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Last Updated on January 20, 2021

10 Brain Vitamins for Enhanced Brain Power and Focus

10 Brain Vitamins for Enhanced Brain Power and Focus

Your brain is the house your mind lives in. The brain is the most high-powered organ we have and requires the right amount and type of fuel to work properly. When we don’t give our brain the right fuel, it slows us down, dampers our focus, and makes us more unhappy and unmotivated. That’s why brain vitamins can be a key addition to your diet.

If you want to maximize your brain power so as to increase your focus, think more clearly, and live a happier and longer life, then pay attention because this article will give you the top nutrients you need to maximize your brain power and what foods to include in your diet in order to get them.

Here are what your brain needs and where to get them:

1. Omega-3s

Your brain is made up of 60% fat, so if you want a healthy and optimally performing brain, you need to ensure you’re giving your brain the right building blocks, and fat is one of the most important. Fat has been vilified over the years as being the big villain of health, but in reality, high-quality fat is not only good for you, it’s essential for your brain power and health.

Some of the most important fats to give your brain are Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s, such as DHA, are the essential nutrients that form the outer layer of our brain cells and help improve cognitive function and support brain health overall.

In fact, not getting enough Omega-3s in your diet can affect normal brain development and cognition. It has also been shown to be implicated in premature brain aging and cognitive decline associated with a risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.[1]

Getting healthy sources of omega-3s from your diet is critical for optimal brain power.

Foods Rich in Omega-3s: Walnuts, chia seeds, sardines, salmon, flaxseed, eggs, fish oil

2. Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral that is critical for brain activity and has been known to calm the brain and nervous system to the point it has been called “nature’s natural valium.” Magnesium is essential for hundreds of metabolic processes within the body and brain, yet it is still the second most common nutritional deficiency in the world.

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Magnesium helps the brain by:

  • Providing anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Lowering stress hormones
  • Increasing neuroplasticity
  • Relaxing the nervous system
  • Helping to lift depression
  • Reducing anxiety

Foods Rich in Magnesium: Almonds, spinach, cashews, avocado, black beans

3. Vitamin B1: Thiamine

Many B vitamins are known to be beneficial for brain health and well-being, but for this article, let’s focus on some of the critical B vitamins.

B1, also known as thiamine, is needed for a large number of metabolic processes in the body, including the processes that manage your energy. Your brain uses tremendous amounts of energy throughout the day. Having low levels of thiamine can rob your brain of the vital energy that it needs.

Thiamine can boost your mood, energy, and alertness by providing the energy your brain cells need to work effectively and keep their strength up, making this one of the most important brain vitamins.

Low levels of thiamine have been associated with:

  • Nerve damage
  • Nerve inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of short-term memory
  • Confusion
  • Irritability

Having enough vitamin B1 (thiamine) is essential for optimal brain performance and health by providing your brain the energy is needs to get through the day.

Foods Rich in Vitamin B1: Seaweed, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, lentils, black beans

4. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is critical for helping to improve your mood to make you feel happier but is also important to combat mental fatigue. B6 is a critical component for building the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.

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Serotonin is known as your happy neurotransmitter and is vitally important for improving your mood. Norepinephrine helps your brain stay focused and alert.

Symptoms of B6 deficiency include:

  • Irritability
  • Loss of focus and concentration
  • Fatigue
  • Memory trouble
  • Muscle pains

Foods Rich in Vitamin B6: Grass-fed beef, pistachios, tuna, turkey breast, avocado

5. Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 is known as folate. Folate is especially important for normal brain development. Folate is an important component in creating many neurotransmitters that the brain uses to communicate and regulate our immune system. Folate is also a natural antioxidant, and studies have shown that it can help preserve brain function and improve memory.[2]

Low levels of folate can be detrimental to the brain. Low levels of folate have been shown to lead to increased degeneration in the cerebral cortex, as well as cognitive impairment and decline.[3]

Symptoms of low levels of folate include:

  • Lowered immune function
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Increased irritability or anxiety
  • Brain fog

Foods Rich in Vitamin B9: Spinach, beef liver, broccoli, asparagus, romaine lettuce

6. Vitamin B12

B12 is essential for many aspects of our health and wellbeing, including building strong bones, hair, skin, nails, immune system, and heart health. B12 is also extremely important for your brain and mental well-being and is one of the essential brain vitamins.[4]

B12 is necessary for many aspects of mental performance, including being able to memorize and stay focused. It also plays an important role in producing serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine is your motivation and reward neurotransmitter.

