By Karen Appold
If you’re looking to improve your brain’s health, you may find that certain supplements can help. Pick and choose depending upon your goal.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 essential fatty acid found in fish, is a main component in the brain. This building block is essential to proper function of the brain as well as the nervous system.
People who lack DHA are more likely to have brain-related problems and psychiatric disorders, such as dementia, loss of memory, Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit disorder, depression, and mood swings, according to a study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry.
Additionally, a Tufts University study found that elderly people with high levels of DHA were 47 percent less likely to develop dementia and 39 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared to individuals with low DHA levels.
DHA is found in walnuts, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Because it’s not found in many foods, you may want to consider supplementation.
Vinpocetine is an extract of the periwinkle plant that improves memory, reaction time, and concentration, according to WebMD. It works by increasing the blood flow to the brain—specifically to the part used for memory storage. It also enhances how the brain uses oxygen and protects it from damage caused by free radicals.
Huperzine A—an alkaloid—works by blocking a brain enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays a role in memory, learning, depression, anxiety, and other brain functions.
The compound is derived from a Chinese moss, Huperzia serrata. It is believed that the supplement boosts certain brain chemicals in a similar way that prescription drugs work. It is approved for use for mild age-related memory loss as well as Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Karen Appold is a writer in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.