Constitutional Health Network:
Supplements For Your Brain: Good or Bad?

Supplements For Your Brain: Good or Bad?

Spring’s return signals a return to an active lifestyle. Many seniors opt to work on enhancing their overall health. For example, you might make healthier food choices or begin an exercise program.
 However, you must always ensure your physician approves of your choices. Even simple changes like adding a new vitamin to your daily routine needs your physician’s input.
 
As you age, your body goes through many challenges. Without your input, your body will deteriorate. You may have genes that place you at a higher risk for having Alzheimer’s disease (AD). While uncertainty stares back into your eyes, you must take an active role in your care to ensure you live a long, happy life.

Why Should My Doctor Know About My Vitamins?

Nearly every visit to the doctor comes with blood tests. These tests allow the doctor to check your nutrient levels. As you age, your appetite may decrease. This results in low levels of many necessary nutrients. Taking the right vitamins will help make up for missing nutrients in your diet. However, some vitamins or too much of a certain vitamin could make your health worse.

How Does Too Much of a Vitamin Make My Health Worse?

When you take too much of a vitamin, your body reacts negatively. This stands true for vitamins, minerals, and any other dietary supplements. In fact, scientists have recently found evidence that too much supplements could damage your brain.

Iron and Alzheimer's Dangerous Dance.

Nature Communications published a study on the effects of iron on Alzheimer’s on May 18, 2015. Researchers knew iron would cause problems for Alzheimer’s to begin with. However, researchers were unsure of how this process played out over the long-term. Previous studies only studied the effects of iron on short-term AD.
 
The study followed 302 people over seven years.
 
  • 91 people had normal brain health.
  • 144 people had mild memory problems.
  • 67 people had AD.  
 
Researchers measured iron levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of those involved in the study. CSF surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. Participants with high iron levels also had high CSF apolipoprotein E levels (APOE). The APOE-ε4 gene marks a high risk for developing AD. High iron levels appeared with this gene’s presence.
 
These finding show the combination of the gene and high iron levels could cause AD to worsen.

What Can I Do?

Not everyone can afford genetic testing. However, you cannot wait around for AD to develop. You need to take action now. If you have a family history of forgetfulness or AD, avoid taking iron supplements.
 
If you take iron for other health issues like anemia, you have other options besides iron. Consider improving your diet through variety. Work on your heart health. Avoid things like smoking or drinking.

Can Other Supplements Improve My Memory?

Many supplements claim to improve memory. However, the National Institute on Aging studied more than 200 seniors taking dietary supplements to improve memory. The results found no improvement in memory at all. The National Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine also found the same results for a volunteer group of 3,000 people.
 
Some common memory-improving supplements include:
 
  • Ginko Bilboa
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
  • Huperzine A.
  • Acetyle-L-Carnitine.
  • Vitamin E.
  • Ginseng.
 
You have the choice to take these supplements. The placebo effect of the drugs could help you work on improving your memory as well. However, some supplements could interact with other medications, says the FDA.  Some plant-based supplements, such as willow bark, can cause changes in blood pressure. You wouldn’t mix Tylenol with alcohol. Why would you mix a supplement with your medicines?
 
This information should not scare you. It will make you more aware. You need to know how to take care of yourself.
 
No one else has as much influence on your body as you. Take care of it.
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