Research Tips

February 4, 2009
Power athletes take creatine supplements to enhance strength. Creatine also may help to boost the brain. A study of young adult vegetarians found significantly improved short-term memory after taking creatine for six weeks.
Proc Biol Sci. 2003 Oct 22;270(1529):2147-50


January 13, 2009
Vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause short-term memory problems similar to early Alzheimer's disease. Other possible symptoms are depression, numbness in the feet or hands, vision problems, or unexplainable random pains.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) deficiency in elderly patients


January 17, 2009
If your short-term memory is getting shorter, ask your physician to check your vitamin B12 status. You may need to get monthly B12 injections to maintain a sharp wit.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):377-85


January 28, 2009
Some individuals cannot absorb Vitamin B12. These individuals will require monthly injections of vitamin B12 to prevent short-term memory loss mimicking Alzheimer disease.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 May;81(5):1155-62.


April 13, 2009
Poor iron nutrition may predispose people to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. When low iron status is properly diagnosed in a child with ADHD, iron supplementation may reduce symptoms.
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004 Dec;158(12):1113-5.


April 15, 2009
Athletes often take creatine supplements to boost muscle performance in high intensity sports. The brain also uses creatine for energy and supplements may enhance certain types of brain performance. Food sources are meats, poultry and fish.
Neurosci Res. 2002 Apr;42(4):279-85.


May 17, 2009
Good nutrition is needed for a healthy mind and an active memory. Eating a wide variety of foods from all of the food groups helps to provide all nutrients needed for peak brain function.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):377-85.


May 21, 2009
Breakfast can increase the speed and accuracy of recalling information. To get a good start on meeting daily nutrient needs, try eating one-fourth of the day's calories at breakfast.
Indian Pediatr. 2008 Oct;45(10):824-8.


May 26, 2009
The senses of taste and smell are essential for selection of safe foods that are not spoiled and toxic. Eating a variety of foods can support keen senses by providing key nutrients such as vitamin A, thiamin (B1), iron, zinc and copper.
Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2007 Mar;23(2):171-7.


May 28, 2009
Strictly speaking, there is no dietary requirement for carbohydrate. The brain, however, prefers glucose for its metabolic fuel and uses about 400 calories of the blood sugar glucose each day. For this reason, some carbohydrate sources are recommended in all prudent diets.
Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Apr;53 Suppl 1:S107-11.


May 31, 2009
Depression, no matter what the cause, can result in memory problems. Several vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause depression. Eating a wide variety of foods helps to meet these nutrient needs.
Rev Neurol (Paris). 2004 Sep;160(8-9):767-92.


June 8, 2009
Most people function best (mentally and physically) with something for breakfast. The most beneficial breakfasts provide a balanced mixture of carbohydrate, protein and fat. Without all three of these energy sources, many people fade out before lunch time.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):211-20.


June 25, 2009
Fish is often called “brain food” and this reputation may be deserved. One of the components of fish oil is also a major part of the human brain. There is some research that suggests consuming fish once or twice a week may help to protect brain function with aging.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jan 25;(1):CD005379.


July 1, 2009
It remains a common misbelief that sweet foods cause hyperactivity in children. However, several well-designed research studies indicated that this was not the case.
Nutr Rev. 1994 May;52(5):173-5.


July 25, 2009
A full life requires not only a strong body but also a healthy mind. Marginal deficiencies of many nutrients can cause subclinical depression and in turn impair memory.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):377-85.


July 27, 2009
Vitamin B-12 deficiency can manifest itself as short-term memory problems similar to early Alzheimer's disease. Taking a preventive B-12 supplement is recommended for those past their fifth decade of life.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2007 Mar-Apr;11(2):132-52.


July 28, 2009
Studies show that eating breakfast increases the speed and accuracy of information recall, an essential skill for top performance in school or on the job.
Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2009 Jan 31:1-7.


August 9, 2009
Having memory problems can become somewhat worrisome. But did you know that short-term memory problems can be caused by a deficiency in vitamin B-12? If you can't remember where you left your keys, have your physician check your B-12 level.
CMAJ. 2004 Aug 3;171(3):251-9.


August 28, 2009
A variety of nutrient deficiencies can affect brain function. For example, some cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have been linked with iron deficiency. Foods with readily absorbed iron include red meat and chicken thigh. Foods high in vitamin C enhance the absorption of iron from plant foods.
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004 Dec;158(12):1113-5.


September 10, 2009
Mental and physical performance can decline when people skip breakfast. A morning meal that includes a balanced mixture of carbohydrate, protein and fat can help to keep you alert without triggering the midmorning appetite.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):211-20.


September 25, 2009
The carbohydrate in starchy foods and fruits supports normal brain function. When reducing calories for weight loss, eating a moderate amount of carbohydrate and adequate protein promotes fat loss, inhibits muscle loss and helps lower weight over time.
Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Apr;53 Suppl 1:S107-11.


December 11, 2009
Fish oils contain omega-3 fatty acids that are needed by the brain and also may decrease the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jan 25;(1):CD005379


December 19, 2009
A hectic holiday schedule that makes you too rushed to eat and drink on your normal schedule can back-fire by triggering headaches.
National Headache Foundation


December 24, 2009
The brain needs a steady supply of energy for normal function. Its major fuel is glucose, a sugar molecule derived primarily from high carbohydrate foods like grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
Rev Neurol (Paris). 2004 Sep;160(8-9):767-92.


