Nutrition: A Key Modulator of Cognitive Health

Nutrition is a key modulator of cognitive health. This is especially true for patients with a family history or increased genetic risk for neurodegenerative disease. Neuroprotective nutrition recommendations are safe and possible.

For instance, research suggests that dietary interventions that are high in phytochemicals and antioxidants may be neuroprotective and slow neurodegeneration.1-7 Furthermore, nutrition may play a key neuroprotective role in patients at risk of stroke,8 as well as slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease.2,7,9 In patients with multiple sclerosis, an anti-inflammatory diet with supplementation specific to the disease etiology has been well-tolerated and significantly reduced symptoms.3,4 An early adjustment of the nutritional approach used by a patient towards their diet isn’t simply complementary to any future treatments, it’s a valuable domain to increase patient education about their health and risks. That leads clinicians to an important question.

What specific nutrients and vitamins support cognitive health and reduce neurodegeneration? Several possibilities exist. In animal studies, a variety of vitamins and nutrients have protective effects on mitochondria, including CoQ10,10 acetylcarnitine,11 and resveratrol.11 In this video, IFM educator Robert Rountree, MD, explores the latest research on the coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD):

IFM educator Robert Rountree, MD, shares his perspective on NAD and its importance for mitochondrial health.

At IFM’s Energy Advanced Practice Module (APM), educators will present cutting-edge science around nutrition interventions. In particular, educators will focus on how to support the mitochondria, reduce fatigue, and protect neurons. Terry Wahls, MD, will present nutrition and lifestyle interventions to prevent and even reverse neurodegeneration, and you will walk out the door with tools and techniques to personalize nutrition treatment for neurodegeneration, fatigue, chronic pain, and much more.

Learn More About Mitochondrial Function


  1. Gómez-Pinilla F. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008;9(7):568-78. doi:1038/nrn2421.
  2. Seidl SE, Santiago JA, Bilyk H, Potashkin JA. The emerging role of nutrition in Parkinson’s disease. Front Aging Neurosci. 2014;6:36. doi:3389/fnagi.2014.00036.
  3. Bisht B, Darling WG, Grossmann RE, et al. A multimodal intervention for patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: feasibility and effect on fatigue. J Altern Complement Med. 2014;20(5):347-55. doi:1089/acm.2013.0188.
  4. Riccio P, Rossano R, Larocca M, et al. Anti-inflammatory nutritional intervention in patients with relapsing-remitting and primary-progressive multiple sclerosis: a pilot study. Exp Biol Med. 2016;241(6):620-35. doi:1177/1535370215618462.
  5. Kita T, Asanuma M, Miyazaki I, Takeshima M. Protective effects of phytochemical antioxidants against neurotoxin-induced degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. J Pharmacol Sci. 2014;124(3):313-19. doi:1254/jphs.13R19CP.
  6. Hadgkiss EJ, Jelinek GA, Weiland TJ, Pereira NG, Marck CH, van der Meer DM. The association of diet with quality of life, disability, and relapse rate in an international sample of people with multiple sclerosis. Nutr Neurosci. 2015;18(3):125-36. doi:1179/1476830514Y.0000000117.
  7. Agim ZS, Cannon JR. Dietary factors in the etiology of Parkinson’s disease. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:672838. doi:1155/2015/672838.
  8. Ayuso MI, Gonzalo-Gobernado R, Montaner J. Neuroprotective diets for stroke. Neurochem Int. 2017 Feb;pii:S0197-0186(16)30408-9. doi:1016/j.neuint.2017.01.013.
  9. Nataraj J, Manivasagam T, Thenmozhi AJ, Essa MM. Lutein protects dopaminergic neurons against MPTP-induced apoptotic death and motor dysfunction by ameliorating mitochondrial disruption and oxidative stress. Nutr Neurosci. 2015;19(6):237-46. doi:1179/1476830515Y.0000000010.
  10. Sandhir R, Sethi N, Aggarwal A, Khera A. Coenzyme Q10 treatment ameliorates cognitive deficits by modulating mitochondrial functions in surgically induced menopause. Neurochem Int. 2014 Jul;74:16-23. doi:1016/j.neuint.2014.04.011.
  11. Fišar Z, Hroudová J, Singh N, Kop?ivová A, Mace?ková D. Effect of simvastatin, coenzyme Q10, resveratrol, acetylcysteine and acetylcarnitine on mitochondrial respiration. Folia Biol (Praha). 2016;62(2):53-66.

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