Vitamin C: For Improved Mood And Neuroprotection
Its safe, inexpensive, and there are few things this powerhouse vitamin cant do.
Its widely taken to prevent and minimize the discomforts of the common cold.
Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine used by millions to reduce allergy symptoms.
Research suggests that it can help prevent both heart disease and cancer.
And, of course, its the acclaimed cure for scurvy, a former scourge among sailors and pirates.
But its benefits as an important vitamin for the brain are less well known.
Here are some of the many reasons vitamin C rates among the best vitamins for the brain:
B Vitamins For Neurotransmitter Formation
An important role of B vitamins for brain health is the production of the brain chemicals including serotonin, dopamine, GABA, norepinephrine, and melatonin.
Imbalances of these major brain chemicals can significantly impact your mental health.
A serotonin deficiency can contribute to anxiety, insomnia, low self-esteem, negative thoughts, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.
Without adequate GABA , you can be easily stressed, overstimulated, and overwhelmed.
Dopamine helps you focus and concentrate.
Signs of a low dopamine level are low energy and motivation.
You may rely on pick-me-ups like caffeine, sugar, chocolate, or other stimulants to get you through the day.
Boosting your B vitamins intake can improve your neurotransmitter balance and your mental well-being.
The 3 B Vitamins That Help Prevent Mental Decline
All the B complex vitamins are essential for overall health.
But three of them B6, B12 and folic acid are especially vital for brain health.
Studies have shown that these vitamins work together to help prevent mental decline, dementia, and Alzheimers disease.
A groundbreaking University of Oxford study found that taking B6, B12, and folic acid together reduced brain atrophy, improved brain function, and dramatically reduced brain shrinkage in the area of the brain most affected in Alzheimers disease.
These vitamins work by reducing levels of homocysteine, a toxic amino acid thats a natural byproduct of digestion.
High levels of this amino acid double your risk for developing Alzheimers.
Below are brain scans from the control group and the group that took B vitamins.
The areas of brain atrophy are in yellow.
You can see that the placebo group shows significantly more brain atrophy than the group that took B vitamins .
It was discovered that high levels of homocysteine doubled the risk for developing Alzheimers back in 2002. Yet, little has been done with this information since.
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Multivitamins: A Shortcut For Memory Preservation
You dont have to take multiple pills for individual vitamins to keep your brain working well.
The Harvard School of Public Health advises all adults to take a multivitamin supplement as insurance to fill any nutritional gaps.
And so do we.
Taking a high-quality multivitamin supplement should meet most of your brains vitamin needs.
Numerous studies confirm that taking a multivitamin alone can improve your memory and overall brain function.
Vitamin E For Brain Protection
Vitamin E is well known as a free-radical fighter that prevents cell damage. While more evidence is needed, several studies have found that vitamin E delays the progression of mild to moderate Alzheimers disease. In a 2014 study published in the American Heart Associations journal, Stroke, researchers found that one type of vitamin E, tocotrienol , may protect the brain from developing white matter lesions, which have been linked to increased stroke risk, Alzheimers, and Parkinsons disease.
The benefits of taking a vitamin E supplement remains a point of contention among researchers, but theres little doubt that the foods containing this antioxidant are good for you.
Foods high in vitamin E:
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, pecans, peanut butter, peanuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds
- Oils: wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, and soybean oil
- Leafy greens: spinach, dandelion greens, swiss chard, and turnip greens
Add The Good Stuff That Supports Brain Health
Research supports the Mediterranean diet as a winner in warding off dementia. You can fine-tune the cognition-enhancing benefits of this eating plan by breaking out specific nutrients to ensure you consume plenty of the foods that deliver the most brain-strengthening bang for the buck.
1. Antioxidants to ACE Brain Health
Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants, which reduce your risk of heart disease and ensure your brain is oxygenated. But why eat Brussels sprouts instead of popping a multivitamin? Simple. Food contains micronutrients, fiber, and other components that contribute to your overall health. Eat these antioxidants to help your brain function effectively:
- Berries, especially blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, and raspberries
- Citrus fruits
- Cruciferous vegetables including Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli
- Omega-3 fatty acids from fish like salmon
- Walnuts and sunflower seeds
What Should Be Avoided In Kids Vitamins
- Added Sugar: Your child does not need added sugar in their vitamins. Steer clear of gummy vitamins, and chewables that have added sugar of any kind.
- Added Preservatives: While preservatives help increase shelf life, they are not necessary in vitamins, and also have been shown to decrease the absorption of nutrients.
