fish & omega-3 oils
Seventh graders given 20 mg zinc, five days per week, for 10 to 12 weeks showed improvement in cognitive performance, responding more quickly and accurately on memory tasks and with more sustained attention, than classmates who received no additional zinc. Those who received only 10mg a day did not improve their performance. Previous studies have linked zinc nutrition to motor, cognitive and psychosocial function in very young children and adults, but this is the first study of its effect in adolescents. Adolescents are at particular risk of zinc deficiency, because they are undergoing rapid growth and often have poor eating habits. Red meats, fish and grains are good sources of zinc.
The findings were presented at Experimental Biology 2005, as part of the scientific sessions of the American Society of Nutritional Sciences.
A study of over 3,100 older men (49-71) from across Europe has found that men with higher levels of vitamin D performed consistently better in an attention and speed of processing task. There was no difference on visual memory tasks. Although previous studies have suggested low vitamin D levels may be associated with poorer cognitive performance, findings have been inconsistent. Vitamin D is primarily synthesised from sun exposure but is also found in certain foods such as oily fish.
 McCann JC, Ames BN. Is there convincing biological or behavioral evidence linking vitamin D deficiency to brain dysfunction?. FASEB J. [Internet]. 2008 ;22(4):982 - 1001. Available from: http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/22/4/982
A review described as “definitive” has concluded that there is ample biological evidence to suggest an important role for vitamin D in brain development and function, and that supplementation for groups chronically low in vitamin D is warranted. Vitamin D has long been known to promote healthy bones, but more recently has been found to have a much broader role — over 900 different genes are now known to be able to bind the vitamin D receptor. Evidence for vitamin D's involvement in brain function includes the wide distribution of vitamin D receptors throughout the brain, as well as its ability to affect proteins in the brain known to be directly involved in learning and memory and motor control. Because we receive most of our Vitamin D from sunlight (UV from the sun converts a biochemical in the skin to vitamin D), those with darker skin living in northern latitudes are particularly at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Nursing infants and the elderly are also particularly vulnerable. It has also argued that current recommendations set the recommended level of vitamin D too low. This review is the fourth in a series that critically evaluate scientific evidence linking deficiencies in micronutrients to brain function. Earlier reviews have looked at DHA, choline, and iron.
 Casanueva FF, Finn JD, Forti G, Giwercman A, Han TS, Huhtaniemi IT, Kula K, Lean MEJ, Punab M, Silman AJ, et al. Association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and cognitive performance in middle-aged and older European men. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry [Internet]. 2009 ;80(7):722 - 729. Available from: http://jnnp.bmj.com/content/80/7/722.abstract
A "cocktail" of dietary supplements (omega-3 fatty acids, uridine and choline) has been found to dramatically increase the amount of membranes that form brain cell synapses in gerbils. The treatment is now in human clinical trials. It is hoped that such treatment may significantly delay Alzheimer's disease. The treatment offers a different approach from the traditional tactic of targeting amyloid plaques and tangles. Choline can be found in meats, nuts and eggs, and omega-3 fatty acids are found in a variety of sources, including fish, eggs, flaxseed and meat from grass-fed animals. Uridine, which is found in RNA and produced by the liver and kidney, is not obtained from the diet, although it is found in human breast milk.
 Wurtman RJ, Ulus IH, Cansev M, Watkins CJ, Wang L, Marzloff G. Synaptic proteins and phospholipids are increased in gerbil brain by administering uridine plus docosahexaenoic acid orally. Brain Research [Internet]. 2006 ;1088(1):83 - 92. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006899306007414
A study has found that gerbils given a ‘cocktail’ of DHA, uridine and choline performed significantly better on learning and memory tests than untreated gerbils, and their brains had up to 70% more phosphatides (a type of molecule that forms cell membranes) than controls, suggesting that new synapses are forming. Some of the gerbils received all three compounds and some received only two; the improvements were greatest in those given all three. An earlier study had found that the treatment improved function in rats with cognitive impairment. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, eggs, flaxseed and meat from grass-fed animals. Choline is found in meats, nuts and eggs. Uridine cannot be obtained from food sources, but is a component of human breast milk and can be produced in the body.
 Holguin S, Martinez J, Chow C, Wurtman R. Dietary uridine enhances the improvement in learning and memory produced by administering DHA to gerbils. FASEB J. [Internet]. 2008 ;22(11):3938 - 3946. Available from: http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/22/11/3938
A mouse study has found that choline in the diet of a pregnant mother at a particular period of fetal development can change the epigenetic switches that control brain development.
A mouse study has found that the diet of a pregnant mother, especially in regards to choline, can change the epigenetic switches that control brain development in the fetus. Pregnant mice received different diets during the period when a fetus develops its hippocampus. The genetic changes affected neurogenesis. The findings add to other research pointing to the effects of maternal diet on fetal development. Top sources of choline are eggs and meat. Fish and soy are also good sources.
 Mehedint MG, Niculescu MD, Craciunescu CN, Zeisel SH. Choline deficiency alters global histone methylation and epigenetic marking at the Re1 site of the calbindin 1 gene. FASEB J. [Internet]. 2010 ;24(1):184 - 195. Available from: http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/24/1/184
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