Lion's Mane

Lion's mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) is a popular ingredient in supplements that may help improve brain function.

Aging is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t mitigate the negative effects. When the World Health Organization added aging-related diseases as a distinct category in its International Classification of Diseases, it illustrated a growing belief that some unwanted physical and mental aspects of aging are, in fact, treatable. This opened new doors for research into treatments for everything from cognitive decline to chronic pain.

At Berkshire Food Co-op, this has brought on a wave of new products designed to support brain function. Elizabeth Wing, Wellness Buyer for the Co-op, is responsible for their selection of supplements and personal care items.

“With brain health and healthy aging on a lot of people’s minds, that’s something that is becoming more popular,” she said. “And so a lot of the supplement companies are starting to formulate more specific formulas for brain health.”

One group of products gaining popularity are nootropics, a broad category of drugs and supplements that increase blood flow to the brain, potentially boosting cognitive abilities and slowing the effects of aging. “Lion’s mane is a huge item right now,” Wing said, referring to a hairy-looking white mushroom that has been shown to slow the progression of inflammation-causing amyloid-beta plaques.

Magnesium threonate (also seen as magnesium L-threonate) is a synthetic form of magnesium that is known to pass through the blood-brain barrier in animals and is currently being studied as a treatment for dementia.

More options are on the way. “NAD Plus and NMN are two big supplements that a lot of people are asking questions about, and there’s some new research coming out about anti-aging,” Wing said. “So that’s a really interesting field that I think we can definitely expand on.”