Why do I need brain food?
Want to have a better memory automatically? Want a natural way to feel happier? Do you have ‘brain fog’ at the end of a long work day and find it difficult to enjoy your evenings after work because you just feel mentally ‘wiped?’ Time to eat for your brain–i.e. Brain food!
How to get Brain food:
If you live outside the city and only eat organic local food and have hours to spend in the kitchen, it is possible you get all these ‘brain food’ ingredients in your diet naturally. However, this is not the case for most of us busy women living in a city, and so you can suppplment your body with these nutrients to still get the benefit! The following supplements will help increase your concentration by 50% or more and double your memory power and help keep your mood stable (i.e. keep you happier!)
Omega 3 fatty acids
The 2 types of omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil are called DHA and EPA (shortform for really long complicated scientific names of docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid respectively). Each fish oil supplement you will find will have diffrent rations of these two types of omega 3s. DHA is the most important one for brain function and concentration while EPA is a powerful anti-inflammatory and is good for preventing heart disease and joint pain. For the average person, you should ensure that the Omega 3 supplement you choose has at least 500mg of each DHA and EPA and comes from a high-quality source to ensure it is not contaminated by heavy metals for example. Look for a brand that says, ‘molecularly distilled’ on the label. Ascenta and Nordic Naturals are two brands carried widely in North America that meet these standards. If you are using Omega 3’s for a more specific purpose, like helping depression, or anxiety or improving concentration, you will want different ratios of EPA:DHA, as each of the components do different things depending on what action you want.
If you are struggling with low or depressed mood and low energy it is time to get your doc to check your Iron. They will check both your Iron stores and our hemoglobin (the stuff that carries around oxygen to your body cells and needs iron to work properly). Low iron stores is a very common problem in menstruating women (i.e. women with a period). Even if your hemoglobin is normal, if your iron stores are low, you may benefit from taking iron supplements. The dose will depend your bloodwork and your doc will decide on this with you. The most common side effect with Iron pills is constipation, so if this is an issue, there are newer forms of iron that will not cause this issue. To name of few: palofer, ferusol.
Vit B6 is used in lots of chemical reactions in the body every day to keep your body and mind functioning smoothly. If you are suffering from fatigue, low mood and energy, have your doc check your B6 levels and even if they are on the low-normal side, you may still benefit from taking 50mg of Vit B6 (as P5P). Take in the morning on an empty stomach (i.e. before breakfast).
This is the stuff that improves your memory and attention. Like the B vitamins, there are many dietary sources of acetylcholine, so if you want to try to increase your consumption of these foods you may not need to take a pill supplement. Egg yolk is one of the best sources of Acetylcholine. Dairy is another source (but not fat free dairy. A good choice would be natural yoghurt here). You can also buy Acetylcholine in pill form. If you do this, start with the smallest dose and see how you feel, increasing only up to the recommended dose over a week or two.
This one is trickier to supplement on your own and I don’t recommend you play with this one without consulting a doc (either an MD who does nutrition or an ND) who can moniter you. Serotonin is our body’s ‘happy hormone’ and we need a certain level of serotonin to keep our mood stable. When we have low levels of serotonin in our brain, we can feel sad, down or depressed. There are lots of ways to increase serotonin naturally, though regular daily exercise, laughter, and mind-body techniques. These ‘drug free’ ways are safe to do on your own.
For supplementing serotonin in pill form, you should work with a qualified healh care practitioner with knowledge in this area. For mild depression, natural serotonin supplements may be all you need, without having to use pharmaceutical anti-depressant medications. However, there are some conditions, such as mania, that can be made worse by taking serotonin supplements, so this is why it is important to see professional advice before embarking on the serotonin supplement train!