Friday, October 21, 2011

Nutrition Affects Brain Function by Paula Stone

It’s not just your body that needs good nutrition.

This fact was brought home to me in a big way while one of my good friends was receiving treatment for breast cancer.

She was enduring another round of chemotherapy. I called her nearly every day to see how she was doing.

And there was a detectable change in her and her voice. She was confused and had slurred speech.

I was so concerned I called her husband at work and started interviewing him about her medication, or if she was drinking or what might be going on with her.

After we had eliminated all other possibilities I told her husband to have her doctor check her for B vitamins.

But I was still surprised when I turned out to be right.

She was severely, dangerously low in B vitamins because she was unable to eat. This is a problem for many cancer patients.

She was hospitalized so they could give her B vitamins intravenously. She immediately started to sound better, more like her old self.

A person who is low in this nutrient may appear drunk and will certainly be confused. B’s make brains and nerves work.

Pregnant women who are deficient in B vitamins are more at risk of having a baby with nerve or neural tube birth defects like spina bifida and others.

And getting the nutrients we need is getting more difficult.

People may not know how to cook or they may be too ill to cook and eat.

So patients and lots of other people, too, fall back on fast food and prepared foods that may have few nutrients and lots of salt, sugar and fat.

And seniors do this, too. How much of the mental confusion seniors have is just a vitamin deficiency?

No one knows for sure.

But if you or a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, ask your doctor do a little more checking. If blood levels of vitamins are lower than they should be, especially if the problem is B vitamins, it’s easily cured.

Being able to manage your life is dependent on good nutrition and eating well.

It might be a good idea to take some good supplements, too.

It will make your brain and your nerves stronger and help you maintain your treasured independence.