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Q
Clearing Mental Cobwebs?

What is your opinion of Cerefolin as a treatment for mental confusion?

A
Answer (Published 8/21/2009)

I wasn't familiar with this prescription drug, so I consulted with David Perlmutter, M.D., a neurologist in Florida. He noted that while there is no research specifically on Cerefolin and mental acuity, it could be worthwhile because it contains compounds that have been shown to lower homocysteine, a toxic amino acid. The components of Cerefolin that have been proven in other studies to improve cognitive function are folate, vitamin B12 and NAC (N-acetyl-L-cysteine), all of which Dr. Perlmutter said are good for brain health.

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Homocysteine is a breakdown product of protein metabolism that has been linked to heart attacks and strokes. Some evidence suggests that people with high homocysteine levels have twice the normal risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Perlmutter said that elevated levels of homocysteine are also a risk factor for cognitive dysfunction (homocysteine is a metabolite of methionine, one of the essential amino acids in human nutrition). Blood levels of homocysteine tend to be highest in people who eat a lot of animal protein and few fruits and leafy vegetables.

An inadequate intake of B vitamins, as well as genetic factors that affect the body's absorption and use of folic acid, can lead to high homocysteine levels. Should this be the case, you need more folic acid than the RDA of 400 mcg. Other contributors to elevated homocysteine levels include stress and coffee consumption. The more coffee you drink, the higher your homocysteine levels are likely to be.

To keep them low, I recommend increasing your intake of B vitamins and moderating stress. The richest food sources of folate (the form of folic acid found in food) are green vegetables, orange juice and beans. I also recommend taking a multivitamin that gives you 400 micrograms of supplemental folic acid. (Some people might absorb this vitamin better in supplement form, and I consider this good insurance.) To reduce stress, practice breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and other forms of relaxation.

For optimum health, I recommend following my anti-inflammatory diet, which limits total protein intake to between 80 and 120 grams (three to four ounces) daily from fish, beans, whole soy and dairy products.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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