Your brain is an incredibly complicated machine. No one knows exactly how complex it is, but scientists estimate you have roughly 86 billion neurons and 85 billion nonneuronal brain cells. That means that in a piece of brain tissue the size of a grain of sand, you will find around 100,000 neurons, with over a billion synapses communicating with each other.
Because of this, neuroscientists are faced with the incredible challenge of making sure this complex machine runs smoothly. This is often much easier said than done. Due to the brain’s complexity, many pharmaceutical drugs on the market today try to fix problems with a wide-brush approach, increasing levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin across the whole brain.
Why Balance Is Important
However, while this sweeping, pharmaceutical approach will often help in the battle with complex problems like depression and anxiety, there are almost always side effects. For a happy brain, more important than the levels of any one neurotransmitter is the overall balance of neurotransmitters in the brain as a whole. With such a massive amount of neurons and synapses firing at once, we need to ensure they are all working together properly, and that means making sure each brain cell has all the ingredients it needs to run smoothly.
But, the balance of these incredibly important ingredients depends on a large number of factors; from your genes, to your diet, to how much time you spend outside. And sometimes, especially in young people, this balance isn’t quite perfect. This can make life much more difficult, leading to irritable, anxious, unfocused parents and kids.
What You Can Do
There are some things you can do to help balance your brain; one way is through supplementation with nutrients that support the production and function of neurotransmitters. Here are some suggestions.
- GABA – an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps calm overactive neurons, enhances mood and helps support restful sleep.
- 5-HTP – an extract from the African plant Griffonia Simplicifolia, 5-HTP is the precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a role in mood, sleep and appetite.
- L-Tyrosine – an important amino acid for the synthesis of many neurotransmitters, it is the precursor to norepinephrine and dopamine, which are important in balancing mood and energy.
- L-Glutamine – an amino acid important for the brain to make glutamate and GABA neurotransmitters. Glutamate is present in 80% of the brain’s nerve cell and plays a role in learning and memory processes as well as healthy mood management.
- Taurine – an amino acid that helps stabilize our nerve cell electrical activity and also promotes the performance of GABA and Glutamine neurotransmitter systems.
There are also other essential vitamins and amino acids that will help your brain establish a healthy equilibrium. Look for products that combine multiple nutrients for a well-rounded approach to brain health, and make sure you buy from quality-driven brands.