January 28, 2010
For a variety of reasons, some people poorly absorb vitamin B12. These individuals can benefit from monthly injections of the vitamin to prevent short-term memory loss that can mimic early Alzheimer disease.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 May;81(5):1155-62.


February 10, 2010
Vitamin B-12 deficiency can impair memory, decrease intellectual capacity, and cause emotional instability. Vegetarians are more prone to B-12 deficiency because only animal foods contain significant amounts of B-12.
Ann Nutr Metab. 2000;44(5-6):229-34.


March 3, 2010
Eating higher fat ocean fish like butterfish, kahala, salmon and sardines, provides the omega-3 fatty acids that are proving to be so important for maintaining many body functions, including vision and the function of the aging brain.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2004;8(3):163-74.


March 8, 2010
Leading a full life requires both a strong body and a healthy mind. Marginal deficiencies of many nutrients can contribute to subclinical depression and impaired memory.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):377-85.


March 23, 2010
The omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid, better known as DHA, is a major component of the brain. There is growing evidence that this fatty acid helps to preserve brain function during aging. Fatty fish are a rich food source of DHA.
J Nutr. 2009 Apr;139(4):804S-19S.


April 4, 2010
Researchers have found that several nutrient deficiencies are linked to depression. Ideally, part of the medical evaluation of depression should include a thorough nutritional assessment.
Biol Psychiatry. 2005 Nov 1;58(9):679-85.


May 6, 2010
It has been estimated that one out of seven people over age 65 lose the ability to absorb vitamin B-12 normally and are at risk of developing a deficiency.
Arch Intern Med. 2005 May 23;165(10):1167-72.


May 9, 2010
Skipping breakfast has been linked to decreased mental and physical performance. A balanced morning meal of foods that provide carbohydrate and protein works best for both the brain and the body.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):211-20.


May 12, 2010
Depression is a complex mental disease that sometimes may be triggered by limited nutrition. Several nutrients are required for normal brain function.
Biol Psychiatry. 2005 Nov 1;58(9):679-85.


May 15, 2010
Mental performance on exams can benefit from adequate sleep and moderate sized meals that are balanced and include some carbohydrate.
Br J Nutr. 1997 Apr;77 Suppl 1:S29-38.


May 25, 2010
The brain likes sugar. Its major source of energy is glucose (blood sugar). It uses about 400 calories of glucose every day. Sweet and starchy foods can both meet this need.
Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Apr;53 Suppl 1:S107-11.


June 9, 2010
Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that sugar does not cause increased aggressiveness and hyperactivity. In fact, a study of incarcerated teenage boys found that sugar had a calming effect and helped the boys to concentrate and pay attention.
Nutr Rev. 1994 May;52(5):173-5.


June 10, 2010
Several vitamin and mineral deficiencies can affect brain function and lead to psychological problems like depression. Adequate intake of essential nutrients from a balanced diet is the best protection. When that's not possible, dietary supplements can fill the gaps.
Rev Neurol (Paris). 2004 Sep;160(8-9):767-92.


June 28, 2010
Brain researchers report that eating fish a few times a week supports brain function in older people. They think that this is due to the omega-3 components of fish oil.
Neurology. 2008 Aug 5;71(6):439-46.


June 29, 2010
Good nutrition is required for a healthy mind and an active memory. The major energy supply for the brain is glucose, a sugar molecule best obtained from whole foods like grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables and some milk products.
Rev Neurol (Paris). 2004 Sep;160(8-9):767-92.


July 22, 2010
Short-term memory loss can be a sign of a vitamin B-12 deficiency? Since the ability to absorb B-12 from foods declines with age, it is commonly recommended that people over 50 years of age meet their B-12 needs with fortified foods or supplements.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2010;14(5):339-45.


July 26, 2010
Memory loss and vitamin B-12 deficiency are both common in those over 50. Since B-12 deficiency can cause memory problems, a thorough evaluation of vitamin B-12 status should be conducted in anyone who develops memory problems or other neurological symptoms.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2007 Mar-Apr;11(2):132-52.


July 28, 2010
Vitamin D is now known to be important in brain function. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with substantial cognitive decline in an older population studied over a 6-year period.
Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(13):1135-1141.


August 25, 2010
Depression and moodiness can result from nutrient deficiencies. In particular, deficient intake of folate, vitamins B-1, B-6, and B-12, iron, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids can adversely affect brain function.
Biol Psychiatry. 2005 Nov 1;58(9):679-85.


August 27, 2010
Breakfast benefits brain function. Research has repeatedly indicated that cognitive function is better when breakfast is not skipped. This effect is most pronounced in children and teens.
Nutr Res Rev. 2009 Dec;22(2):220-43.


September 5, 2010
Some people are so concerned with healthy eating that they have grown afraid of food. This condition, called “orthorexia nervosa,” can lead to a diet so narrow that it causes nutrient deficiencies that damage health.
Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2007 Dec;57(4):313-5.


September 15, 2010
Exercise programs can be effective in treating anxiety disorders and depression. This may not mean swapping professional treatment for a pair of running shoes, but daily exercise is likely to enhance the effects of other therapies.
Nord J Psychiatry. 2008;62 Suppl 47:25-9.


September 16, 2010
Our brain is a major part of our human individuality. Without adequate nutrition, many mental functions can be compromised. Consuming a balanced diet with all essential nutrients supports a healthy mind that can help us to fully express our uniqueness.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):377-85.


