Supple-mental Advice

While your brain’s electric pulses produce enough energy to power a lightbulb, they can be tripped up by mental potholes — causing everything from misplaced keys and forgotten birthdays to more severe memory lapses, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Sharpen your mind with some of these tips:

Challenge your intellect. Take up a musical instrument or learn a foreign language. Tapping unused parts of your brain stimulates cellular growth and connections. Or tease your mind with puzzles, crosswords, and games that test your mental prowess — which improves recollection and reaction times.

Stock up on key nutrients. Studies find that antioxidants not only combat free radicals that hinder cognitive function, they regenerate already damaged tissue. Foods with high Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) ratings include berries (specifically blueberries and blackberries), black plums, pecans, walnuts, raw spinach, and cooked artichokes. In addition, deficiencies in vitamin B12 and iron have been found to slow biochemical processes in the brain. And studies show that both DHA (an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid) and folic acid boost cerebral performance.

Stay physically active. Whether you play tennis, walk, or take aerobic classes, you’ll buff more than your body. Physical activity increases blood flow to your head, which brings oxygen and nutrients to your cells. One study found that coordinated movement like dancing actually slowed mental decline in senior citizens.

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