Brain Vitamins 101 – Ginkgo Biloba at a Glance

Ginkgo BilobaWhat Is Ginkgo Biloba?

Standardized extracts of the Ginkgo Biloba leaf (also known as GBE), are not only some of the most widely studied brain vitamins derived from natural plants to be used in modern medicine today, but also some of the oldest.

The Ginkgo Biloba leaf, from which the extract is derived, has been shown by botanists to be from one of the first tree species on the planet- the ancient Ginkgo tree – which has proven to be extremely resilient over the centuries with many examples having been found and dated to be over 1000 years old.

In fact the National Centre for Complimentary Medicine mentions that some of the first recorded uses of ginkgo as an herbal medicine were recorded in writings found in China and across Cambodia also from as long as 1000 years ago ,which implies that from its very beginning  the leaf from the Ginkgo tree was being used as a herbal medicine in some parts of the Far East.

These ancient texts found in China and Cambodia evidence how it was not only the leaves but also the seeds from the ginkgo tree that were ground together and applied in the form of a paste or taken orally with water.

Ginkgo Biloba & Modern Medicine

Modern medicine however has moved away from using Ginkgo derived from the leaves and seeds of the tree to using a more standardised extract (GBE), which is also made from leaves but they are dried first to make the end result more concentrated.

The resulting extracted formula (GBE) is highly efficacious and subsequent comparison research has shown it to be more effective in treating standard ailments like memory loss or blood circulation problems than the non-standardized leaf alone.

The standardisation of Ginkgo to a more potent form has meant that brain vitamins for memory supplements containing extracts of Ginkgo are now widely used across the world and are consistently ranked amongst the most popular herbal remedies both in the United States and across mainland Europe.

Although Ginkgo has been used to treat a wide number of ailments and disorders over the centuries including protection from the thinning of blood and development of blood clots, today it is most commonly used to improve memory and prevent dementia or mild to moderate memory loss.

There have been a range of animal and human research studies, both formal and informal into the efficacy of extract of Ginkgo as a brain vitamin for memory and although the sheer number of studies makes contradictory results inevitable, the general conclusion amongst the wider scientific community is that extracts of ginkgo biloba may be extremely useful in treating mild to moderate forms of dementia that would include the early onset of Alzheimer’s.

How Does Ginkgo Biloba Work?

Ginkgo Biloba

These research studies as described by the Mayo Clinic have shown that the two main essential elements found in ginkgo extract (known as terpenoids and flavonoids) work to eliminate free radicals and thereby help protect cells, nerves and DNA in the human body. It is the antioxidant properties that ginkgo biloba possesses that helps protect memory in humans particularly as we get older.

Specifically these research studies appear to demonstrate the following memory related benefits associated with Ginkgo Biloba:

  • Improves overall cognitive performance
  • Improves quality of thinking
  • Improves memory recall
  • Improvement in overall positivity
  • Improvement in mood balance
  • Improvement in social functioning

In fact a large amount of scientific research studies have concluded that extract of ginkgo may work as well as doctor prescribed medications for Dementia and Alzheimer’s and the considerable body of anecdotal evidence gathered over many centuries of use appear to back up the overriding scientific conclusions as to the efficacy of Ginkgo Biloba in helping protect memory.

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Sam Jansen is a leading brain scientist, lawyer and author, studying neuroscience, social behaviors and the science of happiness.You can find him at Google+

How Depression Supplements Can Break the Link Between Depression and Anxiety

depression supplements

The events that happen in our lives play a great role in moulding our personality and our moods and to a great degree we are all essentially the products of our environment. What we think is how we feel is how we act .When we achieve something we are happy; when we lose we feel depressed, and when we fear something feel anxious Having said this from a medical point of view the terms depression and anxiety are typically used to describe a range of more moderate to severe mood disturbances- many of which are connected together. More than half the people seeking help for depression in the US also have anxiety. Both of them together are harder to diagnose, harder to treat and hardest to live with.

