Minerals to Maintain Brain Health (2013-11-10)
We hear a lot about supplementing our diets with ‘vitamins and minerals’ but do you know which are the important minerals and why?
The following article discusses the most important minerals for our bodies and why they should not be ignored, especially as we age. Of particular interest are the research findings on the benefits of these specific minerals for brain health.
Maintaining Brain Health With Minerals
By Leslie Carter
Brain health, cognitive function and memory capacity continue to be one of the major concerns as we grow older. Research scientists are discovering more about brain health and public knowledge is growing globally and the demand for new supplements is increasing.
The brain acts as a controlling source for various functions in the human body such as vision, hearing, balance, taste and smell. It also plays a major role in controlling memories, mood and behaviour. Balancing these functions is important for the brain, and the absolute best way to achieve this is with regular intake of good quality minerals. Plant derived minerals being the best quality with the highest level of absorption you can get.
Individually, Chromium, magnesium and zinc are minerals known for providing significant benefits to brain health and cognitive function. With the greatest level of absorption and bioavailability chromium picolinate is a form of chromium used in a number of human clinical studies discovered to potentially improve brain and cognitive functions.
According to a 2010 study, brain and cognitive performances were boosted within elderly adults suffering from early memory decline through supplemental chromium picolinate. Twenty-six older adults with impaired cognitive function (pre-Alzheimer’s) were involved in this double blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study conducted by the University of Cincinnati. Each individual received 1,000 mcg of chromium picolinate or placebo capsules for 12 weeks. Researchers discovered from functional MRI scans that chromium supplementation improved learning, recall and recognition memory tasks, and individuals taking placebo capsules showed no change.
Chromium picolinate also exhibited significant benefits for metabolism and blood glucose levels, which helps brain function, in people with diabetes. Chromium picolinate supplementation lowered blood glucose levels, increased brain chromium levels and restored normal brain insulin levels. In the studies, daily doses of chromium ranged from 200 to 1,000 mcg elemental chromium, with higher doses showing greater and quicker efficacy to provide significant effects.
From a 2011 study by the University of Palermo in Italy, magnesium was reported to be directly related to cognitive function in individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Results from blood tests unveiled that magnesium was significantly lower in those with the disease compared to those without it.
Data from a 2011 study found magnesium supplementation increase of synaptic plasticity in the brain as a result from increasing magnesium levels with the supplementation. This indicated that brain cells were able to better respond to signals. Researchers also noted an increase of plasticity in other brain regions may potentially increase the use of cognitive therapy for anxiety disorders. In a 2010 study involving rats, data also indicated increasing brain magnesium levels possibly enhanced learning abilities, working memory, and short and long term memory.
Low intake of the mineral zinc has been linked to depression. A study in 2012 by researchers from the New England Research Institutes stated the intake of low dietary and supplemental zinc could possibly be associated to depressive symptoms in women. Cross-sectional data from the Boston Area Community Health survey (2002 to 2005) was used in the study, and showed women who had a low intake of dietary and supplemental zinc were more likely to have depressive symptoms.
As researchers continue to experiment and work on discovering more potential benefits, chromium, magnesium and zinc are minerals that show great potential of boosting brain health.
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