Benefits of Brain Boosting Minerals
If you’re struggling with remembering and focusing, try to remember this: brain boosting minerals may be a great way to help you improve your mental ability. Researchers from Deakin University in Australia have been studying the benefits of how iron and zinc are improving the psychological health of women. Their study shows that by increasing these minerals, cognitive function increases significantly.
The Strength of Iron
If you start to think about iron, many things may pop into your head. A rusty nail that you might have stepped on, a piece of metal girding up a building, that metallic taste in your mouth when you accidentally bite your tongue, or a supplement that a friend had to take for low iron. The surprising thing is, all of these answers are correct. The metal that is present in your blood is, in its elemental form, exactly the same as it is present in nature. Yes, it takes on many different styles and works in a variety of ways, but it is still the same.
Benefits of Iron
Iron in the body is a primary maker of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is part of a red blood cell and is a protein that helps to transfer oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. It also works with myoglobin, another protein, that helps to get oxygen to your muscles. Iron doesn’t stop there, it helps to produce enzymes for digestion and absorption of nutrients from the food that you eat. It is also a crucial ingredient to help with growth, cell function, hormone production, and support of connective tissue (the tissue that keeps the body together).
The strength of iron is also found in its effects as one of the brain boosting minerals. The brain requires lots of oxygen to work at its peak ability. If the brain does not receive the high levels that it requires, it will not function as it should. In children, this is seen as an inability to pay attention in class, irritability, and a restless feeling. In adults, a low level of iron can show as a careless apathy, decreases in productivity, and a bad memory. One surprising note from the study done in Australia was an overall improvement of mental ability by supplementing with proper brain boosting minerals. Even if you do not see yourself struggling with decreased mental abilities, just by increasing your levels of iron, you could see an improvement.
Sources of Iron
Iron is found in blood and non-blood products. Red meat, liver, and some kinds of seafood are some of the favorite ways to get it. Non-blood products that contain iron would be spirulina (blue-green algae), dark chocolate, lentils, spinach, and black beans.
Increasing iron supplementation can be done with the right diet, but it should only be done with the proper supervision. Do not take iron supplements unless properly supervised. Having too much iron in your body is dangerous because it is an oxidant. Some of the side effects of the pill-like supplements are nausea, diarrhea, stomach upset, hard and dry stools, and heartburn. If you suddenly begin increasing your iron through a change in your diet, you may see some of these symptoms as well. It is best to gradually add these foods instead of making a sudden or dramatic change.
Caution on Iron
The ones who need to specifically look at their iron consumption would be those who are pregnant, young children, women (of any age) with heavy menstrual cycles, those who donate blood frequently, people who suffer from cancer, those who have digestive disorders, and those who have failing conditions of the heart.
It is also critical to note that iron supplementation can interact with your medications. You may need to switch around when you take your medications or avoid certain foods, and this should only be done with the proper supervision. Do not make these changes on your own.
The Power of Zinc
Zinc is also a metal, and it has been popularized as a supplement to help during cold and flu season. However, it is needed in everyday life as well, and not only if you are coming down with the sniffles. It is a trace element, which means small amounts are needed versus more massive quantities.
Benefits of Zinc
The presence of zinc in the body is felt throughout. Even though it is a tiny amount, it is powerful to help the body with hormone production (especially thyroid), immunity, and digestion, and it also works as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Without proper amounts of zinc, you may feel tired and worn out and your cuts and wounds do not heal properly. If you do not have brain boosting minerals such as zinc, you may have symptoms of decreased concentration and memory loss.
Sources of Zinc
For those who have digestive disorders, zinc can be challenging to absorb. It is best to get zinc from natural, organic foods rather than supplement through a pill or lozenge. Some of best ways to get the power of zinc, one of the chief brain boosting minerals, are
- Grass-fed beef
- Yogurt and kefir
- Pumpkin seeds
You may notice on various food labels, like legumes and whole grains, that zinc is present. Unfortunately, zinc in grains and legumes is bound to phytates. Phytates are anti-nutrients: they actually stop the body from absorbing the minerals and render them useless. For those who follow a heavy-carbohydrate diet or vegetarian diet, it is possible that you may have a zinc deficit as it is difficult to get the correct nutrients that are not bound by phytates.
Also, those who suffer from stomach acid difficulties, are heavy alcohol drinkers, or taking artificial hormones (like birth control), you too may have trouble absorbing the right amount of zinc. It is best that you work closely with your diet coach to make sure you are getting the right amounts of zinc in your diet in the best way possible. Zinc should not be taken long-term without supervision.
