Nutrition and the brain

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By K K Jain MD

This article describes the role of the brain in nutrition as well as the disorders of the nervous system that result from nutritional disturbances. An example is folic acid deficiency, which has been linked to neural tube defects during early pregnancy. Dietary supplementation with folic acid can prevent neural tube defects. Several other vitamins, minerals, and nutrient factors have been used for the therapy of neurologic diseases, but the role of most of these has not been defined. Oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders. Several studies have shown that antioxidants can block neuronal death in vitro and in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases. Dietary supplementation with antioxidants could, thus, be considered beneficial as a preventive strategy.

Key Points

  • Nutrition plays an important role in the function of the brain.
  • Several neurologic disorders are due to nutritional disturbances.
  • An understanding of the mechanisms of actions of nutrients on the brain is important for the use of nutrients to prevent or treat neurologic disorders.