- Artificial Ingredients: If you see a long list of ingredients you cannot read or pronounce, then your vitamins have artificial ingredients. These come in the forms of artificial colors, flavors, additives.
For more detailed information on the specific harmful ingredients in childrens vitamins read my post The Healthiest Childrens Vitamins!
Some of the items below were given to me to review by the manufacturer or as part of an affiliate program. I may receive commissions if you make a purchase through the links provided. I only recommend products Ive actually evaluated, I believe are the highest quality, and can do the most to help you and your family. By purchasing any of these products from the links below, you help keep this blog running, so thanks for your support!
Keep in mind that every person & situation is different, especially yours, so make sure to talk to your doctor and see how these guidelines and tips can help you. These tips are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard or delay in seeking professional medical advice because of something you read here!
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Vitamin K And Brain Function
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.
How To Keep The Nervous System Healthy
Proper care for any part of our body is built on diet, mindfulness, and physical activity. Most of my care recommendations can be achieved by smart eating even the healthiest of diets can benefit from additional nutrient support.
So, lets look at the supplements and nutrients that will work the hardest for your nervous system, and that you might not be getting enough of from food alone. As always, consult with your doctor before taking any supplement.
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Should You Take A Brain Supplement
What about all those over-the-counter brain supplements that claim theyre proven to benefit your brain? Take those claims with a grain of salt, Smith says.
Supplements are loosely regulated in the U.S., so theres no guarantee they do what they claim to do. The studies done by manufacturers arent always well-designed, Smith says. And some supplements might contain ingredients at doses that could be harmful. They might even be tainted with contaminants like heavy metals that can be dangerous, she adds.
The Best Brain Vitamins To Improve Memory In 2021
Fact checked by Professor John Nolan, PhD
Brain health is expected to be a big concern in 2021, so what brain vitamins are good for improving memory? And which brain vitamins are the best for your overall cognition? The following article will explore these questions and offer sound advice on *improving your memory through vitamin supplementation. So if you’re struggling with memory issues related to aging or cognition problems, then this guide is perfect for you.
Scientists have studied the effects of vitamins, herbal supplements, and omega-3 fatty acids on memory loss. It has long been believed that these substances can help prevent or slow down memory loss due to aging. But is this true? Although some studies suggest there are benefits for Alzheimers disease, a Cochrane review discovered no evidence in favor of supplementation as an effective method for preventing cognitive decline over time.
Contradictory studies demonstrate that certain supplements might aid brain health over an extended period or protect against cognitive decline . Others show no effects whatsoever when taken independently without other interventions like dietary changes and physical exercise.
And finally, a study conducted by Harvard Medical School found that people who take fish oil regularly scored higher on tests measuring verbal fluency than non-fish eaters do. Research also suggests taking vitamin B12 may improve working memories during sleep deprivation.
Memory Health As A Brain Vitamin
Memory Health® is one of the best brain health supplements on the market, with proven research showing measurable improvements in memory and cognitive function. The Memory Health® formula combines plant-based nutrients essential to maintaining a healthy mind through all stages of life, from childhood development to senior years.
Memory Health® is unlike other brain supplements on the market. It has been clinically tested and shown to help improve memory, mood, and cognition in healthy brains and diseased ones. The patented formula was even published by a scientific journal for Alzheimer’s Disease research.
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.”
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Why You Should Start With A Multivitamin
If you arent sure where to begin with vitamin supplementation, taking a high-quality multivitamin is a good place to start.
The Harvard School of Public Health advises all adults to take a multivitamin supplement as insurance to fill any nutritional gaps and avoid many chronic diseases, including Alzheimers.
Taking a good multi may be all the extra brain vitamins you need.
If you feel like you have a particular need for vitamins C, D, or B complex, you may decide to add these single supplements to your supplement regimen.
Few nutritional supplement companies make vitamins that meet the high standards we look for in a supplement.
That is why we recommend that you do your homework and only buy supplements that contain ingredients in the preferred form and are manufactured by a reputable company.
Foods To Boost Your Brainpower
Whether you want to optimise your nutrition during exam season or stay sharp in your next work meeting, paying attention to your diet can really pay off. Although there’s no single ‘brain food’ to protect against age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, thinking carefully about what you eat gives you the best chance of getting the nutrients you need for cognitive health and mood.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes these 10 everyday brain-boosting foods may help to keep your memory, concentration and focus as sharp as can be.
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The Importance Of Exercise
Don’t forget that as well as a healthy diet, exercise helps to keep our brains sharp. Research suggests that regular exercise improves cognitive function, slows down the mental aging process and helps us process information more effectively.
Use Caution With Supplements
Dont think youre getting enough B vitamins from your diet?