Depression causes people to feel lonely, helpless and hopeless. Anxiety makes them agitated and overwhelmed by physical symptoms. It is a surprising fact that the ratio of women and men seeking help for depression and anxiety disorders in the US has increased dramatically since 2008 and is currently 2:1. Today many women and men are facing depression but don’t even realize it. They accept their out of kilter mental state as being normal without understanding the triggers.

Coupled with this increase in cases of depression and anxiety since 2008 (when the global recession began)  has been a corresponding rise in the rejection of many doctor prescribed anti – depressant medications and an increase in the use of more natural mood stabilizers , depression supplements, mood enhancers and vitamins for depression .

Depression and Anxiety Have Similar Triggers

One of the main reasons depression and anxiety often go hand in hand is because they both tend to have similar triggers. These triggers can be extremely mundane and common.

  • Situations – Having conflicts at work or school, or strained relationships with family and friends.
  • Major changes in life – for example, divorce, death of a dear one, losing a job etc.
  • Trauma – Surviving an accident or being a victim or some crime, natural disaster can also lead to depression and anxiety.
  • Chemical Imbalances – Excessive use of alcohol and drugs can especially lead to this.
  • Family History- People with anxiety and depression running in the family are more likely to suffer from them as well.
  • Physical illness – long term illness- e.g. HIV Aids, or Cancer, or being physically impaired.
  • Pre/Post Natal -  many women suffer from anxiety and depression during and after pregnancy.

There are a number of signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety and they are remarkably similar. Of course there are differences, but in order to break the connection and tackle each on its own demerits it is important to understand the commonalities.

Common elements of depression and anxiety can include feelings of self-loathing, changes in appetite or weight, insomnia, restlessness, fatigue, loss of interest in daily life, feelings of apprehension and dread. People who have major anxiety problems often imagine the worst case situations. Many of them are scared of going out in public places; they feel people are watching them and become increasingly self- conscious. Many of the more effective depression vitamin formulas will ease both anxiety and depression.

Breaking the Link between Depression and Anxiety Lies in Understanding Their Connections

Even though it is argued that depression and anxiety are not preventable, there are many things you can do to keep them both at bay and there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that shows how the use of natural depression supplements can help .

Unfortunately, we cannot be happy all of the time, but there is something we can do about it. I have worked with a number of clients over the years, and seen how exercise and yoga has continues to change their mood states for the better. Endorphins are produced from a variety of exercise routines reduce stress and enhance good moods. Besides this, exercise helps encounter a number of other health problems as well. Bring changes into your lifestyle. Research which of the vitamins for depression are best for you. Eat and sleep on time. Have the required eight hours sleep and eat healthy foods.

How Natural Depression Supplements Can Help Break the Link between Depression and Anxiety

The right types of depression supplements can often make up for a lack of serotonin production in the brain .Many reputable natural mood stabalisers contain amino acids that allow for the healthy activity of neurons or neurotransmitters in the brain.

These neuro transmitters are essentially the brains chemical messengers and things like stress, smoking or drinking too much or having a diet lacking in essential nutrients can lead to fluctuations in mood and to feelings of anxiety and depression.

A lack of folic acid, an essential depression vitamin also known as Vitamin B9, or Vitamin B12, or Vitamin B6 in the diet may be linked to depression. Oranges, beets, turkey, asparagus, soybeans and green leafy vegetables like spinach are good sources of folic acid. Fermented soy products and root vegetables as well as fish, shellfish, dairy and meat products are good sources of Vitamin B12. Vitamin B6 is found in beans, nuts, legumes, eggs, meats, fish and whole grains.

In addition to concentrating on diet and supplementing with the appropriate natural depression supplements also try keeping yourself busy. It may sound like a cliché but participate in social activities, support groups, senior centres, or local activities. Meeting new people will keep you fresh. Most importantly is don’t give up Even though you cannot get rid of depression and anxiety over night, these are the little things we can do to ease them and these simple things are relatively easy to adopt into a normal day schedule.

