The Best Nutrients for Building Brain Connections

By Dr. Parris Kidd

Worried about your brain? Wishing it were sharper? Realize that it's working to make itself better. And that taking dietary supplements can help.

The brain has a very high capacity to renew, repair, and upgrade its circuitry. This plasticity rests on nerve cell connections—synapses. The healthy brain has over a hundred trillion of them. Their metabolic activity is intense, and fundamentally relies on ortho-molecular (ORTHO) nutrients.

Nobel prizewinner Linus Pauling coined the term "orthomolecular" to describe those "orthodox" or "right" molecules that our enzyme systems use naturally and by choice. ORTHO nutrients show powerful health benefits in clinical studies, and the Doctor's Best team has developed a number of them into brain supplements.

The brain uses 20-50% of all the body's energy, and to make energy, we need magnesium. Best Brain Magnesium is based on the discovery that nerve cells absorb more magnesium from its threonate form than from other magnesium compounds. In rat experiments, the threonate delivered more magnesium into the brain than did other magnesium forms. It also worked better for making new synapses. Brain Magnesium improved the brains of young and old rats at levels comparable to those in the human brain.

DHA (DocosaHexaenoic Acid, an Omega-3) is a major building block for synapses and a major source of messenger molecules that help manage brain renewal and repair. DHA is highly concentrated in the brain. Experts agree DHA is practically a vitamin because the body has trouble making it from other nutrients. DHA is important for the brain's early development, and is concentrated in breast milk. DHA intake is linked to memory, learning, mood, and behavior, from birth through old age. Our Best DHA 500 From Calamari features DHA purified from squid, an ecologically-sustainable source.

PS (PhosphatidylSerine) is the best documented brain nutrient, with over 29 double-blind trials. PS is the only nutrient with two Qualified Health Claims allowed by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Clinically, PS promotes healthy memory, learning, mood, and coping with stress. Like DHA, PS is a building block for synapses. But the brain cells also use PS to make the mitochondria that meet most of their intense energy needs. Further, the nerve cells use PS to generate electrical stimuli and transmit them to the synapses. PS also helps facilitates the actions of nerve growth factor (NGF) for brain tissue renewal. PS (like DHA) is concentrated in breast milk.

GPC (GlyceroPhosphoCholine) is also concentrated in the breast milk and also supports NGF. GPC gives the brain tissue unique osmotic protection. It also supplies choline, a vitamin-like nutrient that helps the brain make acetylcholine, a very important synapse messenger. Acetylcholine also supports the daily releases of growth hormone from the brain's pituitary "master gland". GPC has benefited attention, memory, and behavior in clinical trials. Our award-winning product Natural Brain Enhancers is a combination of GPC with PS.

Folate is particularly important for the brain. This vitamin supplies methyl, a deceptively small chemical group that is necessary for the brain cells (and all our other cells) to make DNA, repair damaged DNA, assemble the DNA into genes, even regulate how the genes function ("epigenetics"). Folate is absolutely essential for the brain's early development and for its plasticity across the lifespan. The adult brain requires folate for healthy mood management, behavior, memory and other higher brain functions. Dietary supplements typically have synthetic folic acid, which (along with the folates from foods) requires enzyme conversion to become fully active following absorption. The three enzymes required for the conversion have between them, more than 40 mutations that occur in up to half of all Caucasian populations. Plus, poor lifestyle and certain medications can further deplete the body's active folate. Our award-winning Best Fully Active Folate avoids these complications by supplying folate in its most metabolically active form—MTHF (MethylTetraHydroFolate). Pregnant women, vegetarians, and the elderly are especially advised to take this product.

SAMe (S-Adenosyl Methionine) is a small molecule but packs a powerful energy charge that helps power a great variety of enzymes. SAMe supplies enzymes with at least seven different energy-activated chemical groups. It supplies energized methyl groups to at least 100 enzymes that work on DNA. In the brain, SAMe's active methyl also helps make three transmitters that help manage mood, is used to make nerve cell insulation (myelin), and supports melatonin hormone production. At least 18 clinical trials indicate SAMe is highly effective in supporting healthy mood and behavior. SAMe also provides active sulfur groups for antioxidants, which are crucial to joint and liver health. SAMe promoted joint and liver function in 24 clinical trials. SAMe generally helps fight fatigue and supports virtually all the organ systems. Doctor's Best SAMe and Double Strength SAMe are identical to the form used in the clinical trials and are blister-packed to preserve their potency and shelf-life.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is functionally intertwined with folate: a very important enzyme (methionine synthase) simultaneously uses both of them to assure the body's supplies of methyl, SAMe, and various potent sulfur antioxidants. Both must be in the methyl-form to work on the enzyme.

The synapses are our brain's basic functional units, and their functioning rests on the availability of ORTHO nutrients. The diverse benefits of these nutrients are documented in over 100 clinical trials, reflecting their importance not only for our mental performance, but also, for our overall quality of life.

Further Reading:

1. Doidge N. The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Viking (Penguin Group); 2007.

2. Pauling L. Science 1968;160:265.

3. Kidd PM. Natural Brain Enhancers (booklet). San Clemente, CA: Doctor's Best Inc; 2012.

4. Abumaria N. Journal of Neuroscience 2011;14871.

5. Saldanha LG, et al; Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids 2009;81:233.

6. Malaguarnera M, et al; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007;86:1738.

7. Krauss-Etschmann S, et al; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007;85:1392.

8. Nelson JC. American Journal of Psychiatry 2010;167:889.

9. Sato Y, et al; Journal of the Neurological Sciences 2005;231:13.