Seven Vitamins for a Healthier Brain
Most of us don’t know what vitamins our brain needs to work properly. We eat thinking more about our digestive system or how we look in the mirror, than about this important organ.
Certain substances can help us improve our memory and concentration. They also reduce our risk of neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s. By making slight modifications to our diet, we can see amazing results. Which vitamins do we need to take care of our brain? We’ll tell you about them now.
1. Beta-carotene, one of the best vitamins
Beta-carotene is a vitamin we should never leave out of our diet. It’s what turns into vitamin A, thus its second name, “provitamin A.” Its main contribution improved memory and helping preserve brain cells over time.
A beta-carotene deficit leads to serious problems, like vision problems or in children, stunted growth. We can find this vitamin in foods like carrots and pumpkin, as well as in fruits like melon, papaya, and mango.
2. Vitamin B1
All B vitamins are essential for good brain functioning. B1 in particular has amazing effects on preventing memory loss. It also slows down brain aging and is wonderful for lifting the mood of people suffering from depression.
Vitamin B1 is also called “thiamine” and is present in large quantities in our brain and all of our nerve tissues. It takes part in glucose absorption, so it’s ideal for keeping our energy up. It also helps with cardiovascular functions and has a positive impact on eye health. It is, without a doubt, one of the most complete vitamins.
We can find vitamin B1, or thiamine, in most meat. Especially in beef, chicken, pork, and fish. It’s also in nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
3. Vitamin B6
B6 is one of the most complete vitamins we can find. It does so much for the brain. That’s because it supports the creation of neurotransmitters like dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, GABA, and acetylcholine. These neurotransmitters, as the name suggests, are in charge of transmitting the signals that neurons produce. Let’s look at it in more detail:
- Dopamine is associated with the reward center of our braain. It has huge effects on mood.
- Epinephrine and norepineprhine tie into alert systems and play a role in anxiety.
- GABA regulates pain and helps reduce stress and anxiety.
- Acetylcholine takes part in memory processes.
Vitamin B6 also helps with the absorption of B12, which is an extremely important vitamin for cognitive development. Vitamin B6 deficiency leads to problems like depression. It also has an impact on general emotional imbalances and trouble sleeping. It’s in foods like wheat germ, rice, potatoes, turkey, beef, chicken, lamb, eggs, milk and dairy products, pork, seafood, lentils, peppers, and nuts, among other things.
4. Vitamin B9
This is another B vitamin that works with B6 and B12 to help create red blood cells. This one helps speed up oxygenation. Thus, it is excellent for your brain.
Vitamin B9 is also called “folic acid” or “folate.” It plays an important role in keeping your mind sharp. Like B6, it helps in the formation of various neurotransmitters. Vitamin B9 deficiency can lead to stroke.
We can find folic acid in foods like legumes, whole wheat, spinach and asparagus, rice, and oats. It’s also in fruits like bananas, oranges, melon, and avocado. Almost all nuts contain vitamin B9, especially peanuts.
5. Vitamin B12
B12 completes the B-complex vitamin group, which are all absolutely necessary for good brain functioning. This one is actually one of the most important of all. It contributes to the formation of cells and fatty acids. It’s also fundamental in the synthesis of various substances. It is closely linked to short term memory.
Vitamin B12 deficiency causes memory loss, a sluggish mind, and negative changes in mood. Many researchers associate a lack of B12 with diseases like Alzheimer’s. Vitamin B12 is in foods like beef, chicken, turkey, and animal guts. It’s also in trout, salmon, clams, whole wheat, eggs, and dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and others.
6. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It protects the brain from oxidative stress and the degenerative processes that come with age. It plays a significant role in preventing diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other forms of dementia.
In addition, vitamin C helps us absorb iron. This is important for memory and focus. Many people mix their high-iron foods with vitamin C-containing foods, so they’ll absorb more iron.
Many people also see vitamin C as a natural anti-depressant. It has the ability to increase our levels of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter for our mood. This vitamin is present in all citrus fruits, and green vegetables.
7. Other vitamins
There are other vitamins that are also very important for good brain functioning. One of those is vitamin D. According to many studies, it helps with illnesses like multiple sclerosis and certain depressive disorders. We can find this vitamin in fish like sardines, salmon, and tuna, as well as mushrooms.
Vitamin K contributes to better learning and memory. People who suffer from Alzheimer’s also tend to have a vitamin K deficiency. We can find this vitamin in high concentrations in broccoli. We can also find it in brussel sprouts, parsley, leafy vegetables, asparagus, celery, and fermented foods.
Lastly, vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acids are also extremely good for the brain. The former is a wonderful antioxidant, while the latter helps increase brain plasticity. With both, we are better protected from degenerative processes, and our mind is sharpened.
Nutrition is a determining factor in the quality of our life. A large part of health and illness have to do with the way we feed ourselves. Let’s eat intelligently.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Ibáñez E. Nutrientes y función cognitiva Nutrición Hospitalaria [Internet]. 2009; 2(2): 3-12. Disponible en: https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/3092/309226754002.pdf
- Martínez R, Jiménez A, López A, Ortega R. Estrategias nutricionales que mejoran la función cognitiva. Nutrición Hospitalaria [Internet]. 2018;35(6): 16-19. Disponible en: https://doi.org/10.20960/nh.2281
- Hernández C, Flores M, Macías N, Flores J, Hernández C. Vitamina D y Esclerosis Múltiple: Evidencia científica. Neurología Argentina. 2013; 4(4): 250-258.
- Mikola T, Marx W, Lane M, et al. The effect of vitamin D supplementation on depressive symptoms in adults: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition [Internet]. 2022: 1-18. Disponible en: https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2022.2096560