5 Powerful Brain Buffs
Buff: A term generically used in many MMORPGs to describe an effect (usually cast as a spell) which beneficially enhances the target Player.
Fish Oil – Fortitude
The evidence for fish oil’s benefits to the brain, as well as a wide range of other bodily functions and conditions, just keeps piling up. Yet another recent study demonstrates dramatic improvement in academic performance in Junior High students. The Omega 3 oils in fish (DHA and EPA) have been found to control the inflammation that causes chronic health problems like arthritis, fend off depression, prevent cognitive decline, and behavioral problems, improve memory, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and address other health issues, such as macular degeneration, and menstrual pain. This single nutrient has to be the king of brain buffs.
But don’t be fooled. Manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon, marketing omega 3 in their food products, but in many cases this is omega 3 derived from plants (ALA) rather than marine sources (DHA/EPA). This exacerbates the problem. Omega 3 ALA is converted in the body into omega 6 —only a low percent of ALA actually converts into DHA (2-5%) and EPA (5-10%.) And part of the reason fish oil is so important is that the ideal balance of omega 6 to omega 3 should be 1 to 1. In our modern diets, this ratio is more like 20 to 1 in favor of ALA. This is primarily due to the pervasive presence of vegetable oil in most of our processed foods. Even if the label says Omega 3 and lists DHA and EPA, check to see if the source isn’t seed oil.
High quality fish oil does not taste fishy, it’s actually relatively tasteless. Look for something that you can take 2-6 grams of DHA+EPA in a reasonable dose (e.g. one tablespoon, or two pills, should give you over 1 gram.) Studies at the University of Minnesota have found that emulsified fish oil is absorbed 71% better than capsules. If you can’t find a product that meets these criteria at your local health store, we recommend Twinlab’s Omega-3 Emulsified Fish Oil. If you are using fish oil to lose fat, the dosage used in most studies was 6 grams. Take fish oil with food so that it’s not metabolized for energy.
Curcumin – Shield
If your brain is handling the same stuff but working a lot harder than it used to, it may need de-gunking. Amyloid buildup is a natural process of aging, creating protein plaque deposits in the brain that start accumulating in mid-life. Full blown Alzheimer’s exhibits this in its extreme form, but even milder manifestations can effect your efficiency and mental reserves. Curcumin, the active ingredient in curry, is a powerful defense. It’s probably not too surprising that Asian Indians, who consume this spice as part of their daily diet, have Alzheimer’s and other senile dementia rates that are only 25% of those in the developed world. It’s been used for over 3000 years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and exhibits remarkable qualities as an antioxidant.
Dosage: 800-1,600mg; take it with food or it could eventually upset your stomach. Choose a brand with Bioperine (from black pepper) to enhance the bioavailability of Curcumin.
Acetyl-L-carnitine and Alpha Lipoic Acid – Renew
Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is found naturally in animal products, but not in quantities that do much for you. ALC is a key in building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, responsible for learning and memory, in addition to boosting the metabolism of cells.
Dr. Ray Sahelia, in his book Mind Boosters, offers the following observation about ALC
I notice the effects of ALC within two hours after taking a 500mg pill; these effects are arousal and vigilance, along with mood improvement, and can last most of the day.
ALC can “jump-start” the brain and improves spatial learning, long-term memory and discriminatory learning.
One problem with ALC, however, is that increasing mitochondrial activity creates more oxidative damage. But when combined with a powerful antioxidant: Alpha Lipoic Acid, the results were astonishing, at least in rats:
After a month on the supplements, elderly (24-month-old) and lethargic rats had more energy and did better on memory tests, while their mitochondria worked better. The decline in overall activity typical of aged rats was reversed to the level of young-to-middle-aged adult rats, aged 7-10 months. The researchers likened this result to a group of 80-year-old humans throwing away their walking sticks and starting to act 35 years younger!
Curiously enough, the combination of these two nutrients has now been patented. While human studies have supported the animal studies, with ALC/ALA eventually slowing down and even reversing mitochondrial decline, it’s being advocated as a long term investment for health, rather than a quick fix for age reversal. It also has been discovered to increase communication between hemispheres of the brain.
Vinpocetine – Clarity
Ginkgo biloba never quite panned out as a brain booster, very little research could validate its anecdotal claims. Vinpocetine, however, is widely used Europe where physicians believe it is far more effective than other supplements – such as ginkgo biloba. Its use for memory and brain functions has been extensively researched. Clinical studies found it enhanced memory, increased cognitive performance and improved cerebral circulation. Vinpocetine is a derivative of an alkaloid found in the periwinkle plant.
Author Beth M. Ley describes the following study in her book Vinpocetine:
In a German study 40 healthy volunteers were given 40mg of vinpocetine daily for 2 days. This brief course resulted in a significant improvement in memory as assessed by the Sternberg Memory Scanning Test. This study suggests that in normal, healthy people, vinpocetine can enhance memory, and can do so quickly.
If you started taking vinpocetine, how soon should you see results? Seven to ten days.
Take one 5mg tablet two or three times daily (up to two tablets, three times daily).
A daily program with these proven supplements should make a significant difference in the functions and longevity of your brain —so buff up ftw!
Buff icons from World of Warcraft Screenshots.World of Warcraft ©2004-2007 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.