In the weeks that follow, starting now, we’re going to guide you in taking simple steps to increase your intake of brain -building brain fats.
Your brain is literally built out of fat, which makes up 60% of its dry weight. But over 90% of the structural fat in your brain is what’s called ‘phosphorylated DHA’. DHA is an omega-3 fat (oily fish are particularly rich in DHA). It must be attached to a phospholipid such as phosphatidyl choline (rich in eggs), to make brain cells. That attachment is achieved by B vitamin-dependent methylation (see B VITAMIN domain).
© Patrick Holford
In the weeks that follow we’re going to show you exactly how much omega-3 DHA you need, where you can get it from and, if you don’t eat fish, what you need to supplement with, since DHA can be sourced from seaweed and algae.
We are also going to show you what you need to eat for phospholipids, which have strange names such as ‘phosphatidyl choline’ or ‘phosphatidyl serine’, or supplements if you’re vegan, since eggs and seafood are the only significant food sources.
As you can see in the diagram above cholesterol is a vital part of your brain and we’ll be exploring the different kinds of cholesterol, how to interpret a cholesterol test and why too little is bad news for cognition and dementia risk.
Another very important brain fat, which is actually a hormone, is vitamin D. It is primarily made in the skin with exposure to sunlight. That’s why you need more in the winter, if you don’t get outdoors or have darker skin. We’ll be exploring whether you’re getting enough, how to test for vitamin D, the best foods and supplements to optimise your vitamin D level. Also, you’ll learn about other nutrients that help vitamin D to work.
The benefits from increasing brain fats are often experienced within days but it takes a few weeks to settle into diet and lifestyle habits to optimise your intake of brain fats. For now, think about what you eat that could provide omega-3 and phospholipids. In the emails that follow you’ll discover which foods are the best, and how much you need to eat, or supplement, if you are a non-fish or egg eater.