Are you suffering from broken brain? According to Dr. Mark Hyman, the medical director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine and founder of The UltraWellness Center, broken brains are causing a variety of problems including anxiety, depression and brain fog, among many other brain disorders. The way to fix these brain disorders is by healing our bodies, which means eating a healthy diet and taking daily supplements which can dramatically dramatically improve your overall health. Here’s the 6 daily supplements Dr. Hyman says you can’t afford to go without, and 3 more that can help with specific brain disorders.
Through my own personal experience and as a functional medicine doctor who has treated thousands of patients, I have seen an epidemic in what I call “Broken Brain.” Our broken brains are causing a variety of problems including anxiety, depression, bipolar disease, personality disorder, addictions and much more.
What leads to a broken brain? Many of us don’t get enough good food, nutrients, light, air, water, rest, sleep, rhythm, exercise, community, love, meaning and purpose. Instead, we use sugar, caffeine, and alcohol to self-medicate and manage our energy and moods. Since our brain is an organ that is connected to everything else that happens in our body, when our bodies are not healthy, then our brain isn’t healthy.
Luckily, brains are resilient and can heal when given what they need to thrive. And to fix the brain, we need to get to the root cause of our broken brains, which I believe starts with the food that we eat. Starting by making sure everything you’re putting into your body is going to help improve your overall health. Make sure you are eating enough quality foods such as plant foods and healthy fats like avocado and wild salmon. Then remove all the foods such as sugars and processed foods that are going to have a negative effect on your body and ultimately your brain.
Supplements To Boost Your Overall Health
Even if we do feed our body healthy foods and limit our toxins, we still may not be getting the right amount of certain nutrients that support healthy brains and bodies. And modern life is stressful, our food supply is often poor quality, and our bodies and brains are often exposed to a high load of toxins. To ensure we’re functioning at our best, we need a basic daily supply of the raw materials for good health.
That is where daily supplements come in. I believe that supplementing with the right nutrients can help support your body and brain. In my docuseries Broken Brain, I discuss how to optimize nutrient support through supplementation. Here are some tips on how you can incorporate supplements into your daily diet to improve your overall health and get a healthy brain:
Daily Supplements For Your Entire Body
These nutrients are foundational daily supplements that cover the bases your daily diet might not. They feed your body and feed your brain. Fortunately, these basic supplements are not expensive. I recommend everyone take the following 6 daily supplements.
- A high-quality, high-potency, highly bioavailable, broad-spectrum multivitamin/mineral
Make sure these provide the full range of vitamins and minerals in their correct forms. You will probably need to take two to six (or more) capsules. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for dose.
Approximately 75 percent of people are magnesium deficient. This calming mineral plays a part in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in our bodies. Take 200-400 mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate before bed to help relax the nervous system and muscles and even calm the brain.
- Vitamin D3
Our bodies typically synthesize this vitamin from sunlight. However, because so many of us work indoors all day, more than 80 percent of the U.S. population has insufficient levels of vitamin D. And research shows vitamin D deficiencies contribute to a wide range of problems, including dementia. Get your vitamin D levels tested, and if your levels are low, work with your doctor to add in the appropriate amounts of vitamin D supplements.
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Our brains are nearly 60 percent fat, so it should be no surprise that insufficient dietary fat levels can harm our brains. Chief among those fatty acids for your brain are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain function and mood, help regulate metabolism, as well as help in preventing diabetes and inflammation. Most of us need more than our food provides, so I recommend a high-quality supplement to make up the difference.
- Special methylation factors like folate, B6 and B12
Methylation is a key biochemical process that is essential for the proper function of almost all of our body systems. It occurs billions of times every second; it helps repair your DNA on a daily basis; it controls homocysteine (an unhealthy compound that can damage blood vessels); it helps recycle molecules needed for detoxification; and it helps maintain mood and keep inflammation in check. To keep methylation running smoothly, we need optimal levels of B vitamins. Without enough, methylation breaks down, and the results can be catastrophic. A multivitamin contains some B vitamins, but I find many patients do well taking an additional B-complex multivitamin.
These beneficial bacteria can improve your digestion, reduce food allergies and reduce gut inflammation. And though you may not know it, gut health actually plays a powerful role in brain health. When you don’t have the right gut diversity, inflammation and things like leaky brain can occur, setting the stage for diverse problems ranging from brain fog to dementia.
Supplements To Address Specific Brain Conditions
I often recommend daily supplements beyond the basic nutrients which address specific brain conditions. These include:
- Glutathione precursors
This amazing antioxidant recycles other antioxidants, which are critical for cleaning up free radicals in the body. When left unchecked, these free radicals lead to massive cell destruction (including brain cells). It’s also possible to get glutathione naturally by eating cruciferous-rich vegetables like broccoli or collards. Additionally, supplements such as lipoic acid, N-acetyl-cysteine and quality grass-fed whey protein can all serve as precursors to help your body make glutathione.
- Supplements to support your mitochondria
These little power plants can be found in nearly all your cells and they perform essential functions in helping to fuel your brain and body. Nutritional deficiencies, low levels of antioxidants, exposure to toxins, allergens, infections and stress can all damage your mitochondria. To optimize mitochondria, include L-carnitine, NADH, lipoic acid and coenzyme Q10. Without these key nutrients, your mitochondria will have a much more difficult time producing energy, compounding the problems they face from the onslaught of ever more free radicals. Your brain cells will fire more slowly, your metabolism slows and your ability to process toxins shuts down.
- Supplements to help with anxiety and depression
Mood disorders like anxiety and depression are at epic levels today. Fortunately, there are several supplement options to address these brain conditions. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a nutrient that calms brain overload that arises from too much of the neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine. When you have low levels of GABA, it is harder for you to relax after your body has released these excitatory neurotransmitters. Other daily supplements that can improve conditions like depression and anxiety are L-theanine (an amino acid in green tea), 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), inositol (usually found as a powder) and herbs like Rhodiola rosea.
Note: when choosing supplements, you should always choose high-quality products. Not all supplements are created equal, and the wrong ones—those with things like potentially reactive fillers or inferior forms of nutrients—can cause more harm than good in your body.
Sound complicated? You don’t necessarily need to go it alone. If you need more guidance on how to add in more foods and supplements to improve your health, consider working with a functional medicine practitioner to address your body’s specific supplement needs. You will find that a combination of a healthy diet, along with some key supplements will improve your health and contribute to a healthy brain.
For more information about Dr. Hyman and his Broken Brain Series, go to Dr.Hyman.com
Learn more about science-backed, hands-on strategies to figure out what to eat change your life through what you eat in Dr. Mark Hyman’s new book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?