What if guarding against "brain farts" as you get old
were as simple as taking a single vitamin?
One critical nutrient holds the key to a healthy brain
The next time some holier-than-thou vegan starts blabbering about how man wasn’t designed to eat meat, ask him if he knows what powers the human brain. The answer sure isn’t tofu!
Your brain was specifically designed to function on a diet of the fats and nutrients you can only get from meat and fish. And one nutrient in particular is absolutely vital to a healthy, sharp, focused brain.
Once your levels start to plummet, you run the highest risk of cognitive impairment, including memory problems, confusion, reasoning skills——and even Alzheimer’s disease. And it’s no wonder!
A deficiency in this key nutrient can literally cause your brain to shrink
In a recent study published in the journal Neurology, researchers found that individuals over 65 who had low levels of a single nutrient also had lower scores on cognitive tests——and smaller total brain volume.
For this comprehensive study, the researchers used five different tests to determine the nutrient levels, they conducted an initial MRI scan, and they conducted tests to determine memory and other cognitive skills. When they
retested the individuals five years later, they found that low levels of this nutrient were associated with lower cognitive test scores and smaller brain volume (in layman’s terms, that’s brain shrinkage). Accelerated brain shrinkage is often the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Study author Christine Tangney said, “Our findings definitely deserve further examination. It’s too early to say whether increasing [nutrient] levels in older people through diet or supplements could prevent these problems.”
Is it too early? Not quite. If Christine had done her research, she would have known that within the past year, a top-notch study determined that simple, inexpensive vitamin contained...
The power to reverse cognitive decline
I'm talking about vitamin B12. Sounds simple enough, but if your doctor is like most other doctors out there, he's either completely overlooked your deficiancy——or he's treating you for the wrong disease. The longer this goes on, the more danger your brain is in. And it's a shame, too, because as this study revealed, B12 not only has the power to prevent cognitive decline——it has the power to reverse it.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in PloS One, British researchers put 271 seniors suffering from mild cognitive impairment onto either a daily placebo or a B complex supplement regimen (0.5mg of B12, 0.8mg of folic acid, and 20mg of B6).
After two years, the seniors who got their B vitamins did 70 percent better on memory tests than those who got the placebos——and some of them even improved their initial scores.
They got older... and their minds got BETTER with age. Imagine that!
The patients on the B vitamins also had slower rates of brain shrinkage——in one case by 500 percent.
If you’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop, here goes.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can disguise itself as a dozen other problems. And if you’re not careful, you could end up treating the wrong disease——and leaving yourself vulnerable to the damage of B12 deficiency in the process.
Vitamin B12 deficiency: The case of mistaken identity
Unfortunately, most doctors only know what they've been spoonfed in medical school——which means they've been trained to believe that B12 deficiency only happens in elderly people. And although it’s true that you become more susceptible with age, B12 deficiency is much more common in the general population than anyone knows.
Vitamin B12 is essential for proper nerve function. It helps to produce myelin, that insulation around your nerve endings that allows them to communicate. When communication breaks down, all sorts of functions can go haywire. Because of this complex role B12 plays in the body, not having enough can trigger all sorts of various seemingly unrelated problems. The most notorious is the dreaded “A” word: aging.
Some of the most common symptoms of B12 deficiency include poor memory, mental fogginess, loss of motivation, apathy, mood swings, low energy, and muscle weakness. If reading through that list sounds like it should be under a checklist titled “aging,” you’re on to something. It’s usual for seniors to develop any or all of these symptoms once they get past the 65+ mark——so usual, in fact, if you list them off to your doctor, he’s likely to tell you your age is to blame and send you on your way.
But “aging” isn’t the only misdiagnosis. Other symptoms of a deficiency are often tied to much more serious conditions. The numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, unsteadiness, and loss of bladder control that can result from a lack of B12 are often mistaken for multiple sclerosis——an incurable, life-threatening disease.
And the confusion, mental fogginess, and memory loss that can accompany B12 deficiency can be mistaken for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease——also incurable diseases.
If you continue to live under a life-sentence of misdiagnosis, you will likely die of a condition that could have been 100-percent reversible.
It’s a crime that most doctors these days are ignorant of the signs of B12 deficiency. It’s easily diagnosed, easily treated, and most importantly——easily reversed. Unfortunately, since most doctors don’t deal in nutrient deficiencies, they don’t recognize the signs until it’s too late. “Too late” can mean irreversible brain damage and anemia. You could even end up in a wheelchair for the rest of your life because of nerve damage cause by B12 deficiency.
If you’re tempted to run out and get a blood test to find out where you stand on the B12 scale, hold your horses. Because there’s something else you need to know...
The go-to test for B12 levels is about as reliable as a presidential candidate...
...he’s going to tell you something really nice, but you know it won’t be worth a damn. Just like when you get a serum (blood) test for B12. Chances are it’ll tell you that your levels are just fine——but don’t take it at face value.
B12 blood tests are notoriously bad at actually being able to accurately determine your levels of B12. Case in point: The study in the journal Neurology I told you about earlier. For the study, four out of the five makers for B12 were all associated with the lower cognitive test scores and the brain shrinkage——all of them except for the one marker you’d think you could rely on... the standard blood test.
A much more reliable test is on your homocysteine levels. I know you typically associate homocysteine with heart-related issues, but high levels of the amino acid homocysteine have also been implicated in affecting the rate of brain atrophy. Since a deficiency in B12 causes those levels to skyrocket, if you have high levels of homocysteine, you know you don’t have enough B12.
Even if you’re deficient in B12 and don’t have any symptoms, tests for this marker will most likely be elevated. For the homocysteine test, your levels should be less than 10 umol/litre (micromoles per liter).
Here’s what to do:
The first and best way to get more B12 into your system is to load up your dinner plate with fish, dairy, and meat (especially organ meat). But these kinds of results won’t come from diet alone. For the best brain boost, invest in a good, quality supplement. I recommend taking 1,000mg orally of B12 per day. Just be sure to wash it down with a juicy steak (medium rare) and a swig of raw milk.