5 Nutrients I Take Every Day to Protect My Brain

Updated: Apr 18, 2020


What it is

L-methylfolate is the active form of folic acid and it plays a critical role in neurotransmitter synthesis. An enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR for short) is responsible for converting folic acid into L-methylfolate.

Why I take it

Like an estimated 31% to 39% of Caucasians, I carry the C677T MTHFR polymorphism or gene variant. I also carry another MTHFR gene variant which is slightly less common. Because of these two gene variants, I have a severely reduced ability to convert folic acid and dietary folate into L-methylfolate.

Research shows that these MTHFR variants elevate homocysteine levels in the body, especially in the elderly. Homocysteine damages DNA and causes neuronal cell death. Neurons are the basic working unit of the brain; they are specialized cells that transmit nerve impulses.

Where I get it

The next time I go for my annual checkup (it was scheduled for 1 April but was canceled due to COVID-19) I will request a prescription for L-methylfolate, even though it is readily available in many health food and nutrition stores. I prefer to get a prescription because the FDA regulates prescription drugs and they have very strict controls on quality and efficacy. For now, I just get them from my local Vitamin Shoppe.


What it is

Resveratrol is a natural polyphenolic compound found in grapes, mulberries, and other plants. Polyphenols are micronutrients that are packed with antioxidants and other health benefits. Taken as a supplement, it is generally safe and well-tolerated.

Why I take it

Resveratrol is anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and brain-protective. Research shows that it protects neurons against oxidative damage and toxicity. It also helps neurons live out their full life cycle.

Resveratrol is proven to alter the biomarker trajectories of Alzheimer’s disease and to protect the integrity of the blood-brain barrier. It also helps modulate the immune response of our central nervous system.

Where I get it

When possible, I buy vitamins and other supplements from Shaklee. I grew up getting Shaklee vitamins for birthdays and Christmas; my grandmother was a top seller at the company. Shaklee is a health and wellness company that has been around since the 1960s.

My dad inherited my grandma’s Shaklee business when she passed away, and I just order through my own member account under that umbrella. It saves me about 15% off all purchases and my dad gets to make a little money off my health habits.

The biggest reason why I buy Shaklee is that I trust the company and their products are top-notch.

Shaklee’s resveratrol product is called Vivix. It’s a little pricey and makes up the majority of my monthly supplement expenses…but it’s worth it. I used to take the liquid version but changed over to liquigels a few months ago to cut out the extra sugar.


What it is

Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) refers to three nutrients that our bodies need for good health but cannot synthesize: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). These are known as the Omega-3 fatty acids.

DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood, which ALA is found mainly in plant oils.

Why I take it

Since our bodies can’t make EFA’s, we have to consume them. The Western diet is typically deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids and since I eat a primarily vegan diet, I have to take supplements.

Dozens of studies show that reduced levels/intake of Omega 3 fatty acids is associated with increased risk for cognitive decline or dementia. Research shows that increased consumption and blood levels of DHA appears to protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Research also shows EPA to have anti-inflammatory and neuronal proactive functions.

Taken as a whole, studies on essential fatty acids have somewhat mixed results, meaning that they have not been definitively proven to reduce the risk of dementia across the board. But even if they don’t end up protecting me against dementia, EFA’s provide a variety of health benefits beyond cognitive and neuronal protection.

Where I get it

Again, I get my essential fatty acids from Shaklee since they are pharmaceutical grade and provide a full spectrum of seven Omega-3 EFA’s. The supplement is called OmegaGuard and I like that it doesn’t give me an oily, fishy taste afterward.


What it is

Lecithin is a major dietary source of choline, which the body turns into acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. Acetylcholine is responsible for memory storage and retrieval as well as nerve signals relating to mood, muscle control, and other brain and central nervous system tasks.

Why I take it

Studies show that people with Alzheimer’s disease have a lack of the enzyme responsible for converting choline into acetylcholine within the brain. Lecithin is a major dietary source of choline and so consuming more lecithin may reduce the risk of dementia.

Lecithin is also known to help the body better absorb nutrients including vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Where I get it

Once again, Shaklee sells pharmaceutical-grade Lecithin for a very reasonable price. Plus, it (and the rest of my supplements) are auto shipped to my house every month.

Vitamin D3

What it is

Vitamin D refers to a group of fat-soluble vitamins that are produced by the skin in response to sunlight. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, magnesium, phosphate and many other critical biological functions. Vitamin D3 is known as cholecalciferol and, which is one of the most important forms of vitamin D for the human body.

Why I take it

My annual physical last year showed I was deficient in vitamin D and since research shows that vitamin D deficiency correlates with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease…I supplement.

There are several dietary sources of Vitamin D3 including salmon, tuna, mackerel, beef liver, and egg yolks…but I eat a largely plant-based diet. Vitamin D is also available in fortified orange juice, milk, and cereal but those are not foods that I personally consume on a regular basis. Of course, my body makes vitamin D...but I don’t want to spend so much time getting sunlight on my skin that I develop skin cancer.

Where I get it

Again, Shaklee. Like my other Shaklee supplements, Vita-D3 is pharmaceutical grade and is shipped to our door every month.

This information is for educational and informational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

If you decide to try out Shaklee and want to sign up as a member, please consider using my dad as your distributor. He is a disabled veteran who lives on a fixed income and would be very grateful for the chance to serve you. You can reach me at tamara@vitav.org if you would like to get his contact information.

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