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What Vitamins And Minerals Are Good For The Brain

Vitamin K And Brain Function

Vitamins for Brain Health | ADHD Brain

Another fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin K is found in food as phylloquinone and several menaquinones . In the nervous system, vitamin K helps activate certain proteins involved in nerve cell survival and supports the synthesis of sphingolipids, a component of the myelin sheath that insulates nerves.

Vitamin K insufficiency has been associated with low behavioral and cognitive performance. Higher levels of phylloquinone have been associated with greater verbal episodic memory, one aspect of memory performance. Additionally, experimental studies show that menaquinone-4 may protect against inflammation and oxidative stress, processes that are implicated in neurodegeneration.

Regular exercise may help protect against conditions such as Parkinsons disease and dementia.

Take A Pill Protect Your Memory

“Improves memory.” “Sharpens focus.” These are just some of the claims you may see on the supplements that 25% of adults over age 50 are taking to try to keep their brains healthy. Do these products work? It’s often unclear, as the FDA doesnât require makers to prove the supplements are effective, as long they don’t make any claims about specific diseases. Here’s what experts do — and don’t — know about some of these popular items.

How To Use Vitamins For Brain Injury

There is an abundance of evidence that nutrition plays a huge rolein TBI recovery, and that a good brain injury diet promotes healthy brain function.

But sometimes it is not possible to get enough of the food that fuels your brain, especially after a brain injury, which often causes a decrease in appetite.

Thats where vitamins come in. They can help your brain get the tools it needs to heal and function at its best when you feel like you cant eat the right amount on your own.

However, they wont accomplish this goal if the rest of the food you eat isnt healthy.

If you are regularly consuming junk food, no amount of vitamins or supplements can reverse the damage that will do to your body.

Therefore, you should use vitamins as a supplement to a healthy diet, not a replacement for one.

Want 20 pages of brain injury recovery tips in PDF form?

Also Check: What Vitamins Should Women Take Everyday

What Vitamins Are Good For The Brain

Your central nervous system , made up of the brain and spinal cord, relies on essential nutrients to support normal cognitive function and brain health. Consuming these nutrients in your diet or as dietary supplements may help maintain cognitive function and prevent conditions such as dementia. The following is an overview of what vitamins are good for brain health below.

The Best Supplements For Your Brain

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Medical experts maintain that several dietary supplements and vitamins are considered an important part of a brain-healthy diet. One such expert, Dr. Richard Isaacson, Harvard-trained neurologist and author of the book, Alzheimers Treatment, Alzheimers Prevention, recommends several supplements for your brain, including:

  • B Complex Vitamins
  • Vitamin D

Read Also: What Vitamins To Take During Pregnancy

What The Leaves Say About Ginkgo Biloba

The fan-shaped leaves of the ginkgo tree are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat all kinds of ailments. In the United States, the extract from the leaves is sold as a supplement commonly called ginkgo biloba. One of its main selling points is as a memory enhancer. However, as with other brain health supplements, the science doesn’t support the claims.

One of the largest clinical trials that explored the possible link was the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory study. Researchers recruited more than 3,000 older adults, average age 79, 54% of whom were men, with normal cognitive function or mild cognitive impairment. Everyone was given either 120 milligrams of ginkgo or a placebo twice a day for almost six years. The results found that ginkgo biloba did not lower the overall rate of developing dementia.

“Most supplements are not tested rigorously in clinical trials,” says Dr. Gad Marshall, associate medical director at the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “However, ginkgo has been tested thoroughly for its potential to prevent dementia, and there is strong evidence that it does not prevent memory decline or dementia and therefore should not be taken for that purpose.”

Which Vitamins And Minerals Support Optimal Brain Health

Which Vitamins and Minerals Support Optimal Brain Health?

For weighing only about three pounds, the human brain is a remarkable organ.

Considered the most complex structure in the human body, the brain governs every function of your body, from your thoughts, memories, movement, and speech to your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.

In fact, when you consider just how much the brain does each day to keep your body healthy and in balance, you start to realize how important it is to take good care of itand one of the best ways to show your brain a little TLC is by giving it the nutrients it needs to function at its peak.

Because most Americans arent getting the essential vitamins and minerals they need from the food they eat, many people look to multivitamin supplements to help fill in the gaps.

Below is a list of important vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy brain.

  • B vitamins

B12, B6, and B9 , along with other important B vitamins, support healthy brain function. B vitamins are also necessary for the synthesis of neurotransmitterschemical messengers that deliver signals from the brain to other parts of the body.

  • Vitamins C, D, and E

Vitamins C and E provide antioxidant support. Vitamin C plays a role in the synthesis of some neurotransmitters. Vitamin E plays a role in cell signaling. Likewise, vitamin D has been shown to play a role in brain development and function.

  • Vitamin K
  • Choline
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

Read Also: What Vitamins Should A 26 Female Take

Best Ways To Help Your Memory

For young and older people alike, its valuable to get your dietary vitamins from the food you eat. Supplements can fill in the gaps, but check with your doctor before you go over the recommended daily intake.