October 9, 2010
Vitamin B6, b12 and folate may be extremely important for protecting your brain from the typical damage that occurs with aging. A rich source of all three of these nutrients is liver.
PLoS One. 2010; 5(9): e12244.


October 22, 2010
Vitamin B12 deficiency can damage nerve cells and lead to memory loss similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research suggests that maintaining adequate B12 levels in the body may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Adequate B12 status also helps to prevent the misdiagnosis of B12 deficiency as Alzheimer’s disease.
Neurology 2010;75:1408-1414.


November 7, 2010
A balanced breakfast with a mixture of protein, carbohydrate, and fat can help to avoid that mid-morning dive in mental focus and the pre-lunch surge in appetite that are more likely to follow a high carbohydrate breakfast.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):211-20.


November 19, 2010
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appears to be increasing in the U.S. population. Researchers have proposed many potential causes, including nutrient deficiencies in zinc, iron, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Nutr Rev. 2008 Oct;66(10):558-68.


December 7, 2010
People who eat a diet rich in vitamin B12 may be protecting themselves from developing Alzheimer's disease. Vitamin B12 is found in eggs, fish, poultry and red meats or can be obtained in specially fortified foods and dietary supplements.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;19(2):481-8.


January 11, 2011
Although genetic factors affect the risk of neurodegenerative disorders, a number of studies also show that dietary factors play a major role in disorders of brain aging.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):386-99.


January 17, 2011
Need to avoid that afternoon decline in mental focus? Try chewing sugarless gum. There is evidence that chewing gum enhances brain function, possibly by increasing blood flow to the brain.
Br J Psychol. 2008 May;99(Pt 2):293-306.


February 3, 2011
Iron deficiency during late fetal development and early infancy causes irreversible damage to brain development and function. Using rats previously exposed to early iron deficiency, researchers found that treatment with low dose ritalin improved brain function much the same as it does in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) children.
Behav Brain Res. 2011 Jan 1;216(1):146-52.


March 3, 2011
Brain scanning techniques show that brain shrinkage is associated with mental function decline in older people. One study found that supplements of vitamin B12, B6, and folic acid helped to slow brain shrinkage. Other studies have demonstrated that vitamin B12 is especially important for maintaining brain and neural tissues.
PLoS One. 2010; 5(9): e12244.


May 15, 2011
A decrease in brain size is associated with a decline in mental function in older people. Those with high blood homocysteine levels generally experience a more rapid rate of brain atrophy. Supplementation with the B vitamins folate, B-6, and B-12 has been found to lower blood homocysteine levels and to help prevent the loss of brain mass.
PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (9): e12244 DOI:


July 13, 2011
The condition called panic disorder can be very debilitating. Triggered my extreme anxiety, the condition can cause symptoms that range from chest pains and shortness of breath to dizziness and trembling. Engaging in high levels of daily physical activity can significantly lessen panic sensations among victims of panic disorder.
Psychosom Med. 2011 Jul;73(6):498-503.


August 28, 2011
Present research indicates that a diet rich in the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) helps to reduce brain damage from ischemic strokes and enhance recovery. Fatty fish and special algae oils available in supplement form are excellent sources of DHA.
Stroke. 2011 Aug 18. [Epub ahead of print]


September 22, 2011
New research has established that zinc plays an essential role in the nerve function of a key memory and learning center of the brain called the hippocampus. Both adequate zinc in the diet and avoidance of too much zinc from excessive supplementation appear to be important for optimal function of these brain cells.
Neuron 2011;71(6):1116-1126.


September 28, 2011
A four and a half year study of 121 older people found that those with the lowest vitamin B-12 status experienced the greatest brain shrinkage and decline in cognitive function. The blood level of vitamin B-12 itself was not associated with cognitive problems or loss in brain volume, confirming that measuring other related blood factors is a better test of B-12 status.
Neurology. 2011 Sept 27;77(13):1276-1282.


October 7, 2011
Too much of a good thing isn’t always good. For example, high intake of calcium and vitamin D increased the risk of poor cognitive function in elderly.
Nutr Res. 2008 May;28(5):285-92.


November 26, 2011
A new review of over 140 studies on alcohol consumption confirms that heavy drinking (more than 3 or 4 drinks a day) is associated with an increased risk of dementia. However, light to moderate drinking seems to reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment in older people.
Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2011;7:465-84.


November 29, 2011
Want a better night’s sleep? A study of over 3000 people found that those who met current physical activity guidelines had better quality sleep and less leg cramps while sleeping. Current guidelines include at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity weekly.
Mental Health Phys Act. 2011 Dec;4(2):65-69.


December 2, 2011
How you prepare your fish may affect your brain over time. Brain scans on 260 healthy adults showed that consuming baked or broiled fish weekly was associated with a brain composition typical of those with a lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Fried fish did not have the same protective effect.
Radiological Society of North America Annual Meeting 2011


December 9, 2011
Final exam week can be a mental endurance event for college students this time of the year. To optimize mental performance on exams, it helps to get adequate sleep and consume moderate sized meals that are balanced and include some carbohydrate to help maintain a stable level of blood glucose.
Br J Nutr. 1997 Apr;77 Suppl 1:S29-38.


