What is the purpose of myelinated neurons?

Myelin - the membrane that protects your nerves

If you've heard of myelin, it was probably in school in biology class. It is definitely worthwhile to take a closer look at myelin, because the membrane fulfills an important purpose in protecting your nerve cells.

You will find out everything you need to know about myelin and its role for your brain and cells in this article.

1. Definition: what is myelin?

Myelin is a protective layer, made up of proteins and fats that is put around the end of nerve cells. These so-called axons are shielded by a myelin layer and allow the nerve cell to send out fast and many electrical signals.

Basically can this is how the brain communicates with other parts of the body and actively guide movements, but also control the metabolism.

These electrical signals are, so to speak, the Basic unit of information processing in your brain and with it essential for functionality your brain.

Myelin consists of 70% fats and 30% proteins and is therefore also known as “white matter”. The myelinated regions in the brain can therefore be seen relatively clearly due to their white color.

During childhood and adolescence, myelin continues to grow and grow supports the developing brain and nervous system in its functioning. This is also the reason why babies move and act in such uncoordinated ways.

The not yet fully formed myelin septum ensures inadequate communication between the nerve cells. What looks cute to us is just a myelin evolution that has not yet been completed.

2. What is the function of the myelin layer for the brain?

The main job of myelin is to to improve the transmission of stimuli in the brain, in the form of the action potential. In a sense, this transports the information through the axon of one nerve cell to the next cell.

Now is the time to get excited and this is what makes myelin such an important factor when it comes to that mental performance goes: As a study from the University of North Carolina found Namely, myelin increases the speed of the electrical impulses of the individual nerve cells. [1]

How quickly your nerve cells interact with each other and thus all learning, thinking and remembering processes take place in your brain depends on the Myelin health in your central nervous system (CNS).

Strictly speaking, the myelin sheath keeps electrical energy from leaking out of the axon; it kind of holds it Tension is maintained within the individual nerve cells.

Research is also concerned with the connection between Myelin and intelligence. According to a report by the Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York, there is a connection between "white matter" and intelligence. [2]

Since myelin is the Transmission of stimuli in the brain improved, so determine it about that Speed ​​of all running processes. That these processes run correctly is decisive for the entire mental performance, also for Learning and memory processes!

More learning and focus hacks

Take home message: Myelin is the important protective layer that surrounds your nerve cells. Whether your brain is adequately supplied with myelin determines how quickly the numerous information processing processes can take place in your brain!

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3. The consequences of myelin deficiency

The impact that a Deficiency of the protective myelin layer can have are numerous. Logical when you consider that your entire brain and nervous system depend on this substance.

If there is a defect, it occurs Signal interference between your brain and other parts of your body, according to a study by the University of Georgia Institute of Molecular Medicine & Genetics. [3]

These include, among other things Eyesight, a tingling sensation or numbness all over the body and mental dropouts. All of this is due to a weakness in the myelin sheaths.

It often takes a long time to identify a deficiency because the symptoms can be so diverse. This is mainly triggered by weaknesses in the immune system, infections and inflammation. If the body is already weakened, the myelin sheaths can also be attacked.

Take home message: Myelin deficiency has been linked to poor eyesight, physiological and mental dropouts.

4. Build up the natural myelin layer again!

First of all, it should be said: There is no magic formula for rebuilding the myelin layer. However, some methods and tips claim that they do conducive to the build-up of the myelin layer could be.

To understand this, one must first know how these are formed. There are two types of cells that can produce myelin. First the Oligodendrocytes (CNS) and secondly the Schwann cells (PNS).

While the Schwann cells are distributed throughout the body, the oligodendrocytes are more likely to be found in the brain, where they are responsible for the formation of new myelin.

1. Sleep

Probably one of the most important factors is restful sleep. As a study by the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found, be more cells are formed in the body during REM sleep, which are required as a starting material for the oligodendrocytes. [4]

So the better you recover and the more sleep you give your body, the more myelin can be formed. The opposite is the case with stress and fatigue. If you do not allow your body and brain enough relaxation, cells die faster.

So it is of enormous importance for your mental performance that you yourself well rested at night and so the important myelin can be formed.

Tips for falling asleep in the sleep guide

Also interesting in the context of myelin and sleep: The myelin layer in our brain is closely related to habits and rituals, which we execute automatically every day.

As Shawn Stevenson writes in his book "Sleep Smarter" [5], for example, our bedroom should be furnished in such a way that it is used solely for the purpose of sleeping.

Just as we go into the bathroom to brush our teeth or wash, so should we enter the bedroom only to sleep.

The act of repeating and establishing a routine in the evening helps ensure that Myelin promoted becomes - like some kind of muscle.

