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Improve Mental Alertness Nutritionally Without Caffeine

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Adverse Effects vs Positive Effects of Caffeine

Fatigue & Mental Slump Are Adverse Effects of Caffeine

Support Mental Clarity With Tyrosine
Credit: Arale66

Avoid the Adverse Effects of Caffeine

Tyrosine – A Healthier Alternative for Alertness

 

Mental alertness is an intangible asset that has supported Man's survival  through the ages.   In today's fast-paced competitive  life style, mental alertness, mental alacrity,  and the ability to concentrate remain  indispensable for success.  But are there nutritional alternatives to caffeine for  improving  mental  alertness so that the adverse effects of caffeine can be avoided?

  To maintain or improve mental alertness and focus many people resort to  a habitual consumption of caffeine-containing beverages. This habit often commences with a cup of coffee  in the morning before the person faces the new day. The adverse effects of this nutritional approach, such  as mental slump  and fatigue are often overlooked in this drive to improve mental alertness.  The  fast-acting quality  of caffeine is the important attribute that makes caffeinated drinks attractive to most people.  Most  caffeine-free nutritional alternatives for mental alertness are even overlooked because of this pharmaceutical action of caffeine.  Is it a mistake to choose caffeine over the slower-acting alternatives that are more effective in the long run?  

 Adverse Effects of Caffeine

 The biggest concern of caffeine is its ability to produce cardiac arrhythmia, albeit, minor rhythm disturbances. The human body seems to tolerate caffeine reasonably well when this stimulant is consumed in moderation. The caffeine-induced  rhythm disturbance is usually transient and unremarkable.  In  fact, many people do not see this minor rhythm disturbance as  a significant health risk factor.  In spite of this, the concern  is  properly grounded because arrhythmia is one of the primary  causes of sudden death, and a minor rhythm disturbance  can trigger a full-blown arrhythmia, including lethal arrhythmia. 

 Although caffeine is a time-tested edible, the current consumption pattern,  including  the consumption of high  concentrations in some beverages, puts the merits of this time-tested stimulant in question.  Some of the other concerns besides arrhythmia are shown below. 

l  Fatigue and tiredness  - caffeine consumption may be the key factor that keeps most people tired after the alerting effects wear off

l  Irritability

l  Restlessness

l  Headache

l  Impaired mentation – mental slump

l  Secretion  of excessive amounts of stomach acid and gastrointestinal discomfort

l  Impairment of sleep (insomnia) which delays recovery and restoration of normal cognitive functions

l  Nervousness 

l  Increased  risk of osteoporosis

l  Increased frequency of urination

l  Increased  blood pressure

Promotion of an imbalance in myocardial oxygen supply and demand.  Caffeine constricts the  coronary arteries while it increases  myocardial contractility.  An increase in myocardial contractility increases cardiac work and oxygen demand.  On the other hand, constriction of coronary arteries lowers oxygen supply to the heart  muscle.  This imbalance in oxygen supply relative to the need can produce angina pectoris (an ischemic problem). This adverse effect usually does not materialize because adenosine and other local metabolic vasodilators can successfully counteract it.   In spite of this, it is a mistake to overestimate the safety margin for caffeine. 

 These numerous adverse effects make it reasonable to consume caffeine infrequently and cautiously.   One may restrict  caffeine consumption only for emergency purposes. Emergency purposes may be defined as situations of short durations that require high levels of mental clarity.  Alternatively, one may avoid situations and activities that demand levels of mental focus that can only be sustained with caffeine or a similar stimulant. 

 Improve Mental Alertness With Tyrosine  

 Tyrosine is an amino acid that boosts your energy and supports metal alertness.   Tyrosine is used to synthesize the neurotransmitters  (norepinephrine and dopamine)  that boost your energy and  improve mental alertness.  These neurotransmitters also improve your mood. When there is abundance of these neurotransmitters your brain has adequate resources to remain alert and focused. Your brain  can tap into this resources when they are needed. 