December 17, 2011
Research into mechanisms that explain how coffee consumption may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease has identified caffeine as one of the protective factors. However, there is at least one other unidentified preventive substance in coffee according to studies with mouse models.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;25(2):323-35.


January 2, 2012
A study of 56 elderly women (age 64 to 82) found that 16 weeks of taking a dietary supplement containing multiple vitamins, minerals, and herbal components, enhanced various aspects of memory. It is not known what components of the multi-component supplement may have affected mental functions.
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2011 Oct 18. [Epub ahead of print]


January 6, 2012
The common age-related decline in mental function is associated with a decrease in brain size. Older people with good vitamin and omega-3 fatty acid status tend to maintain better mental function and have less brain shrinkage.
Neurology. 2011 Dec 28. [Epub ahead of print]


January 23, 2012
Several nutrient deficiencies are known to adversely affect brain and neurological development. A recent study found that low iron status in teenagers had an impact on the nerve structure of their brains that persisted into the early adult years.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jan 9. [Epub ahead of print]


February 4, 2012
The causes of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia that commonly occur with aging are poorly understood. A study of over 5000 older people found that higher intake of foods rich in vitamin E modestly reduced the long-term risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Arch Neurol. 2010;67(7):819-825. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2010.144


February 9, 2012
As people get older, their calorie needs generally decline. Consequently, total food intake typically drops to match lower energy needs and most nutrients are consumed in reduced amounts. When the intake of vitamins B-6 and B-12 decline, it increases the risk of developing depression.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Aug;92(2):330-5.


February 27, 2012
Another good reason to include green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains in your diet is to meet your needs for the mineral magnesium. A new meta-analysis review of research found that people are less likely to have a stroke if their diet provides plenty of magnesium.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Feb;95(2):362-6.


March 12, 2012
Like other parts of the body, the brain is subject to damage by oxidation reactions. Berries are among the wide variety of foods that provide protective phytochemicals that protect brain cells from this type of damage.
J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Feb 3. [Epub ahead of print]


April 12, 2012
Based on military research, low blood levels of the fish oil types of fatty acids is associated with a greater risk of suicide. Supplementing soldiers with these fatty acids was shown to achieve substantial reduction in markers of suicidal behavior and to improve overall well-being.
Br J Psychiatry. 2007 Feb;190:118-22.


April 26, 2012
Aerobic exercise appears to benefit cardiovascular health and new research indicates that strength training twice a week can enhance brain function in older people. Including both types of exercise in the weekly routine appears to be ideal for aging healthfully.
Neurobiol Aging. 2011 Jul 6. [Epub ahead of print]


May 5, 2012
A greater intake of dietary omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. In a study of over 1000 people, those who consumed the most omega-3 fatty acids had lower blood levels of the beta-amyloid peptide that is known to accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
Neurology, 2012 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318258f7c2


June 11, 2012
Estimates indicate that 10 to 20 percent of women experience serious depression after giving birth. A common cause of this appears to be low iron status. Experts recommend iron tests shortly before or early in pregnancy by measuring levels of an iron-containing protein called ferritin to determine if iron supplementation is warranted.
Ann Nutr Metab. 2011;59(1):50-4.


September 16, 2012
Almost 60 percent of the brain is made up of an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA. This highly unsaturated fatty acid is highly susceptible to oxidative damage. Consequently, an adequate intake of antioxidant substances commonly found in fruits and vegetables may help to protect the brain.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;29(3):561-9.


September 28, 2012
Feeling bored? Researchers are working to better understand what that means. With good ways to measure boredom, we may be able to develop an understanding of nutritional factors that could predispose one to boredom. Many nutrients, such as some B vitamins, iron, and zinc, are involved in a variety of brain functions.
Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2012; 7 (5): 482-495.


October 13, 2012
A study of just over a thousand 45 to 65 year-old men in Finland found that those with the highest blood levels of the carotenoid lycopene (especially high in tomatoes) had the lowest risk of stroke. Blood levels beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, vitamin E and vitamin A were not related to the risk of strokes.
Neurology. 2012;79(15):1540-1547.


October 28, 2012
Brain shrinkage has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and problems with thinking and memory. Although using the brain seems to help maintain its function, staying physically active appears to be potentially more important for preventing brain shrinkage and associated functional decline.
Neurology. 2012 Oct 23;79(17):1802-1808.


November 20, 2012
Herbal extracts can have powerful drug effects and need to be used with proper guidance. For example, animal studies indicate that oregano extract can affect brain neurotransmitter levels. A recent human study found that this extract induced a state of wakeful relaxation, enhanced vigilance, and improved concentration and mental capacity. Yes, more research is needed to confirm this!
2012 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. New Orleans, LA: Society for Neuroscience, 2012. Online.


November 26, 2012
Postpartum depression, at least in part, may be due to the mother having a diet too low in the omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in fish oils. The fatty acid needs of the infant during pregnancy and breastfeeding can significantly lower the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in a woman's body.
Can J Psychiatry. 2012 Nov;57(11):704-12.


December 8, 2012
The cognitive decline caused by vitamin B-12 deficiency can be similar to Alzheimer's disease symptoms. New evidence indicates that even ongoing mild vitamin B-12 deficiency status can accelerate mental decline. B-12 status should always be checked in older people who are experiencing changes in mental function.
J Am Geriatr Soc 60:1457-1464, 2012.


