B6

  1. Easy and inexpensive ways to boost your brainpower

    Want to be smart? Follow your mother's advice and don't forget to take your vitamins -- because even the basics can deliver noticeable and almost immediate benefits.

    No part of the body responds quicker to good nutrition than the brain, and a series of new studies show how quality supplements can give you the boost you've been looking for in a matter of weeks -- helping you to think sharper, quicker, and better than ever.

    Start with the second letter of the alphabet -- B vitamins.

    In one of the studies, men given a high-dose B complex for 33 days improved on tests measuring mood, stress, and cognitive performance, and reported being less "mentally tired" after taking those tests.

    The study was on men, but I have no doubt the benefits would apply to women as well because B vitamins such as B6, B12, and folate have proven time and again to help protect the brain.

    But they're also water soluble, which means your body doesn't store them. They literally go right through you -- in your mouth and out your urine, which is why it's not enough to get them only some of the time.

    You need to make sure you get them every single day.

    Along with those B vitamins, be sure to take a quality multi -- because another recent study found that women who took them for nine weeks had a boost in multitasking abilities.

    More specifically, they had improved accuracy and faster responses while multitasking… and, as a bonus, they had lower levels of the inflammation marker homocysteine.

    Again, there's no reason these benefits wouldn't apply to men and women alike. Just make sure your multivitamin comes from a maker you trust, and not the local dollar store.

    And while you're at it, be sure to take some fish oil. The omega-3 fatty acids are great for the brain, especially DHA. In one recent study, adults who took between 1 and 2 grams of DHA a day saw improvements in blood flow in the brain while engaged in cognitive tasks.

    Of course, none of these supplements are miracle pills. They're not going to magically undo the damage of an unhealthy lifestyle, but they're an important part of the big picture -- both in the short term and over the long haul.

    Your own needs will depend on your diet, lifestyle, and even genetic factors that might make it more difficult for you to hold onto certain nutrients. A holistic doctor can run some tests to help you figure you which ones you need, how much you need, and the best way to get them.

  2. Feed your brain some fat

    There are plenty of places on the body where you definitely don't want fat building up.

    Hello, gut.

    But there's one place you want as fat as can be, and that's right inside your skull. Your brain is actually 60 percent fat -- and the most critical fats of all when it comes to brain health are the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil.

    Now, a new study confirms just how important those fats are for your thinker: People with the lowest levels have aging, shrinking brains and problems remembering what they had for breakfast.

    Since the most prominent fat in your brain is DHA, the study of 1,575 dementia-free seniors also finds that it's the most important one for brain health. The 25 percent with the lowest blood levels of DHA had the smallest brain volumes.

    And, yes -- when it comes to brains, bigger is definitely better.

    Younger is better, too. And while you can't turn back the clock, your brain can get old before its time -- and seniors with the lowest DHA levels had brains that seemed two years older, according to the study in Neurology.

    That's what's going on inside the head.

    Out in the real world, seniors with the lowest omega-3 levels did worse on just about every test thrown their way -- including tests on visual memory as well as executive functions such as problem-solving, multitasking, and abstract thought.

    Along with charging your thinking cap, omega-3 fatty acids can also help slash your risk of heart problems, stroke, macular degeneration, and more. They can even lower your risk of gum disease.

    But let's stick to the brain today.

    In addition to those omega-3s, be sure to get plenty of B vitamins. Studies have shown that seniors who get high levels of B6, B12 and folate have bigger brains, better memory, and more overall protection from dementia's top risk factors.

    You can read more about that B vitamin and dementia link right here.

    Meats tend to be richest in B vitamins, but the best way to get what your brain needs is with a quality B complex from a trusted vitamin maker.

    Similarly, you can get omega-3 fatty acids from a diet rich in fatty fish -- but since most people don't eat nearly enough salmon, herring, and anchovies, add an omega-3 supplement to your shopping list if you're not taking one already.

    For one more way to power up your grey matter, keep reading.

  3. The incredible shrinking brain

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    Now, a new study finds that the loss of brain mass found in Alzheimer's patients might actually be detectable up to a decade before the telltale signs of the disease appear.

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