Neurotransmitters are chemicals released from the brain that communicate information throughout our bodies. They relay signals between our neurons, or our nerve cells.
Our brains use neurotransmitters to tell our hearts to beat, our lungs to breathe, and our intestines to digest food. Neurotransmitters tell our bodies to take our hand off a hot stove. They also affect mood, sleep, concentration and body weight, and they can cause adverse effects on these physiological functions when they are out of balance. The inability to make enough neurotransmitters leads to poor decision-making and the inability to think clearly. It would be impossible to drive a car, for example, because our reflexes wouldn’t respond in time to avoid dangerous situations.
As we age, the amounts of neurotransmitters our brains make is reduced, which leads to further cognitive impairment with aging. Starting in early adulthood, neurotransmitter production declines by as much as 10 percent per year. This decrease could be greater for people whose diets are lacking essential nutrients.
Essential nutrients that make neurotransmitters include the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan, choline, vitamins B6, B12, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and vitamin C.
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