By David Blyweiss, M.D.
July 08, 2013
- A dangerous threat to your brain
- The amino acid that’s stealing your memories
- Easily sidestep this common cause of dementia and Alzheimer’s
I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t experienced an occasional brain “hiccup” every now and then.
That’s what one of my patients called it when she recently had a short-term memory lapse. Right in the middle of introducing a co-worker to her husband, she suddenly forgot the woman’s name.
It scared her. And I can understand why.
But it’s not uncommon.
You see, we all experience these little “hiccups” every now and then. You walk into a room and forgot what you were going there for. Then, about 30 seconds later, it comes back to you.
Or maybe you’re telling someone about the movie you saw just the night before. But for some reason you can’t remember the name of it. The minute you finish the conversation, the movie title pops into your head.
The real problems come when the memories disappear for good, or start getting all jumbled up in your mind.
And that’s the destiny all of us fear the most. Losing our minds and heading into old age with mental instability due to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Well today I’m going to share one of the biggest threats to your aging brain. But that’s not all I’ll do.
I will also show you exactly what you can do to increase your chances of entering your “golden years” with all of your mental facilities intact.
As we age certain changes occur in our brains. And they can lead us down a path of mental decline and dementia.
There are many factors involved in these changes. However, there’s one especially harmful threat that can disturb numerous functions in your brain.
It’s an amino acid called homocysteine.
When you have normal levels of this compound in your bloodstream, it’s relatively harmless. It’s practically anonymous.
But once the levels begin to rise, it’s anything BUT harmless!
You may have heard about how devastating high homocysteine levels can be to your heart health. However, you might not have seen the news reports and studies on how destructive it can be to your brain function.
Well hold onto your seat. Because this amino acid attacks your brain on multiple fronts.
High levels of homocysteine can lead to…
• The development of amyloid plaques and tangles of tau. These two proteins are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. When they begin racing out of control, they start choking out brain and nerve cells.
• Damage to white matter. White matter lesions are pockets of dead cells that can affect the way your brain transmits information to the thinking areas of your brain. It’s now believed changes in white matter could be one of the earliest detectable brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease.
• Brain shrinkage. When key areas of the brain begin shrinking, your risk of dementia increases by more than three times. MRI scans can identify brain shrinkage up to 10 years before Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed.
Now there’s one thing I know for sure. EVERYBODY wants to keep a razor sharp brain as long as possible. And taking control of your homocysteine levels is one of the most important things you can do to protect your memory and brain function.
It’s easy to do, doesn’t cost much and can help keep you alert and active well into your later years…
Getting your homocysteine levels under control doesn’t take a lot of work. It just requires taking three B vitamins every single day in the appropriate dosages…
• 500 mcg. B12
• 20 mg. B6
• 800-1000 mcg. folic acid
A while back there was a study involving people with mild cognitive impairment and high homocysteine levels. Those who took these exact, same dosages were able to lower brain shrinkage by a whopping 53%. And once their brains stopped shrinking, they started getting higher scores on cognitive tests.
There is plenty of other research showing just how effectively these B vitamins work to lower homocysteine levels, increase memory and improve attention.
I also suggest getting plenty of exercise. People who participate in more physical activity are shown to have less brain shrinkage and fewer white matter lesions than those who are sedentary. It also produces more of something so critical for brain health that even the name sounds important, Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
So don’t forget to talk a nice, long walk every morning and evening. Toss in a couple bursts of intensity for good measure and your brain will be all the happier for it.
Hasegawa T, et al. Homocysteic acid induces intraneuronal accumulation of neurotoxic Abeta42: implications for the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. J Neurosci Res. 2005 Jun 15;80(6):869-76.
Popp J, et al. Homocysteine metabolism and cerebrospinal fluid markers for Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009;18(4):819-28. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2009-1187.
University of Kentucky (2010, June 29). Alzheimer’s imaging study identifies changes in brain’s white matter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 8, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2010/06/100628112119.htm
Dickerson BC, et al. Alzheimer-signature MRI biomarkers predicts AD dementia in cognitively normal adults. Neurology 2011, April 14 [Epub ahead of print].
Smith AD, et al. Homocysteine-lowering by B vitamins slows the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2010 Sep 8;5(9):e12244.
de Jager CA, et al. Cognitive and clinical outcomes of homocysteine-lowering B-vitamin treatment in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2012 Jun;27(6):592-600. Epub 2011 Jul 21.
Exercise May Trump Mental Activity in Protecting Against Brain Shrinkage. Press Release. American Academy of Neurology. October 22, 2012