Lutein and Zeaxanthin Boost Brain Power

When it comes to maintaining a well-balanced diet, we all like to eat foods that benefit us from head to toe. There are certain organs that we rely on to get by. Some of them are not that high up on the list, while some of them are extremely vital. Two organs that come under the latter category include your eyes and brain.

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Today, we are here to talk about zeaxanthin (Z) and lutein (L): two cartenoids that improve brain efficiency. They improve visual-spatial perception, processing, decision-making, and motor coordination… the complete brain package. So what role do they play in giving you these benefits?

Let’s find out:

Zeaxanthin and Lutein

Zeaxanthin is a cartenoid alcohol, which is synthesized in microorganisms and plants. It is what gives paprika its dark-red pigment, wolfberries, saffron, corn, as well as many other microbes and plants their characteristic colors. It is found in abundance in leafy greens and is quite beneficial for the eyes.

Lutein is also a naturally occurring cartenoid that is synthesized by plants. It is found in abundance in leafy greens like kale, spinach, and yellow carrots. This carotenoid is also beneficial for the eyes. It is absorbed in the retina from blood and prevents age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

There have been several studies conducted on how both these carotenoids improve eyesight. The question is — how are they related to cognitive function?

Effects of Zeaxanthin (Z) and Lutein (L) in Adults

According to a study published in the journal of Nutrients, high levels of zeaxanthin (Z) and lutein (L) can improve cognitive function. A placebo-controlled trial was designed to find out the effects of the cartenoids. 51 healthy adults were selected for the study and they were given Z and L supplements for a year. Their cognitive function and macular pigment optical density (MOPD) was measured every four months.

The results showed that the group that received the supplements had high levels of MOPD, which showed improvements in spatial memory, complex attention, and reasoning ability. It was concluded that L and Z supplements not only improve MOPD, but they also enhance the cognitive function.

Effects of Zeaxanthin (Z) and Lutein (L) in Older Adults

Another study published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society looked at the effects of L and Z on cognitive function in older adults. 40 adults from the ages 65 to 86 years old were selected and their brain activity was recorded through MRI scans. They were asked to complete a task such as recalling word pairings. The MRI scans revealed that adults who had high levels of L and Z did not require much brain activity to finish the task.

Go Green

Many people are a bit skeptical about supplements. If you want to take the natural root, the best way to include L and Z in your diet is to go green. Following are a few items you should include in your diet:

  • Eggs
  • Leafy Greens: Turnip, Swiss chard, collard greens, romaine lettuce, etc.
  • Carrots and tomatoes
  • Corn and celery
  • Beets
  • Oranges, grapefruit and melons

So there you have it… the macular and cognitive benefits of zeaxanthin (Z) and lutein (L). According to several studies, a lutein supplementation of 10 mg/day and zeaxanthin supplementation of 2 mg/day can improve neural efficiency in a couple of weeks. It’s time to change your diet and amp up the snacks and meals by incorporating healthy doses of L and Z in them.

Parkinson’s Disease shows promise with Nicotinamide Riboside

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a type of neurodegenerative disorder that affects an estimated 10 million around the world. According to Parkinson’s Foundation, as many as 1 million people will be living with PD in the United States alone by 2020. 

Doctors and scientists have been learning more about this condition for decades. Those affected by it have been advocating for it for years (actor Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed at age 29, has been a prominent figure). Still to this day, many questions about PD exist. 

One area of research that is meriting closer attention? The possibility that a simple vitamin compound known as nicotinamide riboside could actually play a helpful role in the management of the disease.

Parkinson’s Disease 101

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease that causes nerve cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra to weaken and die over time. The nerve cells which end up degenerating and dying produce a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical messenger that contributes to a variety of functions in the body, including movement.

This loss of dopamine producing nerve cells ultimately explains the primary symptoms of PD—changes with movement. In the earliest stages of the disease, a person may begin to notice issues such as tremor, slower movement, and muscle or limb twitches. Symptoms worsen gradually over time, and eventually can cause a person to have extreme difficulty with basic functional tasks. They may become extremely rigid, have trouble writing or speaking, and experience marked difficulty with things like posture, balance, walking, and blinking. 