December 29, 2012
Are you too busy using your brain to exercise your body? A sedentary lifestyle may make your brain function less effectively. It appears that physical activity plays an important role in maintaining good brain function.
Nature. 2004 Nov 18;432(7015):345-52.


January 11, 2013
In a study of over 250,000 people, those consuming the most sweet flavored beverages (both diet and regular sodas and sweet fruit drinks) were more likely to develop depression during a 10-year follow-up period. Those drinking coffee had a reduced risk. These associations may prove to be linked to other independent factors that were not evaluated in this study.
Am Acad Neurology press release, Jan 8, 2013.


January 26, 2013
Eating a so-called Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, wine and olive oil is often associated with better cardiovascular health. However, a rigorous study conducted in France did not find any benefit to the function of the aging brain. Clearly more research is needed about the connection between diet and brain function.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb;97(2):369-376.


January 27, 2013
Including plenty of fruits and vegetables in a varied diet is commonly recommended for good physical health. This practice also appears to benefit emotional well-being.
Br J Health Psychol. 2013 Jan 24. [Epub ahead of print]


February 15, 2013
Maintaining optimal brain function throughout life requires an adequate intake of many nutrients. Some of the key nutrients important all the way from embryonic development to old age are folate, vitamin B12, choline, and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.
J Nutr. 2013 Feb 6. [Epub ahead of print]


February 27, 2013
Regular exercise has been shown to help prevent depression. A new study found that this also is true for a specific high risk group - people who have had bariatric surgery.
J Psychosom Res. 2013 Feb;74(2):161-9.


April 29, 2013
Based on the results of a recent rat study, whether you exercise for fun or because you feel forced to exercise, regular exercise can improve the capacity to deal with anxiety and stress.
Eur J Neurosci. 2013 Feb;37(3):469-78.


May 4, 2013
The cocoa polyphenol compounds found in chocolate and a wide variety of other plant foods provide antioxidant effects in the body that appear to help prevent degeneration of brain function with aging. New research indicates that these polyphenols also trigger the synthesis of a specific protein that is known to protect brain cells and slow mental decline.
J Cell Biochem. 2013 Mar 28. [Epub ahead of print]


May 24, 2013
Compounds in cinnamon (cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin) may prove to be helpful in preventing the development of Alzheimer's disease. However, this does not mean that we should all be adding cinnamon to our diets in large amounts or taking cinnamon supplements. Most commercial cinnamon is high in a compound called coumarin which is hard on the liver and can interfere with "blood thinning" medications.
Alzheimers Dis. 2013 Mar 26. [Epub ahead of print]


May 30, 2013
Inadequate iron nutrition during critical stages of development can have a life-long impact on the brain, affecting mental and emotional function. A Swedish study of otherwise healthy marginally low birth weight infants found that early iron supplementation of these infants (between 6 weeks and 6 months of age) significantly reduced the prevalence of behavioral problems observed at 3.5 years of age.
Pediatrics. 2013 Jan;131(1):47-55.


June 9, 2013
Participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to enhance mental function. A new study compared a 20-minute bout of yoga to 20 minutes of moderate intensity jogging and found that after yoga the participants were better able to ". . . process information quickly, more accurately and also learn, hold and update pieces of information more effectively than after performing an aerobic exercise bout," according to the researchers.
J Phys Act Health. 2013 May;10(4):488-95. Epub 2012 Jul 9.


June 17, 2013
Although high blood pressure receives much more attention than low blood pressure, studies have shown that both high and low blood pressure are associated with brain shrinkage with age. In particular, studies in older people have shown a relation between low blood pressure and more brain loss.
JAMA Neurol. June 2013. [Epub ahead of print]


July 3, 2013
Adequate iron nutrition is essential for normal brain development and for the function of iron-dependent enzymes involved in neurotransmitter synthesis. Perhaps not surprisingly, a new study conducted in Taiwan found that children and teens with iron deficiency anemia were much more likely to be diagnosed with psychiatric conditions such as bipolar and autism spectrum disorders.
BMC Psychiatry. 2013 Jun 4;13:161.


July 24, 2013
Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency are obvious only at very low intake of the vitamin. However, chronically low intake of vitamin E may compromise brain function along with other potential problems. Many people do not meet current recommendations for the vitamin.
Annu Rev Nutr. 2013 Jul 17. [Epub ahead of print]


September 13, 2013
A new breakthrough in aging research found that mice that produced higher levels of the Sirt1 protein in specific regions of the brain functioned better and lived longer. This is the same protein that increases during caloric restriction. Finding other ways to increase this protein in the brain may lead to new ways to extend the human lifespan.
Cell Metab. 2013;18(3):416-430.


September 14, 2013
Cognitive decline often occurs in people with Type 2 Diabetes. It now appears that this is due to brain shrinkage. It is not known why this occurs, however, the mental decline is similar to that seen in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
Diabetes Care. 2013 Aug 12. [Epub ahead of print]


September 21, 2013
A Finnish study of over 2000 men followed for 13 to 20 years found that the risk of depression was lowest in men that had a healthy dietary pattern that met nutrient needs. Coffee consumption also was linked with a reduced risk of depression.
Doctoral Dissertation: Diet is associated with the risk of depression


October 25, 2013
Although caffeine in coffee and tea may benefit adults in various ways, the same does not appear to apply to children and adolescents. A rat model indicates that caffeine consumption during critical developmental periods can have long lasting adverse effects on sleep and brain development.
PLoS One. 2013 Sep 4;8(9):e72539.