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Having low levels of B12 can have some serious consequences including:[5]

  • Brain fog
  • Memory loss
  • Depression[6]
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations and Schizophrenia (severe cases)

B12 is commonly found in many animal products and meats, so those who eat a plant-based diet should pay special attention to their B12 to make sure they are getting enough of it in their diet from plant sources or supplementation.

Foods Rich in Vitamin B12: Beef liver, sardines, wild salmon, eggs, nutritional yeast

7. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a very powerful and important antioxidant for your brain. Your brain consumes a lot of energy and oxygen in order to do its job. Antioxidants like Vitamin C protect the brain from the wear and tear of doing its job.

Vitamin C is also needed to produce important neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are important regulators of your mood, so without Vitamin C to produce these them, your mood may suffer.[7]

Foods Rich in Vitamin C: Broccoli, citrus fruits, bell peppers, watermelon, spinach

8. Vitamin D

The “sunshine” vitamin is arguably one of the most important brain vitamins that many people miss out on. Vitamin D is usually associated with bone health and reduced risk of heart disease, but it’s been shown in research that Vitamin D may play a critical role in your brain performance. Several studies have shown that low levels of Vitamin D can impair cognitive function and performance.[8]

Fewer people are getting outside in the natural sunlight, leading to more cases of vitamin D deficiency than ever before. The best part about Vitamin D is that you can get it for free or extremely cheap. Just a few minutes a day of natural sunlight can make a big difference in your Vitamin D levels.

Foods Rich in Vitamin D: Natural sunlight, or find a Vitamin D dietary supplement

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9. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are critical to help our bodies fight off oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a metabolic process that occurs in the body that wears and tears on our cells. Antioxidants fight against this wear and tear to keep our cells youthful and optimally functioning.

Vitamin E is an often overlooked vitamin for brain health. It prevents oxidative stress from damaging an important component of our brain cells, DHA. DHA forms the outer membrane of our brain cells, and Vitamin E works to prevents oxidative stress from damaging our brain cells to keep our brain young, energetic, and high-performing.[9]

Symptoms of Vitamin E deficiency include:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Balance issues

Foods Rich in Vitamin E: Almonds, kale, Swiss chard, parsley, olives

10. Zinc

Zinc is essential for neuron growth and performance. The highest concentration of zinc is located in your brain, particularly in your hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in regulating your limbic system, the region that regulates emotions. Neurons require zinc in order to communicate effectively with one another.[10]

Low levels of zinc are associated with:

  • Attention and focus problems
  • Lowered immune system
  • Acne or rashes
  • Diarrhea

Foods Rich in Zinc: Pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, cashews, mushrooms, spinach

The Bottom Line

Your brain works hard, and it takes plenty of nutrients and fuel to keep it working well. Getting the amount and type of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients can make the difference in feeling energized or feeling sluggish throughout the day.

Eat a wide variety of foods that include a vast array of the top brain vitamins and nutrients to ensure your brain is getting plenty of the resources it needs to work efficiently. If you want more brain power, make sure you give it brain power foods.

More Tips for Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Tom Morel via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Brain Research: Dietary omega 3 fatty acids and the developing brain.
[2] Journal of Neural Transmission: Folic acid prevented cognitive impairment in experimental pneumococcal meningitis
[3] Neurobiology of Disease: Folate deprivation induces neurodegeneration: roles of oxidative stress and increased homocysteine
[4] ShareCare: What are the health benefits of vitamin B12?
[5] Harvard School of Public Health: Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Causes and Symptoms
[6] Journal of Psychopharmacology: Treatment of depression: time to consider folic acid and vitamin B12.
[7] Dr. Prerana Gupta, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Teerthanker Mahaveer Medical College and Research Centre, Moradabad (U.P.).: Relationship Between Depression and Vitamin C Status: A Study on Rural Patients From Western Uttar Pradesh in India
[8] Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation: Vitamin D and cognitive function
[9] Neurobiology of Aging: Tocopherols and tocotrienols plasma levels are associated with cognitive impairment
[10] Biological Psychiatry: Zinc, the brain and behavior.

