Your brain accounts for just 2% of your total body weight yet it’s responsible for 20% of your body’s total energy production. Wowzers. So your brain needs one heck of a lot of energy to be able to do its job.
That’s where vital vitamins and minerals come in. Those guys, especially the B vitamins, play a really important role in terms of brain cell function and energy production.
The best way to get these nutrients is through your diet, but if you’re not sure what you should be putting on your plate, here are a few suggestions:
Good sources of Vitamin B
Brewer’s Yeast, wheat germ, bran, dried whey, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, black eyed peas, soy beans, mushrooms, avocados, spinach, egg yolk, turkey, liver, sardines, salmon, clams and oysters.
Although we wouldn’t recommend mixing these together and eating them all at once. Yuck.
Of course, not all of us can say we eat a 100% perfectly balanced diet every single day. And sadly, we can’t store up certain vitamins and minerals for future use because they’re water soluble so we… how do we put this delicately…? We pee them out.
So there’s a good chance we may be deficient in some vitamins and minerals at various times in our life. But fear not because (drum roll please!) at Noggin, we’ve created nutritional supplements to support and optimise normal brain function.
Intrigued as to what goes into each one of those clever Noggin nutritional supplements? We’ve packed them full of fabulous B Vitamins, as well as some other rather fantastic vitamins and minerals. Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients, including how to get your tongue around those tricky names.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine: Pronounced ‘Thy-a-min’)
Essential for energy production, it aids your nervous system and also helps your body use protein.
Symptoms of not having enough can include lack of appetite, tiredness, low mood, poor memory and nausea.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin: Pronounced ‘Rybo-fla-vin’)
Helps turn fats, sugars and protein into energy, and it also promotes healthy skin.
Not having enough can cause tiredness and affect skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis, and contribute to dry lips and eyes.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin: Pronounced ‘Ny-a-sin’)
Important for energy production, it’s also been used to help with low mood, raised cholesterol and poor memory.
Not having enough has been linked with poor memory, anxiety, depression, irritability, bleeding gums and eczema.
Vitamin B5 (Panthenoic Acid: Pronouned ‘Pan-then-o-ic acid’)
Important for brain and nerve functions as well as healthy skin and hair.
Not having enough can cause poor concentration and lack of energy.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine: Pronounced ‘Py-ro-dox-ine’)
Involved in dozens of chemical reactions in our bodies, it’s a key player (along with B9 and B12) in regulating the levels of homocysteine we have.
Raised levels of homocysteine have been linked to risks of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and atherosclerotic heart disease. (Remember the name – homocysteine, we’re going to be hearing more about it as research continues.)
Vitamin B7 (Biotin: Pronounced ‘Bio-tin’)
Another energy helper and linked to the regulation of blood sugar.
Not having enough has been seen in skin conditions such as dermatitis and depression.
Vitamin B9 (Folate: Pronounced ‘Fo-late’)
A recommended supplement for pregnant women to reduce the risk of conditions such as spina bifida. Plus, remember homocysteine? (now we’ll see who’s been paying attention!) Research is currently being conducted on how B9 keeps our homocysteine levels in check.
Not having enough has been associated with low mood, especially in the elderly, and also causes a specific type of anaemia.
Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin: Pronounced ‘Mee-thile–koe-bal-a-min)
There are different forms of B12 but we’ve selected methylocobalmin to include in this supplement because this more active version of B12 has been recommended by leading figures in cognitive research.
It’s key to the function of your nervous system, keeping homocysteine in check (remember this guy?), production of choline (see Feed Me) and in the production of neurotransmitters.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid: Pronounced ‘As-orbic acid’))
Us humans are good at many things but unfortunately we can’t make our own vitamin C so we have to consume it. It’s best known for supporting the immune system and helping fight off colds and flu. Not having enough can lead to tiredness, bleeding gums, being easily bruised and frequent infections.
Vitamin D (D3, Cholecalciferol: Pronounced ‘cho-le-cal-cif-er-ol, and D2, Ergocalciferol: Pronounced ‘Er-go- cho-le-cal-cif-er-ol’)
Best known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ as catching some rays is the best way to keep your levels up, Vitamin D is vital for our bones and appears to have many uses, including supporting our immune system and reducing inflammation- the research continues on this. Having very low levels has been associated as a possible risk factor for Multiple Sclerosis.