PD affects men at about 1.5 times as often as women, and while advancing age is a common risk factor, estimates indicate that around 4% of people living with PD were diagnosed before age 50. Other risk factors include genes and exposure to certain environmental toxins such as herbicides.

Currently, there isn’t a cure for PD, however symptoms can generally be well-managed through medications. These medications can be expensive, however, and may come with unpleasant side effects. 

In an effort to explore different options, some researchers are finding that a simple enzyme precursor may make a huge difference.

Promising News: How This Alternative Form of Vitamin B3 Can Help People with PD

A study was recently published in the June 2018 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Cell Reports. Researchers tested neural stem cell lines from people with PD with a substance called nicotinamide riboside, better known as niacin, an alternate form of Vitamin B3. The researchers also tested nicotinamide riboside in fruit flies who had the same genetic defect seen in people with PD.

Why test with this compound? As it turns out,once inside the body nictonamide riboside gives rise to an enzyme called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). NAD+ plays several roles in the body, including regulating the biological clock (circadian rhythm), converting food into energy, strengthening cellular defense systems, enhancing cellular metabolism, and repairing damaged mitochondria (which produce cellular energy) and DNA.

This last point is what interested the researchers most. After all, mitochondrial damage is known to occur in nerve cells damaged in the development and progression of PD. If, the researchers hypothesized, nicotinamide riboside could repair damaged mitochondria, could supplementing with this vitamin B compound help manage the underlying neurodegenerative disease?

Their findings were promising. Not only did nicotinaimide riboside boost NAD+ production and subsequent mitochondrial repair in diseased cells, but it actually prevented nerve cell loss in the PD flies and preserved mobility. 

The researchers also noted that nicotinaimide riboside is generally well-tolerated, and—because it increases NAD+ production—also offers other health benefits, including protection of cardiovascular health, vision, and diabetes.

Conclusion

The results of this study on nicotinamide riboside are promising for people living with Parkinson’s disease, as well as for people at risk for developing it. As an added benefit, supplementing with this anti-aging compound is relatively affordable, well tolerated, and safe. 

To learn more, speak with your doctor. 

Resources:

Nicotinamide riboside shows promise for treatment of Parkinson’s disease

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6182092/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/parkinsons-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20376055

https://parkinson.org/Understanding-Parkinsons/Statistics

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/nicotinamide-riboside

Autism protection with Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids—found abundantly in foods such as flaxseed fatty fish as well as in supplement form—have long been heralded as an important part of a healthy diet. Research shows that adding more omega-3 fatty acid to your diet can help with everything from easing symptoms of depression to reducing the risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and inflammation.

Pregnant women are explicitly advised to consume omega-3 fatty acid supplements (namely high quality fish oil) because of the supplement’s positive effect on fetal neural development.

Given this compound’s health-boosting benefits for both mind and body, many researchers have initiated studies with the goal of answering an important question:

Can omega-3 fatty acid help adults, teens, and children living with autism?

Understanding Autism

Autism constitutes a range of neurodevelopmental conditions which impact the way a person communicates, interacts with others, and perceives their environment. With diagnoses typically beginning in the toddler years, common symptoms include decreased eye contact, lack of “make believe” play, difficulty expressing needs and feelings, repetitive language or movement, and difficulty interacting with or showing interest in others.

In the United States alone, approximately 1% of the population is affected by autism or a similar condition on the spectrum, and around 1 in 59 children—and the prevalence is growing. Autism is the fastest growing neurodevelopmental condition—and growing with it are the individual, familial, social, and economic costs of helping people with this condition.

While doctors and researchers don’t yet know the exact cause of autism—which at its core is believed to be related to atypical brain structure and function—biological, genetic, and environmental risk factors have been identified.

Lastly, while autism has no cure, it can be managed through services such as pharmacology and therapy. Many health-conscious parents (and doctors) also choose to seek holistic ways to help their children manage their symptoms more appropriately.

One leading area of holistic interest? Nutrition—particularly the addition of omega-3 fatty acids.

