31 Natural Factors that May Increase Myelin

Myelin is an important part of the nervous system and is vital for optimal cognitive function. This article will walk you through the science behind natural factors that may increase myelin in the body.

What is Myelin?

Overview

The myelin sheath is a protective cover made out of fats and proteins that wraps around the axons (projection) of nerve cells. It insulates neurons so they can send electrical signals faster and more efficiently. This supports brain health and nervous system function [1, 2].

Factors that May Increase Myelination

When to see a doctor

If your goal is to increase myelin to improve your neurological issues–including those of cognitive dysfunction – it’s important to talk to your doctor, especially your symptoms are significantly impacting your daily life.

Your doctor should diagnose and treat the condition causing your symptoms.

Additionally, brain structure is not something that people can change on their own with the approaches listed below. Instead, the factors listed here are meant to support overall brain health, nutrient balance, and well-being.

However, the impact of most of the factors listed below on myelination have not been studied in humans.

Therefore, you may try the additional strategies listed below if you and your doctor determine that they could be appropriate.

Read through the approaches listed here and discuss them with your doctor before trying them out. None of these strategies should ever be done in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes.

Lifestyle Choices

1) Sleep

Animal studies suggest that sleep increases the amount of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) in the body, which can lead to increased myelin formation. Sleep has been associated with higher expression of genes coding for myelination [3].

Researchers found that the production rate of the myelin-making cells (oligodendrocytes), doubled as mice slept [3].

The increase was most marked during the type of sleep that is associated with dreaming (REM sleep) [3].

In contrast, the genes involved in cell death and stress responses were turned on when the mice were forced to stay awake [3].

Getting enough restful sleep is good for overall brain health and well-being. Human studies are needed to examine the effects of sleep on myelination.

2) Exercise

Animal research suggests that exercise may increase myelin after an injury and in mouse models of Alzheimer’s [4, 5].

Exercise also seems to increase mitochondrial function, which increases myelin, in animals fed a high-fat