October 29, 2013
Even in the absence of type 2 diabetes mellitus or impaired glucose tolerance, new research indicates that chronically higher blood glucose levels can adversely affect memory, possibly due to structural changes in learning-relevant brain areas. Strategies (such as regular physical activity) aimed at lowering glucose levels even within the normal or pre-diabetic ranges may help to protect cognitive function with aging.
Neurology. 2013 Oct 23. [Epub ahead of print]


November 3, 2013
In mentally processing words, especially new ones, people mentally "mouth" the words which seems to help remember them. However, if the mouth is busy chewing, people don't remember the words as well, apparently because the mouth is mentally busy with a task that competes with mouthing the words.
J Consumer Psych. 29 September 2013. [Epub ahead of print]


November 12, 2013
A detailed study on protein deficiency using a rat model found that protein deficiency not only impaired growth, but brain function as well. A chronic protein deficiency impaired learning, memory and cognitive function. The results of the study, conducted by researchers in India, supported observations of the impact of protein deficiency on malnourished children in India.
PLoS One. 2013 Oct 3;8(10):e76556.


November 17, 2013
Certain types of gut bacteria produce chemicals that can affect brain function. Researchers are exploring the use of certain types of probiotic bacteria that may be used in cultured foods such as yogurt to treat conditions like depression.
Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Nov 15;74(10):720-6.


January 4, 2014
Although currently there are no proven ways to prevent or cure Alzheimer's disease, a recent study found that supplementing the diet of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease with vitamin E (2000 IU/day of alpha tocopherol) helped to slow progression of the disease.
JAMA. 2014 Jan 1;311(1):33-44. doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.282834.


January 7, 2014
A new study reports that depression is associated with lower blood levels of zinc. Good food sources of zinc include beef, crab, pork, and fortified breakfast cereals.
Biological Psych. 20133;74(12):872-878.


March 14, 2014
Derived from fish and some algae oils, the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a major component of the brain and other neural tissues in the body. In a controlled trial with children who had sleeping problems, a DHA supplement improved the children's sleep significantly. Larger studies are needed to confirm this effect of DHA.
J Sleep Res. 8 MAR 2014. [Epub ahead of print]


May 13, 2014
A study of women age 70 and older found that those who typically slept significantly less or more than average were more likely to have impaired mental function.
J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014 May 1. [Epub ahead of print]


August 1, 2014
Fish Oils and Alzheimer's: Fish oils are rich in a fatty acid (DHA) that is found at very high levels in the brain. New evidence indicates that supplemental intake of fish oils may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimers Dement. 2014 Jun 18. [Epub ahead of print]


November 4, 2014
Cocoa Flavanols and Memory: A study of healthy older people (age 50 to 69) found that three months of supplementation with a high cocoa flavanol extract (900 mg of cocoa flavanols per day) reversed measures of age-related memory decline. This small, but promising study needs confirmation from larger studies, along with identification of the types of flavanols that may provide positive effects on brain function.
Nat Neurosci. 2014 Oct 26. [Epub ahead of print]


November 14, 2014
High-fat Diet and Brain Aging: Using a mouse model of an accelerated aging condition called Cockayne syndrome, researchers found that a high fat (low carbohydrate) diet postponed the aging process in these animals. It remains to be seen if this approach has merit for people with this disease or other related conditions.
Cell Metabolism. November 2014. [Epub Ahead of Print]


November 19, 2014
Folate and B12 in Aging: Vitamin B12 deficiency is known to cause neural damage and compromise brain function. A study of almost 3000 people age 65 and older (with high blood homocysteine levels) found that two years of supplementation with folate and vitamin B12 reduced homocysteine levels more than a placebo, but did not have any measurable benefit to scores on thinking and memory tests. This is not surprising in this study because the B12 status of study participants taking the placebo was the same as those taking the supplement.
Neurology. 2014 Nov 12. [Epub ahead of print]


December 18, 2014
Blood Glucose Control and Brain Health: A large study that followed over 13,000 people for 20 years, found that those with diabetes or poor blood glucose control during their middle-age years were much more likely to experience late-life cognitive decline. This is another good reason to keep daily physical activity in your life. It helps to maintain balanced blood glucose control.
Ann Intern Med. 2014 Dec 2;161(11):785-93.


March 17, 2015
Age-related Brain Decline and Mobility: Small areas of damage in the brain that are visible on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are common in older people. This type of brain damage has been linked to problems with basic movements such as walking. However, a new study found that older people who remained more physically active did not have a decline in their movement abilities even when they did have high levels of brain damage.So, keep moving!
Neurology. 2015 Mar 11. pii: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001417. [Epub ahead of print]


March 26, 2015
Milk and Brain Health: Researchers used a high-tech brain scanning technique on older adults to measure brain levels of an antioxidant synthesized in the body (glutathione). They found that its concentrations were higher in those with greater consumption of milk products. They speculated that dairy foods may provide the brain with the precursors needed for glutathione synthesis. More research is needed to prove this.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Feb;101(2):287-93.


