2 Powerful Nutrients for Boosting Brain Function - and Healing the Brain & Nervous System
First and foremost, the diet we eat is truly foundational. Most of us need more healthy fats, fewer carbs and sugar (unless you’re an endurance athlete), and some good quality protein to stay energetic and healthy.
Over the years, I’ve tried all variations of eating, and what I’ve come to understand is that we all have different requirements for different nutrients.
Some people naturally need more protein. Possibly due to their O-type blood, muscle mass, or level of activity. Others need more vitamin D because they have limited sun exposure, a fast metabolism, or simply feel better with slightly higher levels.
Over and above all else, our health is OUR responsibility, not anyone else’s.
TO FEEL LIKE A KID, EAT LIKE A KID
If you’re always tired, and drive your days with caffeine, you might want to think back to when you were 8 years old. Kids have unlimited energy and eat rather simply for the most part. A banana, apple, orange, glass of whole milk, slice of pizza, chocolate chip cookie – overall pretty simple. Not a lot of coffee, tea, and energy drinks there. At least, I hope not.
When was the last time you saw a 7 or 8-year old waiting impatiently in line for their large coffee, or double espresso? Not too often, I would hope.
I love coffee, but I know if I overdo it I just don't feel my best, which affects all aspects of my life. So, I came to this epiphany that if you want to feel like a kid again, you might try eating like a kid. A healthy kid that is! As close to nature, minimally refined, and as much "organic" as possible. And, I felt worlds better when I made that shift.
We ALL have foods that are better for us than others, and by virtue of trying different things out, we usually find them. We truly owe it to ourselves, and the ones we love and serve to find what makes us feel and function our best.
After we acquire the "foundation", and start feeling better from the incorporation of foods that are best suited to our biochemistry (for some it's vegetarian or vegan, for others it's the ancestral (Paleo) diet of your particular ancestors) - we can now get the most out of the supplements we take.
So, let's move on to 2 nutrients, which I've found (from personal and clinical experience) to have some of the most profound healing and nourishing effects on the brain and nervous system.
TWO OF THE MOST POWERFUL, HEALING NUTRIENTS
There are a number of nutrients that are known to promote healing processes in the body, but today, I’d like to focus on the ones that we know, get the healing juices flowing in the brain and nervous system.
The first of these, which is not a surprise for all of the essential functions it serves in the body is:
1. Magnesium – in a 2011 article titled, “Magnesium supplement promotes sciatic nerve regeneration and down-regulates inflammatory response”, it was found that magnesium supplements significantly improve functional recovery in various neurological disorders, and enhanced regeneration markers, while reducing inflammatory cytokine expression.
In summary, improved neurological function recovery and enhanced nerve regeneration was found with a high magnesium diet.
I'm not sure if you realize how incredible this is! Simply increasing your magnesium intake via a high quality magnesium supplement can improve neurological functioning and nerve regeneration. Couple this to other anti-inflammatory, brain nutrients such as zinc, selenium, boron, iodine, lithium, and vitamin D3 and you have a powerful synergy of healing nutrients.
Magnesium also works with the body’s innate intelligence to regulate the body's natural production of cholesterol via an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase. This is the same enzyme that statin drugs strongly inhibit to lower cholesterol – but in the process selenoenzymes are depleted along with Coenzyme Q-10, which are needed for energy production and antioxidant protection in the brain and virtually every cell in the body. Not good. Enter magnesium. Magnesium works as a natural “statin” and antioxidant, anti-inflammatory nutrient with none of the adverse effects that accompany these powerful drugs. (e.g. myopathies, memory loss, confusion, peripheral neuropathy, impaired myocardial contractility, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, rhabdomyolysis, erectile dysfunction, and mitochondrial dysfunction).
For anyone dealing with anything in the neurological realm (e.g. depression, anxiety, sensitivity to stress, emotional problems, traumatic brain injury, PTSD. headaches, irritability, sleep problems), magnesium should be at the top of your list for all of its health-promoting and healing effects.
Recommended supplemental dose: 600-800 mg per day. The malate, glycinate, and threonate forms for magnesium are well-absorbed and utilized.
Nutrients don't function in isolation. Just as iron needs copper for red blood cell formation, magnesium needs lithium in its support of healing processes in the brain and nervous system. These are companion nutrients that work together to promote an effect greater than either one individually. In addition to their synergism, they possess a few unique functions unto themselves.
2. Lithium – increases neural stem cell production, and growth factors in the brain such as BDNF, which promote healing in the brain and nervous system.
Lithium is also an antioxidant nutrient, and has anti-inflammatory effects, improves mitochondrial function, protects the brain and nervous system against toxins, and promotes folate and B12 uptake into brain cells.
Jonathan V. Wright MD (ND), Director of the Tahoma Clinic in Washington has been using nutritional doses in the range of 5-20 mg per day since the 1970s, and confirms its record of exceptional safety, health promotion, and effectiveness. Wright refers to lithium as an “anti-aging brain nutrient”, and states that you can have, “A younger, healthier brain with just one small dose a day”.
Wright recommends for “brain anti-aging…from 10 to 20 milligrams (from lithium aspartate or lithium orotate) daily".
In a recent webinar (February 12, 2015) titled, “The Top 5 Minerals for Cognition, Memory and Mood”, James Greenblatt MD refers to lithium as a “naturally occurring, nootropic mineral”, which is any food, substance, or nutrient that increases mental competence (e.g. intelligence, memory, and learning). According to Dr. Greenblatt “low-dose lithium works as a multifaceted tool in integrative health, offering beneficial effects on mood and behavior, as well as memory and cognition.”
Recommended supplemental dose: 5-10 mg per day, or as recommended by your health care professional. Orotate is the best absorbed and utilized form.
FOR A BOOST IN HEALTH, FOCUS ON THE NUTRIENTS
There’s little question many of us are depleted in essential minerals such as magnesium, lithium, and many others such as iodine, zinc, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and selenium due to the high levels of glyphosate and fluoride in our food and water, which bind to and prevent the absorption of these minerals. Even with the most perfect organic, whole foods diet, there’s no doubt many of us would benefit from additional amounts of these powerful protective and healing nutrients.
Remember, nutrients heal, drugs don’t. And, love is another nutrient that we all could use a little more of too. So, share this article with the ones you love!