You’re undoubtedly noticing in your practice that as your patients get older, they’re also becoming more aware and concerned about declining mental ability.
We all know deep down inside that our short term memories are going to become less accessible and our cognitive pathways won’t be as crisp and efficient as they once were. And why should they be? After all, we have full lifetimes of memories to sort through and less urgency and need for efficiency in our daily lives. We’ve earned the right to relax, and yet we tend to hold ourselves to the standards by which we’ve led our lives. We allow these memory lapses and moments of absentmindedness to seem much more profound and portentous than they should.
It’s perfectly normal to experience phenomena like:
- Forgetting why we came into a room
- Having trouble remembering peoples names, even names we should know very well
- Being unable to come up with a noun to describe an object
- Getting confused or muddled when trying to recall familiar directions or processes
Some of your patients will come to you with a real sense of urgency if these lapses are becoming more frequent or making them noticeably less functional. And as a professional, you should be able to recognize signs and symptoms of phenomena like strokes and dementia and advise them about immediately seeking medical attention.
But when they come back to you, as so many of them will, because the medical establishment can’t provide satisfactory answers and solutions and your patients feel a need to be proactive – you need to be able to provide lifestyle advice that will help them manage and monitor their own mental health.
For many, that simply involves everyday things like maintaining a certain level of social engagement and physical activity, getting enough sleep and controlling mood and anxiety. Many of these things are at least partially manageable through diet. They should be seeking out natural source anti-oxidants from foods like walnuts and tomatoes and essential fatty acids through seafood or supplements. They would probably benefit from adding supplements to their regimen – even something as basic a good daily multivitamin to make sure they’re getting enough vitamin D, E, C and K.
And when they really want to get serious about feeding their brains – your patients will be heartened to know that you’re on top of all the trends and research about the very best steps and supplements they can take to look after their mental health.
While most people are very interested to learn about cutting edge anti-aging and dementia research – they are also aware of the lag time between scientific discoveries and the transformation of that new data into new treatments and medications.
We present a list of ingredients known to:
- Increase their ability to concentrate and focus,
- Help improve mental clarity,
- Help prevent or alleviate memory loss,
- Help maintain mental vitality and improve their capacity to assimilate new concepts,
- Help deal with the depression that inevitably comes with aging and declining health.
Antioxidants inhibit oxidization and the resulting production of free radicals, which can damage or kill brain cells. Recommended anti-oxidants:
- Acteyl-L-carnitine (ACL) A desirably bio-available amino acid that originates in our livers and kidneys, Acteyl-L-carnitine occurs naturally in the body and delivers great benefits to tissues such as the brain and heart. In addition to producing energy, it is shown to improve circulation in the brain. Although not recommended for people with under-active thyroid or a history of seizures, acetyl-L-carnitine can help boost energy production in the mitochondrial “power plants” in our cells, thereby increase mental energy, improve memory and protect the central nervous system.
- Astaxanthin – a naturally occurring carotenoid found in marine life including fish, krill and crustaceans, astaxanthin is also found in bee resin and in the feathers of flamingos and storks. Perhaps the most potent of the xanthophyll carotenoids, astaxanthin is renowned for its anti-aging properties – and when it comes to brain health, it is known to decrease the risk of neurodegenerative disease by reducing oxidative stress.
Vitamin B 12:
High levels of the amino acid, homocysteine, contribute to brain shrinkage and increased risk of dementia. Vitamin B12 is an effective homocysteine suppressor.
As our society eats less meat – the main natural source of vitamin B12 – and gravitates toward more vegetarian diets, the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency increases. Our bodies don’t do a particularly good job of absorbing the nutrients we need and almost all vitamin B12 is absorbed through our small intestines. This process tends to get less efficient as we get older.
Traditional vitamin B supplements contain cyanocobalamine, in which the B12 is bound to cyanide. We depend on our livers to convert this to naturally occurring methylcobalamine – but of course, our livers also tend to do their job less well as we age. It makes sense to look beyond the traditional delivery system and
eliminate the need for conversion by taking methylcobalamine sublingual tablets (which dissolve under the tongue) and skin absorption (via a skin patch).
With almost 10 per cent of our brain’s matter comprised of the “essential fatty acids” known as omega-3s, it should come as no surprise that supplementing
Omega-3s may be the best way to prevent brain shrinkage and prevent nerve cell death. Recent studies even suggest that omega-3s can actually reverse some types of age related brain cell damage.
Efficient absorption becomes more of a challenge as we age – and since the shorter chained, plant based omega-3s known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are harder for us to synthesize – we should probably lean toward the more readily usable, longer-chained, marine-based omega-3s docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentanoic acid (EPA)
Because we each have different genetic backgrounds and all have different body chemistry (governed by diet, lifestyle and by the list of other medications we are taking), we all have different needs to restore balance and achieve and maintain optimal health. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions and it may be necessary to go through a process of figuring out what works best for each individual patient.
Nevertheless, most of the ingredients we present here are good for everyone – and many are essential in helping your maintain a healthy mind.