In an article just published in the journal Neurology (online version, 12-28-11), researchers identified three nutrient biomarker patterns (NBP) in blood that are linked to how well we think and reason.
Two NBPs showed favorable connections, included the plasma B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, folate, and B12), vitamins C, D and E, and marine omega-3 fatty acids.
A third NBP identifying high trans fats in the blood, documented poorer cognitive performance.
About 100 healthy elderly adults participated in the study and went through a battery of neuropsychologic tests of memory and thinking skills. A subgroup (about 40 people) also went through MRI scans to measure brain volume. Participants with strong vitamin BCD and E levels scored higher in attention, visuospatial skills and executive functioning (decision making, goal setting, reasoning, etc). They also demonstrated more total brain volume in MRI scans. Those with higher marine omega-3 fatty acid levels, also scored better in executive functioning.
Conversely, participants with high levels of trans fats, demonstrated worse overall functioning in the areas of attention, memory, language, and processing speed. They also had decreased levels of total cerebral brain volume.
Trans fats as well as saturated fats are poison. They clog our arteries which in turn increases our risk of heart attack and stroke. The vitamins looked at in this study and omega-3 fatty acids, are the good guys. To learn more, read chapter 17 ("Brain Food") of our book, Your Brain After Chemo. There you'll find information on brain-friendly antioxidants, fish oil supplements versus eating seafood to raise levels of omega-3 fats in our diets, and how colorful fruits and vegetables help stimulate the mind.