The aging brain needs some special attention. Loss of blood flow, damaged cell membranes and oxidative stress bring about a loss in cognition, focus, attention and short-term memory. Look for supplements that contain omega-3s and/or phospholipids to repair damaged membranes and ingredients that support blood flow to the brain. To boost short-term memory, see if the supplement has choline sources to support the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Another way to boost the effectiveness of acetylcholine is to take anti-acetylcholinesterases and they can be taken along with choline sources for further enhancement. There are a number of botanicals that provide powerful antioxidant properties to clean up free radical accumulation. Don’t forget about B vitamins and minerals, they are important as well.
Omega-3s and Phospholipids
Omega-3s are important brain food as they help to replenish worn out cell membranes internally and externally. This provides for proper transmitter release and reuptake. Healthy cell membranes also enhance nutrient and oxygen intake to your neurons and the removal of wastes. Omega-3s come in fish oil, flax seed, krill oil and algal forms and any of those will do. Also consider taking phospholipids such as phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylserine (PS) as they contain omega-3s. These phospholipids are highly bioavailable and are in the form your brain can use directly. Omega-3s generally come in triglyceride form and have to be processed by the liver into phospholipids before they can be used by your cells. Even better, take both omega-3s and phospholipids if you can find them. Phosphatidylcholine also serves a second function as the choline moiety on it can be used to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Brain Blood Circulation
Blood to the brain tends to slow down as we age but that is easily remedied. Botanicals are great for this such as Vinpocetine, Ginseng, Ginkgo and Gastrodia. All four of these botanicals work by a different mechanism but they’ll get the job done.
The neurotransmitter in question here is acetylcholine. It is involved with short-term memory. Acetylcholine levels are reported to be low in the aging brain as well as in Alzheimer’s. Supplementing Alzheimer’s patients and normal healthy individuals with choline increases cognition. Look for citicholine (cytidine diphosphate-choline, CDP-choline), alpha-GPC (alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine) and lecithin. Lecithin is an oily substance that contains choline and inositol. Any of these sources are a good choice.
Anticholinesterases are molecules that inhibit the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft. This effectively, allows acetylcholine to remain around longer creating a stronger signal. A good example would be Huperzine-A.
There are a number of botanicals that contain powerful antioxidants such as Ginseng, Ginkgo, Ashwagandha and curcumin. Don’t forget about CoQ10 and vitamins E and C as they are equally important.
B vitamins are always important at any age. They are coenzymes that activate a number of enzymes that run your metabolic pathways. They are involved with hundreds of pathways. A B-complex supplement is good but if you get B6, B9 and B12 you’re good.