 Caffeine  works differently from tyrosine.  Caffeine forces your neuronal terminals to release the available neurotransmitters.  It does not help your brain  to build up the resources that keep you alert.  Consequently, caffeine can exhaust the  resources that keep you alert  and you may experience  post caffeine mental slump. Proper nutrition, time and quality sleep are helpful for  recovering from  caffeine-induced mental slump. 

 Improve Mental Sharpness With Vitamin B-12 and Folic Acid

 Vitamin B-12 and folic acid (vitamin B-9) are prominent members of  the vitamins that promote mental alertnessAttention is often focused on  the role of vitamin B-12 when discussing the  issue of memory, alertness and other cognitive functions because of the prevalence of vitamin B -12  deficiency.  We  become prone to this deficiency as  we grow older. This vitamin deficiency contributes to dementia and other cognitive problems that are associated with aging.  Poor absorption of vitamin B-12 from the intestine is often the  primary cause of this deficiency.

 Improve Alertness With Iron and Zinc

 Zinc  and iron are  essential trace minerals that improve alertness and mental focus.  Zinc facilitates the communication between brain cells. This promotes improved memory and other cognitive functions.  The effect of iron is indirect and basic.  Iron  supports  the availability of oxygen for the brain.  Availability of oxygen and proper nutrients are important for alertness and proper functioning of the brain.

 Improve Mental Sharpness With Alpha Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  Improvement in alertness and other cognitive functions are among the numerous beneficial health effects of alpha omega-3 fatty acids.   Some of the nutritional sources of alpha omega-3 fatty acid are shown below. 

l  Salmon

l  Shrimp

l  Tuna

l  Sardines

l  Krill

l  Almonds

l  Walnuts

l  Hazel  nuts

l  Flax seeds

Improve Mental Stamina With Coconut Oil 

 Coconut  oil is another good oil that can improve your mental stamina.  It supports alertness by being an alternative  metabolic fuel  for the brain.  Under most conditions, the brain uses only glucose for energy.  When  the level of blood sugar goes down, brain fog, poor concentration and diminished metal alertness can result, because the brain does not function properly when its source of energy is depleted or impaired. 

 This condition of low blood sugar can arise in a person when  blood sugar is poorly controlled.   Coconut oil can alleviate this problem by  serving as an  alternative energy source for the brain.   Coconut oil  is  an alternative  energy  source that can support mental alertness and focus.

  Coconut oil is  unique from other oils and nutrients because the brain can use it to meet its energy needs.  Coconut oil is a medium length fatty acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and provide energy for the brain.   The blood-brain barrier is a structural barrier (membrane structure) that prevents most substances from entering the brain cells.   Coconut oil and  ketones (acetoacetic acid and beta hydroxybuteric acid) are the only nutrients other than glucose  that can cross the blood-brain barrier.  Ketone bodies are by-products of  fatty acid  degradation that  usually become available for utilization during  starvation  or when a person is on a low carb diet.

Alpha Omega -3 Fatty Acid For Good Health

Salmon – A Good Source of Alpha Omega-3 Fatty Acid

Alpha Omega-3 Fatty Acid For  Mental Alertness
Credit: Walter Baxter
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Bibliography

  1. . Joshua W Miller "Assessing the association between vitamin B-12 status and cognitive function in older adults .." American Society for Clinical Nutrition. 84 no. 6 (2006): 1259-1260.
  2. Simpson, Ellen E. A. et al. ". Effect of Zinc Supplementaion on Cognitive Function in Healthy Middle-Aged and Older Adults: the ZENITH Study." . British Journal of Nutrition. 96 (2006): ): 752- 76.
  3. . Enhi Pan et al. "Vesicular Zinc Promotes Presynaptic and Inhibits Postsynaptic Long-Term Potentiation of Mossy Fiber CA3 Synapse.." Neuron. 76 . (2011): 1116 – 1126,.

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