What’s the Link? Potential Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for People With Autism

Research has already shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help manage and improve symptoms of ADHD and mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Promisingly, systematic reviews of the literature (which include several small randomized controlled trials) have also revealed that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may be able to manage symptoms of autism, as well.

For instance, small randomized controlled trials have found that giving omega-3 fatty acids to children with autism may improve social interaction, social responsiveness, mood stabilization, and functional communication.

A leading hypothesis for these potential beneficial effects? Omega-3 fatty acid’s powerful anti-inflammatory effects—also the driving factor behind the popular compound’s other noted health benefits.

By and large, the medical and scientific communities agree that more research needs to be done to further explain if and how omega-3 fatty acids help people with autism. But given how safe omega-3 fatty acid is and how many other known health benefits it can offer, the consensus is that supplementation can be an effective complement to behavioral therapy and other traditional care approaches.

Conclusion

Do you have a child living with autism spectrum disorder? Curious about omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and how it could help? Consult with your pediatrician for more information. You know your loved one best, and you may be surprised by the results.

Resources:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-health-benefits-of-omega-3
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5108126/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2710498/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5751211/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28256376

What is Autism?

The Miracle Worker – CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) Might Have the Power to Treat Migraines

Have you heard about the CoQ10 supplement? It is being heard that the supplement is a miracle worker when it comes to treating migraine. Since the drug is fairly new, only a few studies have been conducted on it, which is why if you search for it online, you might not find the answers you are looking for. As it is with all new drugs, the CoQ10 was tested to find out if it helps with cancer, blood pressure, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and migraines. The US Department of Health and Human Services posted a conclusion of all the studies conducted, which reported that the enzyme showed promising results in the treatment of migraines.

What Is Coenzyme Q10 and How It Works

CoQ10 is a compound that generates energy for your cells. It is produced naturally, but it tends to decrease as a person ages. Luckily, you can get it through foods and supplements. The compounds works by transferring electrons to the electron transport chain that helps treat mitochondriopathy. CoQ10 is very well tolerated and even with a high dose, the side effects are quite uncommon, which include rashes, diarrhea, nausea, anorexia, and dyspepsia.

What Causes CoQ10 deficiency

  • Genetic defects in the utilization or synthesis of CoQ10
  • Nutritional deficiencies (vitamin B6 deficiency)
  • Mitochondrial diseases
  • Side effects caused by statin treatments
  • Oxidative stress caused by aging
  • Increase in demands by tissues due to health problems caused by diseases

CoQ10 and Migraines

When the body experiences abnormal mitochondrial function, it results in a decrease in antioxidant protection and increase in free radicals production. This, in turn, results in energy loss from the brain cells, which causes migraines. Since CoQ10 is chiefly found in the mitochondria, and it helps decrease inflammation that occurs during migraines.

Study #1

A study was published in the journal Neurology that looked at the effects of CoQ10 on migraines. 42 participants who experience migraines on a regular basis were asked to take 100 mg of CoQ10, three times a day for three month. They were also given placebos to check for headache days, attack-frequency, and days that cause nausea. The results showed that CoQ10 reduced attack-frequency by 47.6% whereas placebos reduced it by 14.4%. It was concluded that CoQ10 is well-tolerated and efficacious.

Study #2

A study was published in the journal Headache that looked at Coenzyme Q10 deficiency and its response in adolescent migraine. The idea of the study was to find out whether this enzyme prevents migraines or not. Patients in tertiary care who lacked CoQ10 enzymes were picked for the study. There were 1550 participants, who were given 3 mg/kg CoQ10 in the form of capsules. A few patients returned for a follow up in 97 days and reported that their headache frequency had decreased greatly from 19.2 +/- 10.0 to 12.5 +/- 10.8. It was concluded that while a more focused trial should be conducted for better results, CoQ10 does help reduce the severity of the headache, which can lead to its prevention.

The American Academy of Neurology is still trying to figure out how much more efficient Coenzyme Q10 can be in improving migraines. Even the American Headache Society has conducted its own studies and reached the same conclusion that CoQ10 holds much promise.

Omega-3 and How It Affects Your Brain and Mental Health

When it comes to a diet that is high in fats, most people naturally think that it is bad for health. But what they miss out on is not all fats are bad, especially not omega-3.