No matter your age, the best way to combat memory decline is to eat well and exercise your body and your brain. The Mediterranean diet is a good source of all the vitamins your body needs.

The Mediterranean diet has been as a way to improve memory. The hallmarks of the diet include:

  • mostly plant-based foods
  • limiting red meat
  • eating fish
  • using liberal amounts of olive oil to prepare meals

Diets that are similar to the Mediterranean diet include the MIND diet as well as the DASH diet. Both diets have been found to reduce the occurrence of Alzheimers disease.

The MIND diet, in particular, emphasizes the consumption of green, leafy vegetables and plant-based food in addition to the high protein and olive oil recommendations of the Mediterranean diet.

Having a strong support network and being engaged in your local community have been suggested as ways to delay or prevent dementia. Establishing healthy sleep habits can also protect your brain.

Vitamin E And Brain Function

13 Minerals Essential for the Optimized Brain

Also included in the best cognitive vitamins, vitamin E is a group composed of eight natural compounds, including tocopherols and tocotrienols. As a fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E protects against the production of reactive oxygen species and may help prevent chronic conditions associated with these damaging free radicals. One study examined the levels of vitamin E compounds in adults with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimers disease , a form of dementia. The researchers found that low levels of tocopherols and tocotrienols were associated with an increased risk of MCI and AD.

Read Also: How To Find Out What Vitamins You Need

Vitamin D For Brain Health For A Lifetime

Vitamin D has profound effects on the brain during all stages of life.

Moms-to-be need to get enough vitamin D while pregnant for their babys brain to develop properly.

Children must continue to get enough vitamin D for normal brain development.

Vitamin D can lift your mood, improve memory, and boost problem-solving ability.

And, later in life, vitamin D can ward off cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimers.

The Synthesis Of Neurotransmitters Is Dependent On Vitamins B1 B5 B6 B9 And C

Thiamine is required for the synthesis of fatty acids, steroids, nucleic acids and aromatic amino acids, which are precursors to a range of neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid .

Pantothenic acid is required for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, as shown by experimental studies in rats in which pantothenic acid was depleted using chronic alcohol exposure that displayed a decreased synthesis of acetylcholine in the brain .

In the brain, the aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase, an enzyme dependent on PLP , catalyzes the synthesis of two major neurotransmitters: serotonin from tryptophan and dopamine from phenylalanine. The synthesis of other neurotransmitters, including glutamate or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is also catalyzed by enzymes that require vitamin B6 as cofactors .

Vitamin B9 enables cerebral methylation processes and this affects the metabolism of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are important in mood regulation. More precisely, folate has been linked to the maintenance of adequate cerebral levels of tetrahydropterin, a key cofactor in the hydroxylation reactions that lead to the synthesis of serotonin and catecholamines. .

Vitamin C is involved in the synthesis and modulation of some hormonal components of the nervous system. It is a cofactor of the enzymes that catalyze the formation of catecholamines: , and of enzymes that are active in the biosynthesis of neuropeptides

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Vitamin C And Brain Function

Vitamin C is an essential water-soluble vitamin that must be obtained from dietary sources as it cannot be produced by the body. Research has demonstrated various roles of vitamin C in the brain, which include supporting neurodevelopment, neurotransmitter function, angiogenesis , and antioxidant function. Additionally, vitamin C supports regeneration of other antioxidants, such as glutathione and vitamin E.

One review study that examined the relationship between vitamin C levels and cognitive performance in both healthy and cognitively impaired individuals found that the cognitively intact individuals had higher blood concentrations of vitamin C.

Vitamin C Iron And Magnesium Are Also Involved In Energy

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Vitamin C is needed for two dioxygenase enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of carnitine, an essential cofactor in the transport of long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria. It thus plays an important role in the production of energy via beta-oxidation so impaired carnitine metabolism, including through insufficient vitamin C supply, can be responsible for weakness or muscle aching .

Iron is included within the porphyrin ring structure of heme enzymes, such as for the family of cytochromes required for cellular energy production. Cytochromes serve as electron carriers during the synthesis of ATP in the electron transport chain: the reduction of ferrous iron to ferric iron is coupled with the acceptance of electrons. Among the 40 different proteins that constitute the respiratory chain, there are six different heme iron proteins and six others with iron-sulphur, located in complexes I, II and III . Among those, succinate dehydrogenase is as a key enzyme in the citric acid cycle .

Read Also: What Is The Best Vitamins For Seniors

Folic Acid Vitamin B6 And B12

High levels of an amino acid called homocysteine are thought to make the brain more vulnerable to beta-amyloid . Homocysteine comes from the normal metabolism of protein from meat sources. An abnormally high level of homocysteine, along with low folic acid levels, has been associated with heart disease and possibly lends itself to a higher risk for dementia.

