Monday, September 8, 2008

Wonder Nutrients for Cognition, Part 3

In the two previous posts I focused on specific natural compounds, Huperzine A and Ginko, that are effective in managing cognitive decline. In this post I’ll provide strategies for effective overall brain protection, focusing on a single product which has become one of my personal favorites because of its rich content of three nutrients primarily: Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC), N-Acetylcysteine (NAC), and Grape Seed Extract.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC)
ALC is a vitamin-like substance that is responsible for the transport of fatty acids into and out of the mitochondria, and is the form of carnitine found naturally in brain tissue and is thought to be substantially more active in the CNS. ALC increases cardiolipin, which is an important phospholipid that serves as a co-factor for a number of critical mitochondrial transport proteins. Supplementation with ALC may also improve energy production within brain cells.

An analysis of controlled studies reports that persons with subclinical or clinical dementia given 1.5 to 3 g ALC daily have shown improvement in numerous clinical measures of cognitive function. In two large multicenter, crossover trials, geriatric patients given 1500 mg of ALC daily for 90 days experienced improvements in clinical tests of cognition, memory, and depression over controls. In other double-blind, placebo controlled trials, ALC-treated subjects showed less mental deterioration as rated by cognitive and AD assessment test scores.

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)
The protective effect of NAC is believed to be related to its restoration of brain glutathione (GSH) levels. GSH is central to antioxidant defenses in the brain and is an important component of detoxification of ROS. GSH, however, does not cross the Blood-Brain-Barrier, so oral supplementation with precursors such as NAC and alpha-lipoic acid are the best way to increase brain levels.

NAC has been shown to increase mitchondrial complex 1 activity and markedly improve mitochondrial electron transport chain activity. In animal models of traumatic brain injury, NAC significantly restored mitochondrial energy producing mechanisms (electron transfer, energy coupling capacity, calcium uptake activity.

Other Vital Nutrients for Brain Function included in Ceralin Forte:

  • Grape Seed Extract: Acts as a neurological antioxidant, provides protection for nerve cells, and supports circulatory function.

  • 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF): Supports neuron life cycle, neurotransmitter metabolism, methylation, homocysteine metabolism, and nervous system function.

  • Vitamin B6: Involved in the conversion of glutamate into calming GABA,supports neuron life cycle and nervous system function, as well as methylation and homocysteine metabolism.

  • Vitamin B12: Supports neurotransmitter metabolism, neuron life cycle, methylation, homocysteine metabolism, and nervous system function.

  • Thiamin and Riboflavin: Involved in mitochondrial function.

  • Niacinamide: Provides neuron protection and nervous system function.

Putting Together a Brain Protection Protocol
Unfortunately some of the best formulas for neuron protection are also the most expensive. However, a good one-two combination that is cost effective is the Ginko and Rosemary formula along with EPA/DHA from fish oil. You’ll recall from previous posts that EPA and DHA from fish oil provide support for the brain and nervous system such that it has actually been shown to raise the IQ. For those over 40 who are not feeling quite as mentally sharp, I like the addition of the brain antioxidant formula featuring acetyl-L-carnitine, NAC, and grape seed extract at 1 capsule 2-3 times per day. This formula provides some great cross-over antioxidant support that is also important for detoxification and many other body functions. For those experiencing noticeable cognitive decline, the use of the Huperzine A formula is a must at atleast 2 per day.

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