With the right kind of depression supplements and subtle changes in your routine will find your mood lifting and the world (and yourself) feeling a better place to be.

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Sam Jansen is a leading brain scientist, lawyer and author, studying neuroscience, social behaviors and the science of happiness.You can find him at Google+

Which Brain Supplements for Children? – Omega-3 & Antioxidants

brain supplements for childrenOne of the sad but true facts of modern life is that our children often do not have enough time to eat the right kinds of food that deliver the right kinds of nutrients they need to function at their best every day.

As more and more stories appear in newspapers and on TV about how our kids are going to school with nothing more than a sugary carbonated drink, a packet of potato chips and chocolate bar in their lunch boxes it is little wonder that there has been a dramatic rise in attention deficit disorders and other behavioural issues often associated with diets that have too much sugar and too many artificial processed E numbers.

It is for this reason that in many countries, the advice from the relevant leading national health advisory services is that using natural brain supplements is not only desirable but also critical in order to maintain a growing child’s health and attention during the school day.

In light of this almost unanimous advice, this article therefore attempts to examine the benefits of two of the more essential vitamins found in leading brain supplements for kids – Omega 3 and Anti-Oxidants  - with a view to helping you understand the importance of additional supplementation as your kids grow older.

Brain Booster Supplements for Kids – Omega -3 Fatty Acids

Perhaps one of the most widely researched vitamins for brain health is the family of Omega three fatty acids. These essential nutrients widely considered to be essential for correct metabolic functioning in the human body.Omega 3 and children

Commonly found in oily fish and some plants, Omega three fatty acids are now widely thought of as being an important first stage treatment for symptoms of autism and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There are now a number of recent research studies showing medium to high positive results in treating both these disorders in children successfully for the long-term.

Having said this use of omega-3 fatty acids in helping reduce instances of cancer and heart disease for example as proved controversial as the positive results have mainly been evidenced as anecdotal and there is a lack of rigorous scientific research to support the claims.

What is clear however is the available research studies point very clearly to the nerve protecting properties of Omega three and the corresponding increases inattentiveness and productivity amongst children who take brain supplements contain these types of fish oils.

Brain Supplements for Children – Antioxidants

antioxidants for kidsAlong with Omega three fatty acids perhaps the most widely research substances that have been shown to protect and improve brain health in children are antioxidants. These essential brain nutrients work by effectively protecting the cells of the body and brain against the harmful effects of molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals work against the body and damage cells and nerve endings and researchers show that excessive free radical activity may increase in individual’s chances of getting cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Antioxidants are found in a large variety of foods including most fruits and vegetables some nuts and most types of fish and red meat. However as stated before many children’s diets do not deliver the right balance consistently and so many parents have found that using brain supplements containing selenium, beta-carotene as well as vitamin a, vitamins E and vitamins C can help improve a child’s responsiveness in the classroom.

Unlike Omega three fatty acids, where the research has tended to the contradictory and evidence supporting its benefits have been mainly anecdotal, the research as almost unilaterally supported the benefits of using antioxidants to help keep a child is immune system vibrant and strong. Since free radicals interfere and damage the body’s immune system antioxidants work in a very practical way to help the body fights common immune affecting diseases like colds and flu in children.

The Importance of Brain Nutrition for Children

There is little doubt the proper diet and an understanding of brain nutrition do play an important role in your child’s ability to develop and learn as he or she grows older, however faced with an overwhelming choice of multivitamins and vitamin supplement varieties many parents simply shut off and do nothing. As we can see from the above two most important examples of brain supplements the children simply by supplementing with Omega three and a number of antioxidants you will ensure your child’s development and learning continues at its best for the long-term.

