6 Vitamins Good for the Brain that You Should be Taking
The brain is one of your most important organs, so it's crucial to care for it. Check out these 6 vitamins good for the brain to add to your routine.
Your brain is like a jet engine.
It's complicated. It uses a lot of fuel to perform at its best. And without it, you'd be grounded.
We all know that. But did you know that about 75% of your brain is made of water? That means that a little dehydration goes a long way toward hampering brain function. Though water is important, it isn't the only thing that your brain needs for peak performance.
Vitamins and nutrients are essential to keep your brain functioning at 100%. And some vitamins are superstars when it comes to improving brain function.
In this article, we'll talk about 6 vitamins good for the brain and why you should take them.
B is for Brainpower: B Vitamins
B Vitamins are a group of 8 vitamins present in all areas of the body, including our brain and our blood. They are water soluble, so they need daily replenishing. Sadly, most of us aren't getting enough of them on a daily basis.
Here's a list of the B vitamins along with the importance of some of them:
B1 - Thiamine
B2 - Riboflavin
B3 - Niacin
B5 - Pantothenic Acid
B6 - Pyridoxine
B7 - Biotin
B9 - Folate (or Folic Acid)
B12 - Cobalamin
Thiamine is a key player in how well your nervous system communicates. When you are thiamine deficient, nerve impulses slow down. And that slows you down. Without enough B1, you may also experience nervousness, irritability, and weak sore muscles.
B6, or pyridoxine, is a very important B vitamin for brain health. Without enough, it can cause depression, impaired memory, or memory loss.
If you've ever been pregnant, you understand that folic acid is super important to your baby's development. That's because it's a common element in the formation of brain and nerve tissue. And as we age, we need folic acid to help repair these same tissues.
B12 is an essential element of blood cell and marrow production. It’s also part of the building blocks of nerve sheaths, which protect the nerve from damage. If you are depressed, mentally fatigued, moody, or if you are experiencing memory loss, you may not be getting enough.
C is for Citrus: Vitamin C
Your body has no way to store vitamin C, so you must get adequate amounts of it in your diet every day. And you'd better do it! Because Vitamin C has a ton of benefits for your body.
It's a powerful antioxidant which helps boost your immune system. But that’s not all it does - this protection also helps reduce inflammation around your brain.
Inflammation is associated with the onset of dementia. So as you age, increase your vitamin C intake, as it can help fight off degenerative brain diseases.
Eating a variety of whole foods containing vitamin C can also help keep your memory intact for many years.
E is for Essential: Vitamin E
Oxidative damage is something that happens when fats break down because of oxidation. Think of when a jar of peanuts gets old and starts to stink. Or when a cut avocado burns brown after it’s been exposed to air. That's oxidation at work.
Complex fats make up the neurons in your body. And the same oxidation problems that turn nuts rancid or brown an avocado happen in your body. Because of its powerful antioxidant characteristics, vitamin E keeps the fats in your body from oxidizing or ‘rusting.’
As bad as that may sound, it gets worse. Damage from oxidation is a known cause of diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia. And patients who suffer from these illnesses often have low levels of vitamin E in their spinal fluid. So it's important to have healthy levels of this vitamin in your body at all times.
Another perk of vitamin E? It helps with fertility. Insufficient levels of vitamin E are often the cause of problems with reproductive function.
Sunshine in a Bottle: Vitamin D
Vitamin D is the "sunshine" vitamin because it's made in our skin when we are exposed to sunlight. The positive effects that vitamin D has on our bones and calcium retention are well-known. But the "sunshine" vitamin does more than just keep our bones strong.
It's found throughout our central nervous system in nerve and brain cells. And it's an important part of neurotransmitters. Plus, it helps with nerve growth.
Another important role of vitamin D is controlling mood. If you're feeling blue, a dose of vitamin D can perk you up. That's because it acts almost like a hormone in our bodies.
When you have enough vitamin D in your body, you perform mental tasks better. This may have to do with the improved performance of neuroreceptors, or it might have to do with a better mood and attitude.
Either way, vitamin D is an essential element of healthy brain nutrients.
Take Your Acids Fatty: Omega 3
There are two types of omega 3 fatty acids - EPA and DHA. They're both found in fish oil, which is what you might think of when we mention this nutrient.
Omega 3 is great for your skin and muscles. It makes your hair shiny and keeps joint pain at bay. But it's also a primary factor in healthy brain development throughout your life.
Getting enough of this vital nutrient as a child helps with learning and memory later on in life. Omega 3 is part of the cell membrane of every brain cell and helps keep brain cells strong so they can better communicate with each other.
Low levels of omega 3 lead to decreased brain size in older adults. This causes memory loss and reduced cognitive function. It also leads to degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer's.
Get Your ZZZ's: Zinc
Zinc is a trace element. It's found in certain cells in the forward part of the brain. People who suffer from Parkinson's disease often have zinc deficiencies.
Like vitamin C, zinc has anti-inflammatory properties that protect the brain and nerve cells. Remember, inflammation plays a role in the development of brain diseases, so fighting inflammation is the best practice when it comes to a healthy brain.
Zinc also plays a big role in regulating the hypothalamus. This small gland in the centre of the brain controls hormone production. Because of this, it affects our mood and how our bodies function.
The hypothalamus is linked to emotional wellbeing, too. It controls feelings of hunger and thirst. It also controls our sleep cycles and sex drives.
Are Vitamins Good for the Brain?
These are our top picks for vitamins good for the brain. Choosing a supplement regimen that includes these vitamins will help your memory and brain function, and it'll keep your brain sharp as you age.
It's important to remember your ABC's when it comes to brain vitamins. B vitamins play a big role in brain formation. Vitamin C fights inflammation and protects the brain with antioxidants.
Vitamin E protects the fatty part of the brain cells from oxidative damage. Vitamin D and Zinc both help control your mood and emotions. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for strong cell membranes.
A balanced and diverse diet of whole foods keeps your brain firing on all cylinders. Check out our brain healthy meal plan to move your brain game to the next level!
And as always, I welcome your thoughts and value your feedback. Let me know what you think by dropping me a line or commenting below.
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