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2. Ketosis

A ketogenic dietor ketones can Structure of the myelin layer support. How was found out showed a ketogenic diet success in a patient suffering from hypomyelination. [6]

In this disease, the myelination is disturbed from birth due to an AGC1 (aspartate-glutamate carrier) deficiency. The ketogenic diet was able to improve myelination in this case by compensating for a deficiency in a certain enzyme (AGC1, which helps to form N-acetylaspartate in the oligodendrocytes).

On the other hand, ketones also serve as an energy source and precursor in lipid synthesis in the so important oligodendrocytes in the brain and can thus support myelination. [7]

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3. The omega-3 fatty acid DHA

The total fat content of your brain persists too approx. 20%from the essential omega-3 fatty acid DHA. The development of the cerebral cortex of an infant already occurs during pregnancy relies on the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, the storage of which takes place during the first two years after the birth.

This phase of DHA deposition coincides with the onset of myelination, which indicates that the two processes are closely related. It is assumed, that DHA is needed to drive myelination.

Everything about omega-3 fatty acids

A reduction in DHA in food can ultimately lead to learning and memory problems in adults too. This is due to an excessively high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, as is often the case in today's society.

One study found that this can have at least partially negative effects on myelin growth. [8th]

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4. Vitamin D and Vitamin K2

Vitamin D as Vitamin K2 are also related to myelin. Studies have shown that the Vitamin D receptor the production of oligodendrocytes can increase [9] and vitamin K is involved in the increase of so-called "sulfatides", a component of the myelin membrane layer. [10]

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5. Choline, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B5

As you could find out are above all Vitamin B12, Citicoline and Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) important for the formation of myelin. These are some of the starting materials your brain needs to synthesize myelin.

Vitamin B5 is essential because it helps in the synthesis of fats ingested through food - and myelin is made up of up70% from fats.

But vitamin B5 is not only responsible for this, it also helps with it at the same time Synthesis of acetylcholine, the important neurotransmitter in your brain.

Also assists in this task the active ingredient citicoline, in addition to the formation of acetylcholine, especially for that Repair of damaged myelin sheaths responsible for.

Since these two substances are micronutrients and vitamins, which are only ever found in relatively low doses in food, a supplement can be useful as a targeted application.

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5. Conclusion

Myelin is an essential substance for you because it protects your nerve cells and plays a key role in transmitting stimuli via your central nervous system.

You can make sure that you get enough nutrients for myelin production yourself. Your ability to concentrate in particular benefits from this.

6. Studies

[1] Morell P, Quarle R.H. (1999) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects. 6th edition.The Myelin Sheath. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27954/]

[2] Podbielska M, Levery S.B, Hogan E.L (2011) Georgia Health Sciences University. Journal of Clinical Lipidology.The structural and functional role of myelin fast-migrating cerebrosides: pathological importance in multiple sclerosis. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3373471/]

[3] Haier RJ, Jung RE, Yeo RA, Head K, Alkire MT (2004) University of California. Neuroimage.Structural brain variation and general intelligence. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15325390]

[4] Bellesi M, Pfister-Genskow M, Maret S, Keles S, Tononi G, Cirelli C (2013) University of Wisconsin-Madison. Journal of Neuroscience.Effects of Sleep and Wake on Oligodendrocytes and Their Precursors.[https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874087/]

[5] Stevenson, Shawn: Sleep Smarter. 21 Essentials Strategies to sleep your way to a better body, better health, and bigger success. Page: 64

[6] Dahlin M, Martin DA, Hedlund Z, Jonsson M, von Döbeln U, Wedell A (2015) Karolinska Institute. Epilepsia.The ketogenic diet compensates for AGC1 deficiency and improves myelination.[https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26401995]

[7] Poduslo SE, Miller K (1991) The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Neurochemistry International.Ketone bodies as precursors for lipid synthesis in neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendroglia (myelin) in hyperthyroidism, hyperketonemia and hypoketonemia.[https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20504680]

[8] Novak E.M., Dyer R.A., Innis S.M. (2008) University of British Columbia. Brain Research. High dietary omega-6 fatty acids contribute to reduced docosahexaenoic acid in the developing brain and inhibit secondary neurite growth. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772061/#B160-nutrients-08-00099]

[9] de la Fuente AG, Errea O, van Wijngaarden P, Gonzalez GA (2015) University of Cambridge. The Journal of Cell Biology.Vitamin D receptor-retinoid X receptor heterodimer signaling regulates oligodendrocyte progenitor cell differentiation. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26644513]

[10] Crivello N.A., Casseus S.L, Peterson J.W (2010) Tufts University Boston. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.Age- and brain-region-specific effects of dietary vitamin K on myelin sulfatides. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2891353/]