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Sam Jansen is a leading brain scientist, lawyer and author, studying neuroscience, social behaviours and the science of happiness.You can find him at Google+

Which Brain Supplements? – Some Essential Ingredients (Part 1)

which brain supplements?So Many Brain Supplements -So Little Time

Over the past decade or so there is been a significant increase in the number of natural brain supplements available to consumers in the marketplace and often the claims these supplements for brain performance make do not match up to their delivery.

What is clear however, is that as the importance of brain health and brain nutrition becomes more prominent and is placed on an equal footing with body fitness and body health in our minds and through our actions, the number of brain supplements available to choose from will only increase, making it all the more difficult to choose the most effective

This article therefore attempts to identify some of the most important ingredients to look for if you are considering an effective natural supplement for your brain performance and the advice is if the brain supplements you are considering do not contain all or most of these ingredients, then do not consider buying it.

1. Ginkgo Biloba

ginko biloba supplements

Perhaps one of the most effective natural brain supporting ingredients found in only the best supplements for the brain, ginkgo biloba has been used in traditional medicine in the Far East for many thousands of years.

Over this time, ginkgo biloba has been shown to be very successful in alleviating many of the more common conditions that affect brain performance including dementia, lack of concentration and focus as well as depression and/or anxiety.

However. In spite of all the available anecdotal evidence to its efficacy in improving brain performance, it is only then in the last decade or so that the scientific community had begun to take ginkgo biloba seriously as a credible alternative to many of the more common doctor prescribed medicine.

Recent research studies, conducted in both Europe and the United States, have concluded in favour of using extracts of ginkgo biloba, not just for memory and mood improvement but also in reducing altitude sickness, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), some eye disorders related to ageing and in the case of cancer patients reducing the damage done to internal organs cause by chemotherapy.

2. Acetyl L Carnitine (ALCAR)

This brain booster amino acid is produced naturally in the body and is an essential building block for proteins. It is being used over the years to treat a variety of age-related mental disorders including Alzheimer’s and some forms of mild to moderate depression. ALCAR has also proved effective in helping reverse the damage done to the brain due to alcoholism and Lyme disease.

Acetyl L Carnitine is important that it helps the body create energy which is vital not just for brain performance, but also for efficient heart and muscle function. In addition to these critical functions, ALCAR is also used widely in men’s health to treat infertility and low testosterone levels that can lead to loss of libido and/or erectile dysfunction.

3.L-Methionie

This essential amino acid has been shown in a number of small animal research studies to have the potential to increase lifespan in the control subjects and although human research studies have proved less conclusive many neuroscientists are convinced as to the importance of L-Methionie in improving overall brain health and protecting memory.

L- Mehionine can be found naturally occurring in common foods like, eggs ,brazil nuts and cereal grain.

4. Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)

This natural fatty acid occurs naturally in the human body and is found in each and every cell. It works by turning blood sugar also known as glucose into the energy that our bodies need for normal day-to-day function. ALA also acts as an essential antioxidant by neutralising harmful free radicals.

Recent research shows that ALA is easily able to cross the blood brain barrier and this ability to pass effectively into the brain while acting to neutralise harmful free radicals means it is able to protect brain function particularly as we age.

In addition to its brain protecting properties ALA has also been used to ease symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and Alzheimer’s disease.

5.. L- Theanine

Like Acetyl- L -Carnitine, L- Theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that has been shown over the decades to have a large number of health benefits to both body and mind.
It is widely believed that L-Theanine improves brain performance by neutralising the effects of stress on the central nervous system. In addition to its known stress reducing properties, research studies have shown that L-Theanine boosts immunity can help ease depression prevent obesity as well as improving overall brain performance.

In addition to being found in only the best brain supplements, L-Theanine is most commonly found in green tea and there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that supports the overall health benefits described in small research studies amongst drinkers of green tea (particularly in the far east) . It should be noted that the excessive drinking green tea (more than 5 cups a day) can lead some individuals to suffer from insomnia, headaches and mild irritability. The reasons for this are thought not to be because of L-Theanine but because of the caffeine content found in green tea.

