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. B vitamins beat dementia

    I know plenty of seniors who would pop pretty much any pill -- risks and costs be damned -- if it meant they'd never have to battle Alzheimer's disease.

    But it turns out they may not have to face any risks at all to get a leg up on dementia -- because the latest research confirms that simple, safe and widely available B vitamins can dramatically slow the rate of cognitive decline.

    Researchers gave 266 men and women older than 70 either a placebo or a blend of B vitamins -- 0.5mg of B12, 0.8mg of folic acid, and 20mg of vitamin B6 -- and tracked them for two years.

    Those who got the real vitamins did 70 percent better on memory tests than those who took the placebo. They improved in just about every way, with real boosts in semantic memory (the memory of facts and concepts) as well as overall global cognition.

    And the biggest boost of all came in "episodic memory," or the part of the mind we use to remember our daily tasks. That's the first part of the mind to go in dementia patients, so you can see why these results are so exciting.

    The good news doesn't stop there: In some cases, patients who were already battling memory lapses before the study actually improved their memory after two years of B vitamins.

    The researchers say the biggest benefits were seen in patients with the highest levels of homocysteine at the start of the study. (Homocysteine is an inflammation marker with strong links to dementia, heart disease, and more.) Those benefits went well beyond anything measured on cognitive tests.

    In fact, patients who took the vitamins had real and visible changes in the physical structure of the brain itself.

    Before I get into that, a little background: All our brains shrink a little as we age. It's a frightening thought, but it's perfectly normal.

    In dementia patients, however, the brains often shrink at a much faster rate -- so researchers believe anything that can slow that loss of gray matter may also slow or stop the disease itself.

    And the vitamins were able to slow that loss of gray matter by an average of 30 percent overall and 50 percent in those with high homocysteine levels -- with one patient seeing a shocking improvement of 500 percent.

    It's clearly too early to say whether B vitamins can stop or even slow Alzheimer's disease. But it's also pretty clear you need more of the Bs than the tiny levels the powers-that-be recommend -- so talk to your doctor today about adding a B complex to your regimen.

  3. Eyes linked to heart risk

    When it comes to heart disease, it looks like the eyes have it. Researchers say they can spot who's more likely to suffer the life-threatening condition by simply checking for yellow spots on the eyelids. People who have them face a 50-percent increase in the risk of a heart attack.
  4. The natural way to beat inflammation

    Inflammation has gone from a condition you should worry about to a marketing buzzword used to sell everything from drugs to juice to cereal. Well, at least they got it half right: You should worry about inflammation, and do what you can to bring your own levels down.
  5. The natural way to beat inflammation

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    Inflammation has gone from a condition you should worry about to a marketing buzzword used to sell everything from drugs to juice to cereal. Well, at least they got it half right: You should worry about inflammation, and do what you can to bring your own levels down. But forget the drugs, juice and cereal - because none of those...
  6. More good news on Omega 3

    A new study shows that those wonderful omega-3 fatty acids – the ones we no longer get enough of – may play a role in fighting heart disease in diabetics.
  7. Study: Vitamin supplements slash macular degeneration risk

    New research shows that a simple vitamin regimen can help you prevent age-related macular degeneration.

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