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Brain & Nerves

Brain and Nerves

The brain's functions are remarkable. All thoughts,  memories, behaviours, and moods arise within the brain. The brain reviews all stimuli from all the sensory system. It then reacts to these stimuli by correcting the position of the body, the movement of limbs, and the rate at which the internal organs function. The brain can also adjust mood and levels of consciousness and alertness.

The brain needs constant nourishment.A brain-healthy diet consists of water, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. It demands an extremely large amount and continuous flow of blood and oxygen—about 20% of the blood flow from the heart. A loss of blood flow to the brain for more than about 10 seconds can cause loss of consciousness. Lack of oxygen or abnormally low sugar (glucose) levels in the blood can result in less energy for the brain and seriously injure the brain within minutes.

The brain is also protected by a thin barrier that prevents some toxic substances in the blood from reaching the brain. This barrier is called the blood-brain barrier. It exists because in the brain, unlike in most of the body, the cells that form the capillary walls are tightly sealed. The activity of the brain results from electrical impulses generated by nerve cells (neurons), which process and store information. The impulses pass along the nerve fibres within the brain. Protection for the brain barrier and the nerve sheath is dependent on lipoproteins derived from essential fatty acids.

The brain and its development during prenatal through to adolesence is dependent from substances present in the diet ( vitamins, minerals, essential amino-acids and essential fatty acids, including omega- 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids). Most micronutrients (vitamins and trace-elements) have been related to cerebral functioning. For instance,

  • To produce energy, the use of glucose by nervous tissue implies the presence of vitamin B1; this vitamin modulates cognitive performance, especially in the elderly.

  • Vitamin B9(folate) preserves the brain during its development and memory during ageing.

  •  Vitamin B6 is likely to benefit in treating premenstrual depression.

  • Vitamins B6 and B12, among others, are directly involved in the synthesis of some neurotransmitters.

  • Vitamin B12 delays the onset of signs of dementia (and blood abnormalities),. Supplementation with Vitamin B12 improves cerebral and cognitive functions in the elderly;

  • In the brain, the nerve endings contain high concentrations of vitamin C.

  • Vitamin D is a factor in neurodegenerative diseases.

  • Vitamin E is directly involved in nervous membranes protection.

  • Vitamin K has been involved in nervous tissue biochemistry.

  • Iron is necessary to ensure oxygenation iron deficiency is found in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

  • Magnesium plays important roles in all the major metabolisms:.

  • Zinc participates among others in the perception of taste.

  • An unbalanced copper metabolism homeostasis may be linked to Alzheimer disease.

  • The iodine provided by the thyroid hormone ensures the energy metabolism of the cerebral cells;

The full genetic potential of the child for physical growth and mental development may be compromised due to deficiency  of micronutrients. Children and adolescents with poor nutritional status are exposed to alterations of mental and behavioural functions that can be corrected to an extent by dietary measures. Opiates that get across the gut tract lining can affect behaviour.  Brain diseases during aging can be due to failure for protective mechanism, due to dietary deficiencies, for instance in anti-oxidants related with protection against free radicals.

One supplement that is likely to benefit brain cell function is omega-3 fatty acid which may originate from fish oils, or fatty acids from plant/seed sources such as flax oil. These fatty acids promote proper brain function, and omega-3 fatty acids deficiencies can lead to neurological symptoms like depression, mood swings, and poor memory and cognitive functioning.  Studies with Medium chain Triglyceride oils have indicted some improvement in mental acuity.

Other nutrients such as Phosphatylserine and Rhodiola have shown some improvement with age related memory.