What Is Omega-3?

Omega-3 is a type of fatty acids. It is like a building block that our body uses to produce energy, maintain a healthy immune system, regulate hormones, and more.

However, this polyunsaturated fat cannot be generated on its own in the human body. This means that it must be supplied through your diet and in adequate quantities to ensure good health and proper functioning of various organs.

Foods That Are High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

If you want to gain all the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, then you should incorporate more of these food items in your daily diet.

Oily Fish

Salmon, mackerel, trout, and tuna are some of the easily available fish with the highest amount of omega-3 acids. Herring and bluefish also fall into this category.

Vegetables

Most of the green vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach are rich in omega-3 acids.

Seeds and Nuts

Walnuts, pecans and various other seeds like chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flaxseeds are loaded with omega-3.

Meat and Eggs

Eggs laid by chickens that are bred on omega-3 rich feeds (like grass or other plants) are a good source of this precious fatty acid. Meat from farm animals like cows that are reared on a grass-fed diet is also rich in omega-3.

Others

Other omega-3 rich foods consist of anchovies, wild rice, kidney beans, and olive oil.

Why Is Omega-3 Essential for Your Health?

From a healthy heart to a healthy mind, omega-3 keeps you wealthy in terms of fitness and physical wellbeing.

Boosts Heart Health

Omega-3 oils reduce the triglyceride levels but retain healthy cholesterol, thereby, lowering the chances of cardiovascular heart diseases including the risk of heart attack.

Reduces Inflammation

Fish oils not only boost the effect of anti-inflammatory drugs but are also proven to help in the treatment of diseases related to inflammation. For instance, asthma and arthritis, which stem from the inflammation of the respiratory tract and joints respectively, can be treated by consuming sufficient amounts of omega-3.

Effects of Omega-3 on Brain and Mental Health

Besides the above benefits, omega-3 oils are more widely known for the effect they have on mental health.

This substance has helped patients suffering from depression as well as people (especially children) with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Omega-3 oils ease mental health symptoms and neurodegeneration and have been proven to have significant impact on the brain.

Not only do they enhance memory and sharpen the mind, but a higher amount of omega-3 is also correlated with a lower rate of cognitive decline. It prevents dementia and Alzheimer because these fatty acids play a vital role in the maintenance of normal brain functions.

Omega-3 acids form a major part of the cell membranes of brain cells and therefore, facilitate communication between the cells.

Given the vast benefits of omega-3 for your health, it is essential to consume an adequate amount of this oil. Boost your health by taking fish oil capsules or any other omega-3 supplements to best meet the needs.

Protection against Alzheimer’s – How Benfotiamine May Prevent Cognitive Decline

According to the Alzheimer’s association, around 200,000 people under 65 suffer from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Today, scientists are calling this disease “Type III Diabetes”. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and research has revealed that it is closely related to elevated blood sugar.

To date, there is no cure or any form of drug therapy that can slow the course of this disease. However, in 2016, a study was published in the journal of Neuroscience Bulletin about a dietary supplement identified as Benfotiamine. The study revealed that this supplement can not only improve cognitive function in the Alzheimer’s patients, but also target the glucose metabolism in the brain and prevent any harm that may be caused. After that, a number of other studies were conducted to figure out how the brain is affected by blood sugar and what role it plays in Alzheimer’s.

What is Benfotiamine?

Benfotiamine is a thiamine (Vitamin B1) derivative. It is found in many food items such as nuts, seeds, legumes, wheat germ, cereal, pasta, rice, bread and flour. Since this dietary supplement is fat-soluble, it has higher bioavailability and is easily absorbed by your body, as compared to thiamine.

A Brain-Protecting Dietary Supplement

Thiamine has been known to work quite well in boosting healthy brain function. Lack of thiamine impacts many parts of the body, most importantly the brain. This leads to a number of events that impact the chemical reaction in the body causing inflammation, stress and dementia-producing disorders.

After much research, it was found out that when thiamine levels are low in the body, people are more at risk of age related diseases. The same studies revealed that when it comes to Benfotiamine, it also has a strong connection with the body’s ability to metabolize sugar. This lead to the discovery that elevated blood sugar can cause brain dysfunction when it increases in the blood.