Its fine to take a multivitamin with vitamin B in it, but dont take megadoses of B vitamins unless your doctor tells you to, says Dr. Todorov.
Some people arent able to eliminate B vitamins fast enough and a buildup can cause overstimulation or anxiety.
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Better Ways To Boost Brain Health
Someday researchers might identify a blend of ingredients that does wonders for your gray matter. But in the meantime, there are more effective ways to keep your brain healthy:
- Diet. Nutrition is one of the best ways to protect your brain, Smith says. She recommends a diet rich in produce with healthy oils from olive oil, nuts and seeds and fatty cold-water fish. Aim for a colorful diet, with dark leafy greens, as well as orange and red fruits and veggies, she says. Colorful foods contain antioxidants that may protect the brain.
- Limit alcohol. Too much alcohol can increase the risk of cognitive decline, she says.
- Physical activity. Regular exercise has a strong association with the prevention of cognitive problems, Smith says. Try to get at least 150 minutes of activity a week.
- Sleep. Being sleep-deprived is linked to cognitive decline, so prioritize your slumber.
- Socialize. Social interaction is closely tied with maintaining cognitive function as we get older. Try to spend time with others and limit isolation, Smith advises. Whenever you can, share meals with friends and family.
- Treat health problems. Chronic health problems like Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure can increase the chances of cognitive decline and dementia. To lower your risk, work with your doctor to manage any illnesses.
A Combination Of Nutrients
Many brain supplements focus on omega-3 fatty acids , vitamin E, various B vitamins, or various combinations. Why these?
There’s strong evidence that certain diets like the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and the MIND diet can help improve cognitive function, according to Dr. Marshall.
“These diets contain foods with large amounts of these vitamins and minerals,” he says. “But what is not clear is whether it’s the combination of nutrients in these diets that’s beneficial, or whether it’s specific ones or even certain amounts, or some other factors.” Researchers have tried to answer these questions by testing how these individual nutrients affect cognitive health. So far the limited studies have found no evidence they help, with a few rare exceptions.
“Still, this doesn’t mean that the brain supplements may not work,” says Dr. Marshall. “It’s just that there is not much, if any, evidence from randomized clinical trials the gold standard for research on isolated vitamins or minerals and brain health.”
Here’s a summary of what science has found so far and what it means.
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Brain Essential Nutrients And Breakfast And Beyond
Nutrition is playing a crucial role in brain health, particularly in the areas of depression and dementia. Researchers are identifying key nutritional elements that play an important role in reducing depression and dementia risk and doctors are looking to implement this information into treatment protocols.
Scientists have been working on a list of Brain Essential Nutrients and are developing the BEN Scale to determine where a food sits in terms of brain health.
Essential nutrients for brain health include:
- long-chain omega 3 fatty acids
- vitamins B1, B9, B12, D and E
When you read that list doesnt it sound like breakfast? And breakfast is important!
Breakfast is the foundation meal for your brain, so that it can pay adequate attention, remembers what you experience and learn.
Rewire Your Brain
Breakfast is the first meal after a long period without food. When you consume a good breakfast you increase your problem solving abilities and attention. Energy levels are also increased and mood swings are reduced.
So take time and make sure breakfast is an important part of your day.
Another important factor is re-hydration. Breathing throughout the night is expected , but it is also de-hydrating. And we know that water is very important for brain health. So make sure that you re-hydrate first thing in the morning.
Best Vitamins For Depression
Mental health is a rising topic but also a concerning health crisis as anxiety and depression rates seem to be rising among the population. According to Health Canada, about 11% of men and 16% of women in Canada will experience major depression over the course of their lives .
Depression presents itself as an invisible condition however it is also a disabling condition that can negatively impact all aspects of human function and quality of life.
Clinical depression is a serious matter that should always be taken seriously and receiving the right support is essential for managing the symptoms and overcoming this condition.
Depressive symptoms can show up as hopelessness, pessimism, irritability, fatigue, apathy, difficulty concentrating, lack of passion or zest for life, poor focus, worthlessness, helplessness, insomnia, low sex drive, oversleeping, thoughts of death, low appetite, and loss of interest in hobbies and activities that usually bring one joy .
Though it is natural to feel down or low at times, with depression these feelings tend to be more pronounced and linger on.
The risk of depression can be associated with a lack of community, loneliness, imbalance of brain chemicals, hormonal imbalances, stress, lack of sunlight, daytime napping, excessive use of electronics, television, or cell phones, and unhealthy eating patterns.
Inflammation and stress have both been linked to a higher risk of depression .
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