No matter what our age is, we all can benefit from some extra brain support. Whether we want to support mental clarity, mood health, or focus, certain foods and brain exercises can help, but it’s still a good idea (especially as we get older) to add supplements that promote healthy brain function. Some of the best options include the omega-3s EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), vitamin D3, antioxidants (like acetyl l-carnitine, CoQ10, and pterostilbene), B vitamins (such as methylfolate and methyl B-12), and phosphatidyl serine. Let’s look at these more in depth.
Our brain is largely comprised of fat. Nerves are encased with a myelin sheath, which is made of protein and fatty substances. Cell membranes are made of proteins and phospholipids. One of the fats in greatest supply in the membranes of our brain cells is the omega-3 DHA. And both EPA and DHA support a healthy mood and promote healthy learning, memory, and aging.
MCTs are healthy fatty acids that are transported directly to the liver where they’re immediately processed. This is unlike other fats, which travel through our lymphatic system. Since MCTs are easily digested, metabolized and absorbed, they support brain health and energy production.
Vitamin D3 is important for our whole body. Vitamin D receptors are found everywhere, from immune cells to our brain. It promotes healthy growth and development and helps promote mood health.
Antioxidants are beneficial to overall health. They act as part of a plant’s defense system, and come to our rescue as well. Antioxidants help protect our bodies from the damage caused by free radicals.
Pterostilbene is a compound found predominantly in blueberries, although it’s also found in cranberries, sparkleberries, lingonberries, and grapes. It supports normal memory function and health aging. Pterostilbene is related to the compound resveratrol, but it appears pterostilbene is better absorbed and remains active longer.
Methyl B-12 also known as methylcobalamin, is an active, functional form of B-12 that's preconverted before it enters our body for optimal bioavailability and health. Methyl B-12 supports healthy energy metabolism, brain function, and nerve function. Although our body can absorb the vitamin B-12 traditionally found in supplements, it must convert it to the coenzyme form, methylcobalamin, to become metabolically active and provide optimal benefits. Methyl B-12 is already in the active form.
It’s estimated at least half of the population experiences difficulty converting folic acid into active folate (or methyl folate). Methyl Folate provides our body with the active form of folate, bypassing conversion and allowing it to be immediately utilized by our body. Since it can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, it provides maximum neurological health benefits. Methyl Folate is especially important for pregnant women, and a healthy diet with adequate folate may reduce a woman’s risk of having a pregnancy affected by spina bifida or other neural tube defects.
Phosphatidyl Serine is a naturally occurring phospholipid, which is a vital component of neural membranes. Studies show phosphatidyl serine promotes intercellular communication in the brain, and aids the neurotransmitters involved in learning, memory, and mood.