The NHS recommend those at risk take a supplement of vitamin D, especially during the winter months.
Magnesium (Pronounced ‘mag-nees-see-um’)
Involved in hundreds of reactions within the body, including energy metabolism and muscle relaxation.
Not having enough has been shown to result in muscle weakness, muscle cramps, poor sleep, confusion, tiredness and irritability.
Zinc (Pronounced ‘zink’)
Vitally important in supporting brain metabolism.
Not having enough can affect sleep, appetite, skin conditions and slow wound healing.
Glutathione (Pronounced ‘gloo-tuh-thahy-ohn’)
AKA ‘the master anti-oxidant’.
Natural Glutathione levels have been shown to decrease as we age which seems to have a particular impact on mitochondria (remember those from biology? The powerhouse of the cell where so much of the cell energy is made) It appears to be particularly low in brain cells.
When you hear the word ‘bacteria’, what does it make you think of? Eating something a bit dodgy and feeling queasy perhaps? Yep, bacteria have got a bad rap. However, you might be surprised to know that not all bacteria will leave you with a dicky tummy. In fact, some bacteria are actually GOOD for your stomach.
You see, in recent years we’ve discovered a lot about the large numbers of bacteria and other organisms that live within us, particularly in the stomach and intestines, and we’ve learned they actually play an important protective role in some aspects of health, known as the microbiome. (Remember this word – ‘microbiome’) We also now know that what we consume can either help or hinder them.
‘What’s this got to do with the brain?’ we hear you cry. Well, have you noticed that when you’re upset or nervous, you sometimes feel ‘butterflies’ or hear a lot of gurgling (ahem) in your stomach? That’s because there’s a direct connection between your gut and your brain. And that’s why scientists are currently researching possible connections between the microbiome and depression, obesity, autism and cognitive decline.
Could it be that a happy gut helps a healthy brain? In a word – yes! The right foods or supplements containing prebiotics and probiotics can support these good guy bacteria to balance the stomach, which in turn can help maintain a healthy brain. Simple.
How it works (the nitty, gritty science bitty)
Some bacteria found in fermented foods turn sugar into lactic acid. The combination of lactic acid and increasing numbers of these helpful bacteria makes the stomach a great place for the good bacteria to stick around and a not so great place for the bad bacteria.
The benefits of some fermented foods have been known in certain parts of the world for centuries but we’re only just discovering how useful they could be in preventing or treating many common 21st century diseases, and the role they could play in helping us look after our brains.
If you’re looking for a few suggestions of how to get your daily fix of good bacteria, try adding a few of the following to your shopping list:
Live cultured yoghurt, kefir, kombucha tea, kimchi, pickled fruit and vegetables and sauerkraut.
Again, this is not a serving suggestion.
Probiotic-providing foods like these need prebiotic starter fuel. Prebiotics are basically foods that can get all the way from your mouth to your stomach and intestines where the good bacteria are so they can get to work.
You see, prebiotics and probiotics are a bit like Romeo and Juliet – they’re meant to be together. That’s why we here at Noggin have come up with both a probiotic and a prebiotic supplement; a simple blend to support our good bacteria, help them thrive and keeps the bad guys at bay. Here’s what goes into each one:
Each one of these ingredients has been specially selected based on research that has shown their roles in supporting our gut lining. AND Lactobacillus Brevis, Bifidobacterium Lacti and Bifidobacterium Longum have been shown to increase something called BDNF, or Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor to give it its full title (which is a bit of a mouthful, so we’ll stick with BDNF). So far this has only been shown in animal testing but this is pretty exciting to the sciencey people…
BDNF is a brain growth protein. Sounds pretty important, right? This little gem of a protein is involved in preserving our brain cells (neutrons) and connections (synapses), as well as creating new ones. Critically reduced levels of BDNF have been found in Alzheimer’s disease, depression and a number of other conditions affecting the brain. So we want to keep this stuff around and if we can make more of it, everyone’s a winner.