This revealed that some of the signs of this neurodegenerative disorder can be reversed or slowed down.

Uses of Benfotiamine

Apart from Alzheimer’s, Benfotiamine also aids in treating various other problems:

  • Anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Back pain
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Thyroid disease
  • Neuropathy disease
  • Sciatica

How Benfotiamine Affects the Brain

  • When glucose level in the blood gets too high, the blood vessel’s endothelial lining gets damaged. This lining contributes to Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline
  • Through this connection, AGEs can be prevented from harming the brain and the blood vessels
  • Due to its properties, Benfotiamine is recommended more than thiamine to older people, in order to maintain brain health

According to a study published in the journal of Neuroscience Bulletin, the effects of Benfotiamine need to be explored further. This study, which was conducted on a smaller scale compared to others, was published in 2016. Only 4 participants with moderate Alzheimer’s disease were monitored for 18 months. They were asked to take 300 mg Benfotiamine daily. At the end of the study, the participants showed great signs of cognitive improvement. The change in the brain was found out through PET scans rather than doing intellectual tests.

The good news is that a high dose of Benfotiamine not only acts as shield against AGEs, it also allows you to maintain your blood sugar level. So, get yourself Benfotiamine dietary supplements and consume them twice a day, before or after you have had your meal.

Brain Slowing – How Healthy Aging Affects Your Processing Function

Our brain is the most fascinating part of the body. It controls many aspects, such as the thinking process, remembering, organizing, planning and making decisions. These cognitive abilities are what affect our everyday life and how we perform in every task. As you age, the capabilities of the brain start to diminish, and when you turn 65, these cognitive abilities make it difficult for you to live independently.

A few common changes that take place in your brain as you age include:

  • Increased difficulty in recalling names and finding words
  • Problems with multi-tasking
  • Forgetfulness
  • Focusing hard to understand what the other person is talking about
  • Unable to pay attention to certain things

While aging makes you worldlier, it does take a toll on your physical and mental health.

The Healthy, Older Brain

So, what happens to your brain as you age?

  • Certain parts of your brain start to shrink, especially those that are connected to learning and performing complex mental activities
  • Certain neurons stop communicating in the brain, which is what creates sluggish mental movements
  • The blood flow in your brain decreases
  • Inflammation occurs— a reaction caused by a disease or an injury

As compared to how adults function, a person aged above 65 processes things much more slowly. For example: a task of putting together a complex puzzle might be done by an adult in half hour, but someone older will take twice the time to complete the same challenge.

Healthy Aging Checklist

The key to keeping your brain healthy as you age is to prioritize the things that affect your mental motor in the first place. You need to constantly oil the bolts and make sure the wires are working properly. Alright, enough with the metaphors… let’s get down to business.

Following are a few ways to keep your brain healthy as you age:

Avoid Taking Brain-Slowing Medication

Certain medicines diminish your brain function and are even linked to having a high risk of Alzheimer’s. These medicines are usually for common health problems such as over-active bladder, anxiety, insomnia, allergies and vertigo. It is better to try different treatments and cognitive behavioral therapies to find relief. Medications that you should avoid include benzodiazepines, Z-drugs, anticholinergics, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics.

Avoid Sleep Deprivation

If your brain and body are not well rested, you will find it extremely difficult to function in any task. Sleep deprivation causes irritable mood and can even lead to insomnia. This causes a never ending cycle of anxiety, depression and physical health problems. Using sedatives to calm down your brain in order to induce sleep is what diminishes the quality of your brain.

Engage in Activities

The more social you are, the more active you will be! This gives you a deep sense of purpose and shows you that you still matter and are not alone. Ultimately, spending time with people with whom you are happy prevents cognitive decline.

Stay Physically Active

Exercise helps treats anxiety and depression. It gets your body pumping and keeps you energized throughout the day. So, pick out your favorite activity and do it on the weekends. It sure will be better than running on a treadmill in the gym!

So, there you go… four perfectly good reasons how certain things in your life are pushing you down mentally. The best way to take care of yourself as you age is by doing the same things that you did as an adult.