An Oxford University study suggested that lowering homocysteine levels by supplementing with B vitamins may help fight against Alzheimers. Study participants age 70 and older, with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, were either given high-doses of folic acid, B6 and B12 or given placebo pills. After two years, the researchers discovered the rate of brain shrinkage in people receiving the B vitamins was 30% lower than in those taking the placebo and the effect was greatest in those who had the highest levels of homocysteine, according to the book Alzheimers Treatment, Alzheimers Prevention.

Based on the studies, 800 mcg of folic acid, 20 mg of B6 and 500 mcg of B12 per day are the best supplements for your brain health, but again, be sure to consult with a health care provider before taking any type of supplement.

Other Ways To Look After Your Brain

The brain is such a vital organ that it is important to do what you can to keep it healthy. Here are some other everyday things that you can do to keep your brain in good condition:


Make sure you get enough, but not too much. Lack of sleep can affect your concentration, memory and emotional well-being, while too much sleep can, surprisingly, make you feel tired.


This is a big help in keeping the brain healthy, because it increases blood flow to the brain. Exercise can help you to be more alert and improve your mood.

Stimulate the brain

Learning new skills can help keep your brain stimulated, as can mentally challenging hobbies like music or knitting, or puzzles like crosswords and Sudoku.

Pace yourself

If you have been ill, the temptation to get back to normal and do everything you used to do can be immense. Nevertheless, do not push yourself too hard your condition may be invisible but your brain is working hard to heal itself, and trying to do everything could make you feel exhausted.

This information was last checked in April 2017. Due for review in April 2020.

Should you wish to view the references for this publication, please contact

Read Also: Do Prenatal Vitamins Help With Postpartum Depression

Essential Nutrients To Promote Brain Function

Did you know that your brain is only about 3% of your body weight, but it uses up to 17% of your energy? In order for the brain to function properly, it needs specific nutrients, making the food we eat vital to brain function. What types of nutrients do we need to help our brains function? Read this list to learn more about what the brain needs!

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – To promote and enhance your intellectual performance, omega-3s are needed in your diet! Consuming omega-3s helps with general thinking and thought processing, but also assists with remembering and learning. If you struggle with ADHD, studies have shown that Omega-3s help reduce symptoms. Additionally, other research suggests they may help prevent Alzheimers disease and dementia, as they have a positive effect on memory. It is worth noting that the American diet is generally very high in Omega 6s and low in Omega-3s. Omega-3s are most often found in fish, but can also be found in walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
  • Lycopene – Another significant antioxidant that is known to protect against dementia, especially Alzheimers disease, is lycopene. Studies have indicated that lycopene also can be used in the treatment of prostate cancer and can prevent breast cancer. Other benefits include keeping blood vessels around the heart and neck healthy. Lycopene is a red carotene and carotenoid pigment, which is seen in red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelon, bell peppers, and red carrots.
  • Supplements For Brain Injury

    Our favourite good mood foods: essential vitamins for brain health | SuperFastDiet

    Before wrapping this article up, we just want to reiterate what we said at the beginning:

    Make sure to use vitamins only as a supplement for your diet, not a replacement. You should still focus on eating the natural sources of these vitamins as much as possible. Finally, consult your physician before taking these vitamins to ensure that they do not interact with any of your medications.

    Read Also: Where To Buy Vitamin B6 25mg

    Vitamins B1 B9 B12 D And E

    The B vitamins are a class of water soluble vitamins. In a supplement format, they are usually grouped together in a b-complex vitamin. The B vitamins are important for cell metabolism.

    B1 thiamine is a coenzyme in the breaking down of sugars and amino acids. It plays a central role in the release of energy from carbohydrates. The best sources of thiamin include yeast extract, pork, fortified breakfast cereals, enriched grain products and meatless soy products.

    B9 folic acid is important for the making and repairing of DNA especially important in cell growth. Dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach and dried legumes such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are naturally good sources of folate. In Canada, folic acid is added to all white flour, enriched pasta and cornmeal products.

    B12 is involved in the metabolism of every cell in the human body and in the formation of DNA. It is essential to produce nerve sheaths. B12 supplementation is linked to improved cognition and may be an area to explore with your doctor.

    The best sources of Vitamin B12 include: eggs, milk, cheese, milk products, meat, fish, shellfish, and poultry.

    Forget About Those Over

    A recent survey found that about 25% of adults over age 50 take a supplement to improve their brain health with the promise of enhanced memory and sharper attention and focus.

    The problem? There’s no solid proof any of them work.

    “The main issue with all over-the-counter supplements is lack of regulation,” says Dr. Gad Marshall, associate medical director at the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “The FDA doesn’t oversee product testing or ingredient accuracy they just look out for supplements that make health claims related to the treatment of specific diseases.”

    In terms of brain health, this means a supplement manufacturer can claim a product helps with mental alertness or memory loss but not that it protects against or improves dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. “This way manufacturers don’t have to back up any claim that their product is effective or even safe,” says Dr. Marshall.

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