal.

A supply of the B vitamins is important but favour those products that feature them in their active or co-enzyme form for better absorption. AORs Advanced B Complex is a good example. Pay special attention to the form of Folate. Synthetic folic acid raises blood histamine, which can be most unpleasant. Those B vitamin or multiple products with 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (usually abbreviated as MTHF) is a safer and more effective folate. Most leading manufacturers have converted their products to MTHF but do check. The form of vitamin B12 matters too. The older oral cyanocobalamin is not very effective but sublingual methycobalamin is very good. Again, manufacturers have generally upgraded their products so it is not hard or expensive to obtain and use B12, which makes serious contribution to brain health.

A deficiency of vitamin D is expressed as being slow and stupid in brain function. Readers are aware of the many benefits of taking 1000 – 3000 IUs of vitamin D (or a lot of healthy sun exposure) daily so good brain health is an additional motivation. The same goes for vitamin C, which is of value to the brain as well as most everything else. For these nutrients, there are plenty of good quality products to choose from. Vitamin E is another required brain food but the form of it matters. Most commercial products use just d-alpha tocopherol, which has limited effectiveness. AOR, New Roots and Natural Factors use a wider range of forms of vitamin E that have superior benefits for both brain and body.

Marine oils including fish or krill provide essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that effects the brain favourably. As with all basic nutrients marine oils benefit the whole body but the brain is a pig for them. It does not require a lot of any good fish oil daily but your brain will definitely work better with some daily. Ascenta, Nordic or Carlson are good manufacturers.

There are a lot of foods or herbs known to improve or protect brain health. These can be researched easily but here is one example. Beets. Yes, the common beetroot. You would be surprised how many scientific and clinical studies attest to the favourable benefits of beets or beet juice on brain function. You liver loves beets too. Flora makes a great beet crystals product.

Nootropics aka ‘Smart Drugs’

These are the more interesting supplements. These are things that specifically boost brain health and neurofunction. Surprisingly, many of these are available as natural health products (NHPs).

Leading the way are nutrients that affect acetylcholine either by upregulating its synthesis or restricting its degradation. Acetylcholine plays an important role in memory formation and retention. There are three related and available nootropics to consider. Citicoline (cytidine diphosphate-choline) and Alpha GPC (L-Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine) help improve focus and mental energy and may possibly be useful in the treatment of attention deficit disorder. They also are of benefit in guarding against the development age related dementias. AOR and Natural Factors make acceptable products. Phosphatidylserine (PS). The U.S. FDA allows labels to state "consumption of phosphatidylserine may reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive dysfunction in the elderly". Since the FDA always understates everything, this translates to “this stuff will make you irritatingly smart”. Check it out. There are many good Canadian manufacturers.

Vinpocetine is in a class by itself. It is a powerful memory enhancer. It achieves this principally by facilitating cerebral metabolism and improving blood flow in the brain. It works by causing mild dilation of blood vessels, thereby allowing for increased cerebral blood flow, which results in increased oxygenation and glucose utilization. Vinpocetine has been found to increase brain-cell energy through its effect on the production of ATP (the cellular energy molecule). Since many brain disorders have been found to be caused by poor circulation or by neuronal damage due to inadequate oxygen and inadequate amounts of energy, it makes sense to consider vinpocetine in one's daily cognitive supplement program. Sisu make a perfect product.

Huperzine is a remarkable plant extract that acts as a cholinesterase inhibitor, which prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine. Used as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease, Huperzine also said enhances learning and memory and to protect against age-related cognitive decline. In addition, Huperzine is used to boost energy and increase alertness. Biotics Research make an excellent Huperzine product.

If you want to play in the Big Leagues, you can investigate those nootropics that are either regulated as drugs or not regulated at all. These one either needs a prescription for or you import them from international suppliers. There is a big business in this but you must do your research. Leading the way is Modafinil, which is a ‘wakefulness promoting agent’. New York Magazine calls Modafinil “Wall Street’s New Drug of Choice” which may or may not be a recommendation. A true Smart Drug, Modafinil will keep you awake and alert without any stimulant effects. Then there is a class of racemate drugs such as Piracetam, which improves cognition and memory, learning, focus and reaction times.

There is no substitute for disciplined investigation. Do not be impulsively taking things without thinking carefully about it. You would be brain dead if you did that