Part of an ongoing series on how to use supplement and behavior-based plans to treat common maladies. To read the detailed supplement plan, order supplements, or download the patient resource sheets, go here to create a free patient account at Fullscript by entering your name and email address: Dr. Mark McDonald’s Fullscript dispensary

In discussing diet, we often focus on macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. For brain health, though, an adequate intake of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is essential.

The most common neurologic diseases are associated with an insufficient intake of micronutrients.

Alzheimers progresses more rapidly when selenium, copper, and zinc are lacking. These micronutrients lower homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine causes cognitive impairment and vascular disease. Additionally, Alzheimers is associated with low levels of vitamin A, B, and D, none of which can be adequately consumed through food alone.

Parkinsons, as well, progresses more rapidly with low vitamin D. When vitamin D is low, the neurons that produce dopamine die. Vitamin B1, B6, and B12 (folate) are all associated with Parkinsons. Low levels appear to advance the onset of disease.

ALS and MS, both neuromuscular diseases, worsen with low vitamin D levels.

All neurologic disease is mediated by insufficient omega-3 fatty acids, which provide the nutritional substrate for the manufacture of glial cells, the “fatty” support cells that make up the bulk of our brain and peripheral nervous system.

To some degree, diet can provide necessary micronutrients to aid brain health. Fish, meat, and dairy contain high concentrations of vitamin A, B, and D; selenium, copper, and zinc. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to consume enough daily to ensure adequate levels of micronutrients. If any of these food groups are under-represented (or not represented at all) in your diet, consider supplementing. Below is a list of supplements and what micronutrients they provide:

Vitamin D: vitamin D
Cod liver oil: vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids
Fish oil: omega-3 fatty acids
Vitamin B complex: vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12 (folate)
Beef liver: vitamin B12, copper, selenium, zinc

I provide a detailed plan that includes specific supplements for each micronutrient need for brain health in my Fullscript dispensary. Click on the link below to go directly to the brain health supplement plan.