How Stress Affects Your Body
When you are consuming the right amounts of vitamins and minerals, your mind and body can be working like a well-oiled machine. However, what happens on those days that you do not feel at your best. What can be done when the stress of everyday life starts to get at you? Or, those long-term illnesses that just seem to stay around forever?
It’s important to remember that your body works as a holistic unit. Just like if you get a paper cut, it is not only the skin that is working to regrow those skin cells. It is a pain sensation from the nerves to tell you that a cut happened, blood loss and serosanguinous fluid present to help wash away the debris, the immune system is present to fight off any foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses, and the lymph system removes excess fluid caused by inflammation. The heart is pumping blood, the lungs are oxygenating that blood, and your brain is directing the process.
A not so well-known process that is directing the healing of your paper cut is the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response System. While the brain is technically the organ that responds and interprets the stress through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) hormonal axis by producing cortisol, the NEM Stress Response is the captain of the operation.
This whole body response system communicates via six different circuits to deal with the minor stress of a paper cut, the moderate pressure of a hard day at work, to the significant and overwhelming stress of losing a loved one or dealing with a catastrophe. It does not matter if the stress is physical (similar to a viral or bacterial infection) or emotional. The body interprets stress as stress, and it will deal with it as best as it can.
The six circuits are hormone, bioenergetics, detoxification, inflammation, cardionomic, and neuroaffect. Specifically, when dealing with brain boosting minerals, the neuroaffect circuit is the focus. The body attempts to deal with all stress quietly and efficiently, but during stressful times the necessary ingredients may not be present to work at the optimal rate.
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
Though the NEM Stress Response is sending out the appropriate help, it may not have enough supplies to do it efficiently. Specifically, cortisol is one of the most crucial ingredients in the NEM Stress Response because it decreases inflammation and allows the body to return back to normal. Without the right amount of cortisol, the adrenal glands are overworked and begin to fail. This failure is known as Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) and produces many symptoms.
Healing Through Brain Boosting Minerals and Other Resources
The key to avoiding going down the painful road of AFS, the vital thing to remember is prevention is key. As you are able to eat a balanced and healthy diet, you will naturally get the needed brain boosting minerals that your body requires.
Is it necessary to supplement with brain boosting minerals?
No. In most cases, taking additional supplements for brain boosting minerals is not needed if you are able to eat a balanced diet. Besides, it is best to only supplement if your healthcare provider wants you to and only from organic sources.
Other ways to keep your brain function at its optimal levels is by using your mind. It may sound silly, but as the old saying goes, “if you don’t use it, you will lose it.” Your mental ability is the same way. You can build your brain by doing mental activities such as handiwork, crossword puzzles, painting, playing a musical instrument, working in the garden, and gentle exercises.
Some gentle exercises, if approved by your healthcare coach, would be tai chi, walking, swimming, or Yin yoga. For those who are more adventurous, signing up for a 5k, boxing, aerobics, or even hiking is good to stimulate the mind. The key is to do something, because the more active you are, the more oxygen your brain will receive and keep it busy as well.
Tech-savvy people also have a strong element in improving the brain through computerized applications and games online. There are apps for problem-solving skills and even improving your memory. These can be done on a computer, tablet, or even a smartphone. The choices are endless!
Finally, the brain can find healing through quietness, meditation, and adrenal breathing. Your body may be physically tired, but you may find that your mind is racing with thoughts and multiple conversations. This is exhausting mentally. By daily practicing mindfulness and meditation, you can find the quietness of mind that you are seeking. Adrenal Breathing Exercises (ABE) are a great way to help the body and mind slow down to a proper level, all the while increasing your oxygen consumption. You can do this as follows:
- Take a gentle breath in, slowly.
- Feel the air filling your lower lungs and then the upper.
- Do not overfill. When you are ready, begin to exhale.
- Let the breath come out slowly, and relax as the wave of relaxation comes over you.
- Repeat the cycle 10-15 times if you can.
- Gradually increase the sequences until you can do it for 15-20 minutes several times a day.
Enhancing your brain’s abilities do not require super-human feats, it can be found through brain boosting minerals by increasing iron and zinc through your diet. The key to this is doing it in the proper amounts, from the right locations, and with the right supervision. You can help your NEM Stress Response by giving it the necessary ingredients that it needs to help your body overcome the stressors that you are facing, and that is a beautiful thing to think about!
© Copyright 2019 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
Is it necessary to supplement with brain boosting minerals?
No. Taking additional supplementation for brain boosting minerals is not needed if you are able to eat a balanced diet. In addition, it is best to only supplement if your healthcare provider wants you to and only from organic sources.