08 July, 2011
Wheatgrass for Brain Health
Wheatgrass products contain nutrients that are essential for the health of your brain. They’re high in vitamin K, which supports brain cell growth and keeps cells working normally. Wheatgrass also supplies the vitamin C and folate required to produce neurotransmitters. Be careful when shopping for wheatgrass because you’ll find very diverse amounts of nutrients from one brand to the next. If you take anticoagulant medication such as warfarin, talk to your doctor before taking wheatgrass.
Wheatgrass comes from sprouted wheat seeds that are seven to 10 days old. The young grass is fibrous and hard to digest, so juice is extracted from the leaves. The juice is usually dried and sold in tablet or powder form. The dehydrated forms are more concentrated and have more nutrients than juice.
When you buy wheatgrass products, compare the nutrition information on the label. Some brands only report the amount of dried wheatgrass in a dose, which doesn’t give you a clue about nutritional content. Go with brands that list the amount of each vitamin and mineral so you know exactly how much nutrition you're getting.
Vitamin K Supports Brain Cells and Nerves
Vitamin K is essential for producing a protein that supports the growth of brain cells. The same protein also regulates cells that synthesize the myelin sheath, which is an outer covering on nerve cells. Nerves can’t function without the myelin sheath because it insulates and regulates electrical impulses.
The brain needs vitamin K to synthesize a group of fats called sphingolipids. These specialized fats help build cell membranes, control the growth of brain cells and ensure communication between cells.
Depending on the wheatgrass product you use, a serving may supply 60 percent to 200 percent of the daily value of vitamin K, based on consuming 2,000 calories daily.
If you take medications to prevent blood clots, don't add this much vitamin K to your diet until you consult your doctor.
Vitamin C for Antioxidant Protection
The concentration of vitamin C in the brain is up to 100 times higher than anywhere else in your body, reports the Franklin Institute. As a potent antioxidant, vitamin C protects the brain from free radicals, which would otherwise damage your brain cells.
Vitamin C also helps your brain produce two neurotransmitters: dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters contribute to motivation, level of alertness, ability to concentrate and memory.
Most brands of wheatgrass are good sources of vitamin C. Two brands of wheatgrass tablets report 12 percent and 20 percent of the daily value, while other brands of powders have 23 percent to 107 percent of the daily value.
Folate Supports Memory
The amount of folate in a dose of wheatgrass ranges from 9 percent to about 40 percent of the daily value. Together with vitamin C, folate has a role in the synthesis of dopamine and norepinephrine. It's also essential for producing serotonin, which regulates mood.
A deficiency in folate contributes to memory problems, notes the University of Washington. When researchers studied information from postmenopausal women, they found that consuming less than the recommended daily intake of folate could increase the risk of developing cognitive impairment or dementia later in life, reported the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in February 2015.
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Wheat Grass
- Advances in Nutrition: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
- Franklin Institute: The Human Brain: Nourish -- Micronutrients
- Franklin Institute: The Human Brain: Nourish -- Proteins
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Folate, Vitamin B-6, and Vitamin B-12 Intake and Mild Cognitive Impairment and Probably Dementia in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study
- Journal of Clinical Psychiatry: Folate in Depression: Efficacy, Safety, Differences in Formulations, and Clinical Issues
- University of Washington: Nutrient Effects on Nervous System
- National Institutes of Health: Important Information to Know When You Are Taking Coumadin and Vitamin K
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