Feed Your Brain

and no… I’m not talking zombies here or anything… I said “feed”, not “eat”.

Brains

There was a recent study out of Chicago that is suggesting that low levels of B12 in older folks may be tied to decreased cognitive ability. Now this is an early study… and of course it’s full of caveats, but according to a story on UPI:

The study, published in the journal Neurology, found having high levels of four of five markers for vitamin B12 deficiency was associated with having lower scores on the cognitive tests and smaller total brain volume.

Study author Christine C. Tangney of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago also said;

“Our findings definitely deserve further examination,” Tangney said in a statement. “It’s too early to say whether increasing vitamin B12 levels in older people through diet or supplements could prevent these problems, but it is an interesting question to explore. Findings from a British trial with B vitamin supplementation are also supportive of these outcomes.”

I also caught an expanded story on MedPage (heads up! site may require you to sign up for free to view full story);

“Vitamin B12 status may affect the brain through multiple mechanisms,” the group wrote in the Sept. 27 issue of Neurology.

The Institute of Medicine already recommends B12 supplements for seniors, co-author Martha Clare Morris, ScD, director of nutrition at Rush University Medical Center, noted in an interview with MedPage Today.

“Insufficient vitamin B12 is very common in older people,” she explained. “The older we get we have a decreased ability to absorb vitamin B12 from our diet. … Medications can also impair absorption.”

Ok, but this story is talking about older adults… what’s that got to do with me?

Well, first of all… like the first quote alludes to, increasing vitamin B12 may or may not prevent these problems… but there does seem to be a connection worth noting, so why not take preventative measures before I get old… well… older. Second, this seems to be tied to the fact that as we grow older our ability to absorb B12 decreases. Well guess what, I’m a gastric bypass patient… I already have that problem. So yea, another reason to make sure I keep taking my B12 daily.

Now since I’m just all about supplements, (and I need to tie back to the title of this post..) here’s some ways to help keep your brain in good working order via some good food choices;

Memory – vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, and celery contain luteolin, a flavonoid that is believed to reduce inflammation that can lead to cognitive decline.

Dementia – beets, cabbages and radishes are all rich in naturally occurring nitrates (not the bad kind you find in processed meats) that may boost blood flow to the frontal lobe of your brain. This is the area that is usually associated with dementia, with poor blood flow contributing to age-related cognitive decline. Scientists seem to think that the nitric oxide (a compound in these natural nitrates) help keep blood vessels supple which helps keep the blood flowing easier.

Quick Thinking – asparagus and dark leafy greens (think kale and spinach for example) deliver loads of folate, which work with vitamin B12 in helping prevent the cognative impairment discussed above.

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About Rob

I had RNY Gastric Bypass on April 8, 2009. I went from my heaviest of over 380 down to a low of 188 (for about a day!) before working on rebuilding muscle and such. Now I maintain at about 225. WLS has changed my life in so many ways, including my career as I now tackle nutritional coaching and other obesity education issues and is also a co-host on The Wake Up Call, a health and wellness radio show.