Cognitive Function: An intellectual process by which one becomes aware of, perceives, or comprehends ideas. It involves all aspects of perception, thinking, reasoning, and remembering.
Many of us are concerned about cognitive function. The growing population of adults over 55 continues to drive more interest in cognitive health. However, the desire to support of brain function isn’t exclusive to older consumers, as younger people, including Millennials are taking more personal interest in their health. Additionally, more emphasis has been placed on the need for proper nutrition during pregnancy, in order to deliver infants with well-developed brain function.
The decline in cognitive function has been tied in many cases, to a poor intake of essential minerals that have been shown to support brain health. In this newsletter, we will focus on the minerals that play key roles in cognitive function. In this edition, we take a closer look at calcium and iron.
A 2016 study published in MedicineNet.com demonstrated that calcium serves wide ranging functions as a messenger in many cellular processes, including brain activity and plasticity. Brain plasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself throughout life. It allows neurons in the brain to compensate for injury and disease, and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or changes in the environment. These processes are critical to spatial memory formation and storage. Calcium ions transmit important intracellular signals that help regulate brain activity. A 2014 study from Antioxid Redox Signal showed that an altered calcium release channel may contribute to the abnormal memory processes that occur during aging and the neuron death seen in degenerative brain diseases.
Iron is essential for normal brain function. It is an important component of hundreds of proteins and enzymes involved in cellular metabolism. Iron deficiency in the very young can lead to permanent learning and memory deficits, impaired cognitive function, as well as emotional problems. The myelin layer or sheath serves as a protective coating for nerve cells. Iron is needed for the development of brain cells that produce myelin, demonstrated in a 2012 study published in The Scientist. Myelin has high levels of iron, and myelin increases the speed at which impulses travel along neurons. Iron is also an important component of several enzymes that synthesize neurotransmitters. A 2011 study in Advanced Nutrition showed that iron also plays an important role in learning and memory.
Look for the next newsletter from Albion Human Nutrition: Supporting Brain Function with Minerals: Part 2.