By: Adonia Dennis
Your brain requires a variety of nutrients in order to function properly. For example, there’s a growing body of evidence that certain vitamins improve memory, concentration, focus, and overall brain health. In fact, some cognitive impairments and diseases can be tracked down to deficiencies of brain health essential vitamins. Now you’re probably wondering what vitamins are crucial for brain health. Keep reading to find out.
1. Vitamin C
Your body needs Vitamin C to stay healthy, and so does your brain. This vitamin is essential for the production of neurotransmitters which impact your ability to focus, concentrate, and remember. These neurotransmitters also control mood, cravings, addictions, sleep, etc.
Fiona E. Harrison and James M. May of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, published a review of studies about benefits of Vitamin C for brain health in the Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
These are the key points:
- It protects the brain from oxidative stress
- Slow down progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Hungtington’s disease
- Plays a role in collagen synthesis in the brain.
Vitamin C-dependant collagen synthesis is linked to the formation of the myelin sheath which surrounds various neuronal processes. The collagen is also essential for flexible arteries that are crucial for healthy blood flow
Besides the protective role, other benefits of Vitamin C for your brain health include:
- Improved mood
- Improves memory, IQ, and other mental functions
- Acts as a potent detoxifier that removes heavy metals from your brain
Best food sources of this vitamin are:
- Citrus fruits
- Kiwi, mango, papaya
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Bell peppers
- Green leafy vegetables
- Sweet and white potatoes
- Tomatoes and winter squash.
2. Vitamin D
The sunshine vitamin has profound effects on your brain during all stages of life. According to the study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation, Vitamin D receptors are widespread in brain tissue and its biologically active form has demonstrated neuroprotective effects including the clearance of amyloid plaques; a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin D has a tremendous potential to lift your mood, improve memory, and increase your problem-solving skills all of which are also improved with regular brain exercise. Foods that are considered to be the highest in Vitamin D include:
- Oily fish
- Cod liver oil
- Portabello mushrooms
- Whole grain, fortified cereals
However, getting Vitamin D from the diet can be complicated as there are insufficient amounts; which is why consulting your doctor about supplements could be a good idea.
3. Vitamin B
B vitamins are included in helping the formation of various brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine. In fact, each Vitamin B plays its own unique role in preserving brain function and mental acuity. Here are three important B vitamins that prevent mental decline:
B6 – converts 5HTP into the mood chemical serotonin
B12 – helps in the formation of myelin and deficiency of this vitamin could lead to memory loss, nerve damage, mental slowness, bad mood, etc.
B9 (folic acid) – makes you feel more alert, improves memory and focus. It also lowers levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which damages brain cells
Best food sources of Vitamin B6 are poultry, fish, bananas, potatoes, carrot, spinach, peas. You’ll find Vitamin B12 in all animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy while folic acid can be found in green leafy vegetables, legumes, fruit, eggs, and organ meats.
4. Vitamin E
A study published in the Journal of Lipid Research found that Vitamin E deficiency causes damage to the brain by impairing the supply of nutrients that are crucial for the health of neurons. However, scientists point out that 96% of adult women and 90% of adult men in the US don’t receive enough Vitamin E through their diet. Just like Vitamin C, this vitamin functions as a powerful antioxidant thus protecting your brain from oxidative damage.
- Food sources of Vitamin E include:
- Assorted fortified cereals
- Peanuts, hazelnuts
- Turnip greens
- Sunflower seeds and oil
- Almonds etc.
Due to the fact that deficiency of Vitamin E is very common, brain booster supplements are widely used in order to improve cognitive functions. Products like Geniux enhance cognitive in a natural manner.
5. Vitamin K
The study published in the BioFactors revealed that Vitamin K contributes to the biological activation of proteins Gas6 and protein S. Gas6 is involved in different cellular processes that include cellular growth, survival, and apoptosis. Vitamin K also participates in the synthesis of sphingolipids which are present in high amount in cell membranes of your brain. Alterations in sphingolipids are linked with age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. There’s a growing body of evidence that Vitamin K prevents oxidative damage and inflammation in the brain.
- Best food sources of Vitamin K are:
- Dried basil
- Green leafy vegetables
- Salad vegetables
- Brassica vegetables
- Chili powder and hot spices
- Olive oil
- Dried fruits etc.
Your brain needs a variety of nutrients to stay healthy and vital. That’s why it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet rich in different minerals and other nutrients as well as vitamins listed in this article.
Adonia Dennis (@adoniadennis), by profession a Health, Beauty and Skin Care adviser. She provides solution related to health and beauty problems. She is a passionate blogger who loves to write and share her views on various topics. She recently got an opportunity to work as a content coordinator for Glozine latest lifestyle news. To know more about Adonia, follow her on LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.