Do you know that vitamins are important for the proper functioning of our brain? Do you know the foods that contain more of the vitamins? Are we aware that if we take certain vitamins we can improve our memory? Several studies argue that good nutrition can even protect our brain from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
By making slight variations in our diet, we can achieve surprising results. The food and vitamins we eat influence (for better or worse) our body and especially our brain. The functions performed by our brain are impaired over time and by factors such as genetics, food or even the habits we do every day.
Including in our diet foods that contain certain vitamins and minerals, can help us strengthen our cognitive functioning, our memory and learning ability. Vitamins are essential substances for the body. And we get them through a varied, balanced and healthy diet.
Vitamins for Better Brain Function
As for the brain, vitamins help keep active or stimulate some chemical agents that are important for the functions of the brain, help transport oxygen to the brain. There are many vitamins. Next, let’s talk about the main vitamins for the brain.
1. Pro-Vitamin A (beta-carotene)
Beta- carotene is one of the vitamins that should never be lacking in the diet. It is a precursor to vitamin A, which is why it is also called “pro-vitamin A”. Its main contribution is to improve memory and contribute to the preservation of brain cells in the long term.
A deficit in beta-carotene causes serious problems, such as vision difficulties or growth arrest in children. This vitamin is found in foods such as carrots and squash. Also in fruits such as melon, papaya or mango.
2. Vitamin B1
The entire B complex gathers vitamins that are essential for proper brain function. B1, in particular, has magnificent effects against memory impairment. It also prevents aging of the brain and is great for raising the mood of people suffering from depression.
Vitamin B1 is also called “Thiamine” and is present in large amounts in the brain and all nerve tissues. It participates in the process of glucose absorption and therefore it is ideal for maintaining energy in the body. It also facilitates cardiovascular functions and influences good visual health. It is definitely one of the most complete vitamins.
Vitamin B1 or Thiamine is found in most meats. Mainly in veal, chicken and fish. It is also present in nuts, whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables.
3. Vitamin B6
B6 is one of the most complete vitamins we can find. It brings great benefits to the brain since it favors the formation of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, GABA and acetylcholine. The function of these neurotransmitters, as the name implies, is to transmit the signals that occur in neurons. Let’s see:
- Dopamine is associated with reward circuits. It has great effects on mood.
- Epinephrine and norepinephrine are related to alert systems and intervene in anxiety states.
- GABA regulates the states of restlessness and reduces anxiety and stress.
- Acetylcholine is involved in memory processes.
In addition, vitamin B6 helps in the absorption of B12, which is one of the decisive vitamins for cognitive development. Vitamin B6 deficiency facilitates the appearance of problems such as obsessions or depression. It also affects emotional imbalance in general and sleeping difficulties. It is present in foods such as wheat germ, rice, potatoes, turkey, veal, chicken, lamb, eggs, milk and dairy products, seafood, lentils, peppers, and nuts, among others.
4. Vitamin B9
This is another of the B vitamins that, together with B6 and B12, favor the formation of red blood cells. This contributes to faster oxygen transport and, therefore, facilitates the proper functioning of the brain.
Vitamin B9 is also known as “folic acid” or “folate.” It plays an important role in mental acuity and in the preservation of brain functions. Like B6, it is involved in the formation of several neurotransmitters. Vitamin B6 deficiency facilitates the occurrence of strokes.
Folic acid is found in foods such as legumes, whole grains, spinach and asparagus, brown rice and oatmeal. It is also present in fruits such as banana, orange, melon and avocado. Almost all nuts contain vitamin B9, especially peanuts.
5. Vitamin B12
B12 completes the group of B vitamins that are absolutely necessary for proper brain function. This is, in fact, one of the most important. It contributes to the formation of cells and fatty acids. It is also essential in the synthesis of various substances. Its action is closely related to short-term memory and the speed of thought.
Vitamin B12 deficiency leads to memory losses, mental slowness and negative mood swings. Many researchers associate the lack of B12 with diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Vitamin B12 is in foods such as veal, chicken, turkey and animal viscera. It is also in trout, salmon, clams, whole grains, eggs and dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and the like.
6. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Its action protects the brain from oxidative stress and degenerative processes that take place with age. Its role is decisive in preventing the onset of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Likewise, vitamin C contributes to the iron absorption process. This last element is decisive in functions such as memory and attention. Many people accompany foods with a high concentration of iron, with those that have vitamin C, to achieve greater absorption of that element.
Vitamin C is also considered a natural antidepressant. It has the ability to increase serotonin levels, a decisive neurotransmitter in a good mood. This vitamin is present in all citrus fruits and green vegetables.
7. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential if we want our brain to function normally and properly. Among the most important functions of Vitamin D, it can be said that it improves memory, produces mood benefits and increases the ability to solve problems.
According to some studies, Vitamin D deficits have been associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment. Vitamin D is obtained almost mostly by solar radiation (so it is advisable to sunbathe adequately regardless of age). We can also find Vitamin D in foods such as some fish (sardines, salmon, tuna, and mackerel) or other products such as mushrooms or some types of milk.
8. Vitamin K
Among the most important benefits of this vitamin for the brain is the increase in the speed of brain functions, the improvement of learning and memory and in general cognitive ability. People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease usually show a deficit in vitamin K, so it can be determined that the consumption of this vitamin could help them.
In addition, vitamin K plays a very important role in the blood clotting process and in the calcium absorption process. Mainly we can find this vitamin in Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, parsley, green leafy celery vegetables and fermented foods.
9. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that our body cannot create. Among its benefits, the importance they have for improving brain performance stands out. Eating a diet rich in omega 3 protects our brain from cognitive impairment and helps improve our brain plasticity, concentration and memory.
Omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to memory problems and the reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. We could find them especially in fish, for example, sardines, anchovies, salmon, swordfish, tuna.
Nutrition is a determining aspect in our lives. A good part of health and illness has to do with the way we eat. It is important to become aware of that fact and implement intelligent nutrition in our lives.
How much vitamins should I consume?
Unfortunately, there is no food that contains all the vitamins that our brain needs, therefore it is best to learn to eat healthily and ensure that the levels of all vitamins are adequate, that is, try not to have them or by default Not too much.
The amount of vitamins we should consume may vary from one person to another and their specific needs. However, the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) in general terms would be:
Vitamin A: 800 µg (women) or 1000 µg (men).
Vitamin B1: 1.2 mg.
Vitamin B6: 1.4 mg.
Vitamin B9: 200 µg.
Vitamin B12: 2,5 µg.
Vitamin C: 80 mg.
Vitamin D: 5 µg.
Vitamin K: 75 µg.
Omega-3 fatty acids: 250 to 500 mg.
The consumption of fresh and natural foods is always recommended. In addition to the mandatory daily water consumption. Let us not forget that 85% of the weight of our brain is made up of water! In addition, water keeps us alert and has multiple benefits, so it is essential to always keep the brain hydrated.
The type of food we carry directly influences the proper functioning of our brain. Therefore, the most advisable, if we want to have a healthy brain, is to follow a balanced diet, exercise and keep the mind active daily. Do you know any other vitamins for the brain? You can leave a comment…