April 13, 2015
Body Mass Index and Dementia: Surprising results from a study of almost two million people indicate that underweight people had a 39% greater risk of developing dementia compared with those with a normal healthy weight. The bigger surprise, overweight people had an 18% reduction in dementia and obese people had 24% less risk. Since overweight and obesity increase the risk for other diseases, the clearest message from this research is to maintain a healthy weight - not too high or too low.
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. 2015 April 10. [Epub ahead of print]


May 31, 2015
Strictly speaking, there is no dietary requirement for carbohydrate. However, the brain prefers glucose for its metabolic fuel and each day uses about 400 calories of the blood sugar glucose. For this reason, some carbohydrate sources are recommended in all prudent diets.
Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Apr;53 Suppl 1:S107-11.


July 11, 2015
Memory and Vitamin B12: Short term memory problems are often attributed to that "senior moment." But did you know that short-term memory loss can be a sign of a vitamin B-12 deficiency? Ask you physician for a B-12 check-up.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):377-85.


July 26, 2015
A full life requires not only a strong body but also a healthy mind. Marginal deficiencies of many nutrients can cause subclinical depression and in turn impair memory.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):377-85.


August 14, 2015
Dementia Treatment and Weight Loss: Common drugs used for dementia treatment (cholinesterase inhibitors) were found to increase the risk of excessive weight loss in older people. The reason for this association is not clear, but awareness of this potential problem is important for those working with people who have various types of dementia.
J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015 Aug 3. [Epub ahead of print]


August 26, 2015
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Brain Aging: Some research has found that those who consume more of the fish oil type long-chain omega-3 fatty acids maintain better brain function with aging. However, a new large well-designed placebo-controlled study found that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids did not benefit cognitive function. One limitation of this study of people mostly in their mid-70s is that it followed people for 5 years and cannot predict the outcome over a longer period of time.
JAMA. 2015;314(8):791-801.


October 3, 2015
Memory and Nutrition: Mental functions can be noticeably affected by inadequate nutrition. Good nutrition is the first step to a healthy mind and an active memory.
Rev Neurol (Paris). 2004 Sep;160(8-9):767-92.


November 3, 2015
Exercise and the Aging Brain: Physical activity is known to reduce the cognitive decline commonly seen in older people. Studies with exercising mice indicate that starting an exercise program in middle age is likely to help protect the brain against changes associated with mental decline later in life.
PLOS Biology, 2015; 13 (10): e1002279.


November 24, 2015
Breakfast and School Performance: A new study of 5,000 nine to eleven year old children found that those who consumed breakfast had higher scores on measures of educational performance - more support for breakfast being an important meal for growing children.
Public Health Nutr. 2015 Sep 28:1-8. [Epub ahead of print]


December 2, 2015
Nutrition and Dementia: Many life factors may contribute to the development of cognitive decline and dementia with aging. However, nutrition plays a much greater role in maintaining brain health than often is appreciated. For example, vitamin B12 deficiency, common in older people, can cause symptoms virtually identical to early Alzheimer's disease. Meeting many other essential nutrient needs throughout life is important for ongoing brain health.
Lancet. 2015 Sep 5;386(9997):1008-10.


January 5, 2016
Eating Time and Mental Function: There is evidence that eating during our usual sleeping time of the day can affect physiological and biochemical functions involved in learning and memory. An innovative mouse study found that feeding mice only during their usual sleeping time of day altered function in specific parts of the brain in ways that adversely affected learning and memory.
eLife, 2015; 4 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.09460


January 21, 2016
B12 Deficiency in Elderly: Based on blood levels of vitamin B12, Canadian researchers found that almost 14 per cent of elderly adults entering long-term care facilities were deficient in the vitamin. This is likely an underestimate of the incidence because there are better tests for vitamin B12 status assessment (methylmalonic acid levels). B12 malabsorption is common at this stage of life and the form of vitamin B12 in natural food sources is very poorly absorbed. Consequently, B12 injections or high dose supplementation is needed to return B12 status to normal.
Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016 19 January. [Epub ahead of print]


January 30, 2016
Memory and Nutrition: For a variety of reasons, some people poorly absorb vitamin B12. These individuals can benefit from monthly injections of the vitamin to prevent short-term memory loss that can mimic early Alzheimer disease.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 May;81(5):1155-62.


February 8, 2016
Iron and ADHD: MRI assessment of brain iron levels may be a good tool in the assessment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, the relationship between blood levels of iron and brain levels is complex and needs more study to determine if nutritional deficiency of iron plays a causative role in ADHD.
Biomark. Med. 2015; 9(5):403–406.


March 12, 2016
Adequate Essential Nutrients Needed: Leading a full life requires both a strong body and a healthy mind. Marginal deficiencies of many nutrients can contribute to subclinical depression and impaired memory.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):377-85.


April 3, 2016
Nutrition and Mental Health: Researchers have found that several nutrient deficiencies are linked to depression. Ideally, part of the medical evaluation of depression should include a thorough nutritional assessment.
Biol Psychiatry. 2005 Nov 1;58(9):679-85.


April 29, 2016
Diabetes and Brain: Over time, diabetes is known to have negative effects on brain function. A 10-year study was conducted on people with diabetes (45 to 76 years of age). It was found that those who lost weight and exercised by participating in an intensive lifestyle intervention program had less measurable impact on changes in brain structure than those in a less rigorous educational program. Additional research is needed to see if this translates into less cognitive decline.
Diabetes Care. March 29, 2016.


