Lutein has been touted as an essential nutrient for eye health, and in preventing age-related macular degeneration, in particular. Now, researchers have found that this carotenoid, present in green, leafy vegetables, also has positive effects on brain function.
Participants in a study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia took a supplement of lutein in combination with another antioxidant, zeaxanthin, or a placebo, for one year. The study results revealed that participants who took the supplement experienced improved complex attention, executive function, and mental flexibility compared to those who took the placebo.
Another study showed that the supplement combo improved overall memory performance, verbal memory, and attention span. According to Healthline, lutein and zeaxanthin are considered nootropics ― a natural or chemical substance that has a beneficial effect on brain function in healthy people.
More supplements with scientifically proven brain-boosting power:
- Fish oils. Supplements which include both DHA and EPA, two types of omega-3 fatty acids, are food for the brain. The DHA helps maintain the integrity of the brain cells while EPA acts as an anti-inflammatory protecting your brain from free radical damage and aging. Dr. Ellen Kamhi, author of The Natural Medicine Chest, tells Newsmax that if you choose to get your omega-3 fatty acids from fish, always select the wild variety, instead of farmed, because it has more of the healthy fats.
- Resveratrol. This antioxidant is found in the skin of red and purple fruits like blueberries, grapes, and raspberries. A blockbuster study from Australia found that taking resveratrol supplements enhanced cognitive and cerebrovascular functions. “Our observed improvement in overall cognitive performance with resveratrol could potentially reverse cognitive aging by up to 10 years,” said Dr. Rachel Wong, an expert in dementia and one of the researchers involved in the study.
- Caffeine. Johns Hopkins University researchers conducted a study that demonstrated that this popular stimulant is a powerful memory booster. “We’ve always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans,” says Michael Yassa, senior author of the study.
- Ginkgo Biloba. This best-selling supplement helps many adults boost their brain power, according to Healthline. It works by increasing the blood flow to the brain thereby improving its function. Other benefits include improved memory and thinking, better social behavior, and improved ability to perform everyday tasks, says Medical News Today.
- S-Adenosyl Methionine. SAMe, a naturally occurring substance in your body, may help reduce decline in brain function in some people. It is especially useful in adults suffering from depression, according to several studies. According to BrainMD, SAMe helps nerve cells make energy, maintain connectivity, and generate mood-related neurotransmitters. In addition, there is some evidence from over 40 clinical studies that this supplement helps battle heart disease, migraines and Parkinson’s disease.
- Turmeric. Dr. Kamhi tells Newsmax that this Indian spice acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory, which helps support brain health, as well as ward off diseases such as cancer and diabetes. BrainMD says that while numerous medication trials to reverse Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia have failed, curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to boost brain cell survival pathways and may also be able to help clear amyloid-beta plaque from the brain.
- Magnesium. Dr. Daryl Gioffre, a board-certified nutritionist and author of “Get Off Your Acid,” tells Newsmax that magnesium is the most important mineral we need in terms of day-to-day function, and yet half of us are deficient. Magnesium deficiency is most often caused by lifestyle factors, including a diet that is high in processed foods, alcohol abuse, and type 2 diabetes. Gioffre says magnesium is the #1 neuroprotector of your brain. “In the brain, magnesium affects learning, memory and mood along with other factors,” says the expert. Supplementing with magnesium has been shown to reduce the number of plaques in the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s disease.
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