Which Brain Supplements? Conclusion

Brainsmart Brain Supplements

While the above list of the 4 most essential brain supplement ingredients is by no means conclusive and there are many more brain boosting amino acids and vitamins that can improve brain performance, these are the best researched and the most widely available.
As with any brain boosting supplement, the advice is do as much research as you can. We are all by definition individually different and therefore we all will respond differently to different vitamins and amino acids depending on our physical and mental circumstances. Having said this as a rule of thumb, when you are faced with a huge choice of potential supplements the brain, try to ensure that the one you finally choose contains all or most of the ingredients above

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Sam Jansen is a leading brain scientist, lawyer and author, studying neuroscience, social behaviors and the science of happiness.You can find him at Google+

How to Improve Memory With Just A Little Exercise – Ground Breaking New Research

how to improve memory

New Research Shows How To Improve Memory With Just A Little Exercise 

It is commonly know that aerobic exercise is good for both the body and the brain. Exercise increases endorphins and the production of serotonin in the nervous system as well as increasing the amount of oxygen delivered the brain. This oxygenation of the brain improves blood flow and ultimately helps if your are struggling with how to improve memory, your focus and concentration and your overall brain health and performance.

However, given how complicated our modern day lives are now and how difficult it is to find time in our busy days to exercise in a meaningful way, the question is, just how much daily aerobic exercise do we need to do and how  to improve memory and brain health without cutting into the limited amount of valuable amount of time we have available in our day?

The reason this question is important is because it’s human nature to not do the things that are good for us if we don’t see immediate benefit and since arriving exercise is so important the brain health is vital to try and understand how much exercise is enough to keep our brains in tiptop condition.

Luckily for all of us, new research from the University of California (UCI) may have found the answer.

Details of the UCI Study Into How To Improve Memory Loss with Exercise

how to improve memory with exerciseThe UCI study involved two groups of adults aged 50+. The first group had no history of mental illness or memory loss while second group consisted of individuals who had been struggling with how to improve memory and who had experienced some form of memory loss during their adult lives

The first group were tested by exercising on stationary bicycles (the type of equipment commonly found in gym spin cycle classes) for less than 10 minutes while the second group did no exercise at all. Both groups were then given a saliva test followed by a series of simple memory tests involving the recall of a number of uncomplicated images. Exactly one hour later both groups were then given another saliva test and then asked to recall the images again.

The results were as dramatic as they were surprising; the group that had exercised on the stationary bicycles were far more successful in remembering more of the images from the memory test then the group who have not exercised at all. Most surprising of all was that those individuals who had a history of memory loss and had exercised on stationary bicycles actually doubled their ability to remember the images.

Small Amounts of Exercise = More Norepinephrine = Improved Memory

The final saliva tests of both cohorts showed that the group who exercised on the stationary bicycles (and had demonstrated better memory recall of the images) had a higher level of the memory boosting neurotransmitter Norepinephrine in their saliva than the group who had not exercised at all.

The results of this research study has led the neuroscientists involved to conclude that very small amounts of aerobic activity (in this case no more than 6 minutes!) will result in the production of the memory boosting neurotransmitter Norepinephrine and this increase in production was higher in individuals who started from a position of poor or declining memory performance.

This study is all the more remarkable because it is the first time that the direct link has been made between small amounts of aerobic exercise and almost immediate memory improvement.

It is important to note that because this is the first comprehensive study of its kind that there is still work to do in establishing a relationship between exercise and memory improvement but as researchers plan more detailed studies on the back of this existing one, the link between memory improvement and just small amounts of exercise will only become more pronounced.

What is clear from this initial study is it just a little aerobic exercise done consistently every day can deliver significant improvements in memory as we age.

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Sam Jansen is a leading brain scientist, lawyer and author, studying neuroscience, social behaviors and the science of happiness.You can find him at Google+

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