July 21, 2016
Nutrition and Social Development in Children: A study of over 1500 3-year old children found that physical signs of deficiency of protein, niacin, riboflavin, or iron were strong predictors of impaired social behavior skills. Consuming a variety of foods from all of the key food groups greatly increases the odds of meeting all essential nutrient needs.
Matern Child Nutr. 2016 May 1. [Epub ahead of print]


August 16, 2016
Breakfast and Academic Performance in Children: Many studies have indicated improved academic performance in children who consume breakfast. This has supported the National School Breakfast Program that provides free and reduced price breakfasts to students from families with a low income. Now, an analysis of academic achievement levels of students found that academic achievement is higher in schools that offer the School Breakfast Program.
J Public Econ. 2015 Apr 1;124:91-104.


August 17, 2016
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Alzheimer's Disease: A new study found that higher blood levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA were associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's Disease based on a variety of brain measurements related to the disease. DHA is one of the two key omega-3 fatty acids that are high in fish oils and in some special algae oils.
JAMA Neurol. August 08, 2016. [Epub ahead of print]


August 19, 2016
Nutrition and Mental Health: It is well known that normal brain function is the product of complex biochemistry that involves many chemicals, including essential nutrients. Nutritional psychiatry is a growing field of study that aims to include nutrient considerations along with all other aspects of psychiatry such as pharmacology.
Lancet Psychiatry. 2015 Jul;2(7):e19.


September 20, 2016
Vitamin B12 and Brain: A study of 100 people (age 50 to 80 years), who were getting care for memory problems, found that those with the lowest vitamin B12 status had the most impaired memory and learning ability. This relationship was observed even in those with blood values for B12 status assessment that were low, but within what is typically considered to be normal.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Apr;103(4):1045-54.


October 6, 2016
Caffeine and Dementia: A study following over 6000 women 65 years of age and older for about 10 years found that those who consumed the most caffeine were less likely to develop dementia and cognitive impairment. Although the association observed in this study cannot conclude a cause and effect relationship, it provides a basis for additional research.
J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016 Sep 27. [Epub ahead of print]


October 9, 2016
B Vitamins and Brain Health: Vitamin B6, b12 and folate may be extremely important for protecting your brain from the typical damage that occurs with aging. A rich source of all three of these nutrients is liver.
PLoS One. 2010; 5(9): e12244.


October 11, 2016
Vitamin D and ADHD: At two and a half years of age, children were less likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) if their mothers took vitamin D supplements during pregnancy and had good vitamin D status when the child was born. Another study found a similar association between iron supplementation during pregnancy and reduced risk of having an autistic child. Iron deficiency can lower measures of vitamin D status, so each of these nutrients may complement the other. Meeting all nutrient needs during pregnancy is likely the most important take-home message.
Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2016 Sep 30. [Epub ahead of print]


October 23, 2016
Vitamin B12 deficiency can damage nerve cells and lead to memory loss similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research suggests that maintaining adequate B12 levels in the body may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Adequate B12 status also helps to prevent the misdiagnosis of B12 deficiency as Alzheimer’s disease.
Neurology 2010;75:1408-1414.


October 27, 2016
Alcohol, Caffeine, and the Adolescent Brain: The effects of drugs on the brains of adolescent mice have been shown to be similar to the effects on the teenage brain of humans. A new study that exposed adolescent mice to the combination of caffeine and alcohol found that the effects were similar to exposing them to cocaine.
Alcohol. 2016 Aug;54:1-9.


January 12, 2017
Dietary Cholesterol and Dementia: With the relatively recent awareness that dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol levels, it is widely accepted that dietary cholesterol does not significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, a new study conducted in Finland found that neither cholesterol nor egg intake was associated with the risk of dementia or Alzheimer's Disease. Instead, moderate egg intake appeared to have a beneficial association with certain types of cognitive performance.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Jan 4. [Epub ahead of print]


January 22, 2017
Brain Development and Iron: Several nutrient deficiencies are known to adversely affect brain development. Research shows that a low iron status in teenagers has an impact on the nerve structure of their brains that can persist into the early adult years.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Apr 3;109(14):E851-9.


January 24, 2017
Iron Deficiency and Mental Performance: A study conducted with about 100 female college students, age 18-35 years, analyzed the association of iron status and fitness level with GPA. They found that the GPA was significantly greater in women with good iron status (ferritin at least 20 mcg/L). Although higher level fitness was associated with better GPAs, those who had a high level of fitness, but were iron deficient, tended to have lower GPAs than unfit women who had good iron status.
J Nutr. 2017 Jan;147(1):104-109.


March 15, 2017
Caffeine and Dementia: Research has linked caffeine consumption with a reduced risk of developing dementia like Alzheimer's Disease. New research with a cell culture model found that caffeine among other substances enhanced the activity of a key protective enzyme that protects against decline in brain function.
Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 7;7:43846.


March 18, 2017
Exercise to Lower Depression: Exercise programs have been found to be good treatment for some types of depression. A recent study on older people with depression found that even a gentle exercise like tai chi significantly improves the success of standard therapy for depression.
Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Mar 6. [Epub ahead of print]


March 23, 2017
Insulin Resistance and Mental Decline: With older age and sedentary lifestyle, many cells in the body can become less sensitive to insulin. This requires the pancreas to produce more insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood into cells. New research reports that those who develop insulin resistance with age are more likely to experience mental decline. This is another good reason to stay physically active and maintain a healthy body weight with age.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2017 Mar 10. [Epub ahead of print]