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The New York Times recently reported the outcome of a clinical study on brain function in older populations that nutrition plays an extremely important role in how the brain functions as a whole. The study appeared in the Jan. 24, 2012 issue of Neurology. It was conducted by Dr. Gene Bowerman, a neurology researcher at the Oregon Health Science University. After evaluating blood nutrient levels of 104 participants (both male and female) along with brain scans and a series of cognitive tests, the outcome comparison showed that the group who had the higher level of vitamins and acids (Omega 3's) scored higher on cognitive tests and had a higher brain volume than those with lower levels.

Here are my Top 5 Nutrients for a Healthy Brain:

1. Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Carnitine is an amino acid which assists in the transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria for energy conversion.

The current theory suggest that Acetyl-L-Carnitine may be more effective than other forms of Carnitine in conditions involving the brain, including Alzheimer's Disease.

It supports healthy brain function by stimulating neurotransmitters. Carnitine deficiencies may show up as fatigue, chest pain, muscle pain, weakness, hypotension and/or confusion.

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids/DHA

The Omega 3 DHA is a major component of brain tissue, with the Omega 3 comprising 10% of dry weight of the human brain.

One study showed a DHA-enriched diet enhanced the effects of exercise.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh reported in a study that Omega-3 fats were important for cognitive function in children.

3. Magnesium

Magnesium possesses unique and potentially useful effects in maintaining healthy cerebral vascular circulation. Animal studies have shown memory enhancement, but human research is still needed. Research at MIT and the University of Beijing is currently studying the effects.

Obese patients and diabetics may have low levels of magnesium, which points to its impact.

If not in pill form, magnesium is found in dark, leafy vegetables and some fruits.

4. Gingko Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is often used for memory disorders including Alzheimer's Disease. It is also used for conditions that seem to be due to reduced blood flow in the brain, especially in older people. These conditions include memory loss, headache, ringing in the ears, vertigo, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and hearing disorders. Some people use it for other problems related to poor blood flow in the body, including leg pain when walking. Ginkgo leaf is also used for thinking disorders related to Lyme disease and depression. Some people use ginkgo to treat sexual performance problems. Human clinical trials show that Gingko helps to slow down or restore cognitive dysfunction in those who have vascular dementia or Alzheimer's Disease.

5. Phosphatidyl Serine (PS)

PS is a phospholipid, a type of fat particularly concentrated in the brain. PS helps to keep the memory related pathways functioning smoothly. Research indicates that when PS declines with age, the ability to learn, remember things, and stay alert may also decline. Depression may develop as a result of age related PS insufficiency. PS plays an important role in maintaining the integrity of brain cell membranes by efficient transport of energy producing nutrients into cells, enhancing brain cell energy metabolism.

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