Thoughtfully navigating brain health and Bredesen Protocol™ supplements
The “Basic Plan” in Dr. Bredesen’s book describes dozens of so-called “neuroceuticals” that have demonstrated efficacy to enhance brain health in human clinical trials. A doctor trained in the Bredesen Protocol™ can prescribe selected supplements from that list depending on each patient’s unique needs.
For those of us preventing cognitive decline and not under the supervision of a Bredesen-trained medical practitioner, thoughtfully choosing supplements (or not) can be tricky. I will outline a few general considerations below.
Ultimately, before starting or discontinuing any supplement, you should first consult a qualified healthcare professional.
Supplements are by definition “supplementary”
To quote Dr. Bredesen, “Supplements-only just doesn’t work.” No matter how many excellent supplements you take, your brain health can’t improve without addressing diet/lifestyle aspects that underlie your condition and getting medical intervention as necessary.
Supplements may boost a healthy diet and lifestyle or be taken as a temporary therapy or to fill an identified nutritional deficiency. Supplements should NOT be used as a crutch to avoid needed changes in diet and lifestyle.
In functional medicine, supplements are often prescribed to help the body heal itself. Too little or too much of these supplemental factors can upset the body’s balance. We especially don’t want to overdo fat-soluble supplements that can build up in the body.
If you have digestive issues, absorption of oral supplements and nutrients from food can be poor. Nutrient deficiencies can be a signal to resolve gut health issues over the long-term. You don’t want to waste costly supplements without fixing gut problems; you just end up generating expensive pee. To bypass poor gut absorption, some Bredesen Protocol™ supplements can be taken in sublingual, intravenous, or inhaled form.
Determining which (if any) of the dozens of Bredesen Protocol™ supplements are right for you
Dr. Bredesen is an early adopter in prescribing many of the supplements identified in his book. To quote him, he’s “flying the plane while we’re building it”. The final verdicts on the overall effectiveness and long-term side effects of most of these supplements are still up in the air.
The risk-reward calculations of taking various Bredesen Protocol™ supplements and decisions about incurring the added expense are different for someone trying to immediately treat a diagnosis of pre-Alzheimer’s disease than for someone interested in prevention over decades to come. Often, during the initial intense phase of therapy for cognitive impairment, multiple supplements are utilized until retesting reveals whether to maintain, reduce the dose, or discontinue supplements.
Dr. Bredesen mentions forty-seven supplements in his book, but you need only the supplements targeted to root causes of your particular multi-factoral condition. If you are already experiencing cognitive decline, consult a ReCODE Report Qualified™ doctor or nutritionist to prescribe which of these supplements would meet your unique needs. If you are already taking a huge number of supplements, paring down may be a conversation to include in that consultation.
Not everyone at the stage of preventing dementia and optimizing brain health needs lots of supplements. Although you may have gotten a different impression from his book, Dr. Bredesen has said that only a few supplements are generally needed within the holistic Bredesen Protocol™ for prevention of cognitive decline.
The numerous ReCODE Report Qualified™ doctors I”ve worked with most commonly prescribe:
- a professional-grade multivitamin-multimineral (with B-complex),
- a high quality source of omega-3 (DHA and EPA),
- vitamin D with K2 when a blood test reveals insufficiency,
- a gentle form of magnesium,
- a probiotic if not eating fermented foods,
- MCT oil (often only temporarily while adapting to a ketogenic version of the Ketoflex™ diet)
Healthy diet and lifestyle reduces the need for the aforementioned supplements. Someone at the stage of prevention getting ample sunshine exposure and eating a diverse, nutrient-rich, low-carb diet that includes fatty cold-water fish, green veggies, and fermented foods might get adequate vitamin D, minerals (including magnesium), other vitamins (including the B vitamins), omega-3’s, probiotics, and into mild ketosis may not require supplements.
As a ReCODE Report Qualified™ health coach, I educate about the general conditions when each Bredesen Protocol™ supplement is indicated, timing, options for specific high-quality supplement products with comparative pricing, general dosage range, and other diet and lifestyle options to fulfill the need instead of taking a supplement. For instance, I may point ApoE4 carriers to recent research suggesting that lyso-phosphatidylcholine-DHA may be the best type of DHA supplement when ApoE4+ (RP Patrick, FASEB J, 2019 Feb: 33(2): 1554-1564) because this form is actively transported across the blood-brain barrier and is the most bioavailable form of DHA for the brain. Fish roe is an excellent source of lyso-PC-DHA.
It’s easy to get caught up in the marketing of novel brain health supplements that have demonstrated only a tiny marginal benefit…yet falsely marketed as if optimizing your cognition is just a matter of swallowing the right pills.
When preventing cognitive decline, it’s usually wiser to shift your attention to the foundational Bredesen Protocol™ diet and lifestyle practices. Healthy diet and lifestyle are more effective and powerful to prevent chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s, than any combination of supplements and prescription medications that money can buy.
On the other hand, those striving for reversal of cognitive impairment often need more therapeutic supplements targeted to their individual condition as prescribed by a doctor. When feeling desperate to treat cognitive decline, you may research supplements online yourself and start believing in claims that are largely unfounded. A Bredesen-trained clinician devoted to brain healthcare and/or your personalized ReCODE Report™ will guide you to supplements with the most demonstrated clinical efficacy for the patient subgroup with similar underlying factors.
As part of my mission to make the Bredesen Protocol™ more accessible, everyone who works with me can take advantage of the discounts I offer on high-quality, high-value supplements purchased from Fullscript and Thorne, including a 30% discount off the retail prices of eighteen of Dr. Bredesen’s recommended core Cytoplan brand supplements. My hope is that the money you save on supplements will be invested in coaching to advance your brain healthy diet and lifestyle that will have a greater positive impact the course of your life.
All the selected supplements on my Fullscript and Thorne dispensaries meet high standards. When selecting supplements to purchase elsewhere, check the inactive ingredients on the bottles. For instance, many of the cheaper MCT powders sold have significant amounts of added dextrose (sugar) and casein (isolated milk protein)–ingredients that make them more palatable but excluded from a strict Ketoflex™ diet. Supplements may not be a good deal when nutrients are in their less bioavailable form.
Light, heat, and moisture are kryptonite to many supplements. The fragile bioactive compounds need protection. Take care not to leave the supplement containers unsealed for any longer than necessary or left in a hot environment. And leave the tiny silicone bag inside to keep the humidity low.
If you are working with a Bredesen-trained doctor, please follow their supplement recommendations and use them as your source for supplements. To make thoughtful, informed decisions, seek personalized medical advice on the best supplements for your unique case.
The product recommendations in my dispensaries reflect enhanced bioavailabilty, quality ingredients without excipients, good value, and brands recommended by Dr. Bredesen. If you are in my support group, group coaching program, or one-on-one coaching and would like access to better pricing on Bredesen Protocol™ supplements, please make your request for access to Fullscript.com or Thorne.com using the form below.
- Fullscript offers the largest catalog of professional-grade supplements. My Fullscript dispensary lists more than sixty curated discounted supplements.
- Thorne is a top manufacturer of a wide array of reasonably-priced, high-quality supplements with pure ingredients.