More by this author

Dr Brady Salcido

Dr Brady is a Doctor, Podcast Host, and Brain Optimization Expert sharing how you can use your lifestyle to upgrade your life.

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Published on February 24, 2021

What Is Fish Oil Good For And Can It Give You Energy?

What Is Fish Oil Good For And Can It Give You Energy?

At some point, you’ve probably come across information saying that fish oil is high in omega-3 and is a valuable supplement to take on a regular basis.

However, you may well have been sceptical of this information, as there are so many supplements being heavily marketed today, that it’s hard to know which ones are truly beneficial and which ones are simply a waste of money.

Plus, when it comes to fish oil, you may have heard that it can be a potential source of dangerous levels of the heavy metal mercury due to the industrial poisoning of our air and water over the last few decades.

It’s right to be sceptical about claims from supplement producers, but it’s also wise to know how to distinguish between good, healthy supplements from bad, unhealthy ones.

Personally, having to tackle multiple demands at work (as the CEO and founder of Lifehack) and in my family life (I have a wife and two kids), I started to notice that in the last few years that I was beginning to feel tired easily. When I was younger, I found it relatively easy to cope with these demands; but since hitting 40 years of age a short while ago, I noticed myself tiring quicker than I used to do before. I also noticed that I lacked the ‘get up and go’ that I used to have.

This noticeable decline in my energy levels led me to spend months researching and trying out different methods and supplements to help me regain my previous energy and productivity levels. One method I found that has conclusively worked has been to add fish oil to my daily diet. Quite frankly, it’s made a significant and positive difference to my health and well-being. I can now achieve the things I want to achieve at work, while still having ample energy to enjoy life with my family and friends.

I’ll give you all the information you need to know about fish oil — including whether it’s good for your energy and your brain — so you can make an informed choice on whether to add it to your diet or not.

What Is Fish Oil?

Let’s get started by taking a look at exactly what fish oil is.

Firstly, it’s important not to confuse fish oil with cod liver oil, krill oil or shark liver oil. These are different oils, that would need a different explanation, so in this article I’ll stick to just discussing fish oil.

Fish oil can be consumed either by eating cold-water fish or by taking it in supplement form. It’s derived from the tissues of oily fish such as herring, mackerel and salmon, and is loaded with beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

Interestingly, fish don’t produce this oil on their own; the oil primarily comes from their consumption of algae and plankton.[1]

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It’s worth noting that the human body does not produce many of its own omega-3 fatty acids. It also can’t make omega-3 fatty acids from omega-6 fatty acids — which are common in our contemporary Western diet.

Extensive research has been done on EPA and DHA, which are two types of omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish oil. The research to date strongly suggests that these omega-3 fatty acids can offer numerous health benefits when consumed on a regular basis.[2]

Let’s look now at some of these benefits of fish oil, and whether you should choose to consume the oil or not.

Health Benefits of Taking Fish Oil

I’m sure you’re probably thinking… is fish oil good for you?

Fish oil is a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are actually essential to the proper operation of our brain and body. Without these fatty acids, we’ll always be running below par.

So what exactly are the omega-3 fish oil benefits?

Here are the benefits of fish oil:[3]

  1. Boost brain power and mental clarity
  2. Fight anxiety and depression
  3. Improve sleep
  4. Improve eye health
  5. Promote brain health during pregnancy and early life
  6. Improve the condition of the skin
  7. Ffight age-related mental decline
  8. Fight inflammation
  9. Help with weight loss
  10. Improve risk factors for heart disease
  11. Help prevent cancer
  12. Fight Autoimmune Diseases

Find out more in this article: 11 Benefits of Fish Oil That You Didn’t Know About

Now, you might look at that list and think that many of the health benefits are not directly related to your energy and productivity. But please look again, as any ailment, disease or disorder will definitely impact your overall energy and well-being.

In my research of fish oil, I was surprised to discover that men and women benefit differently from it.

One of the key gender differences is how omega-3 fatty acids affect the ‘stickiness’ of blood. A 2010 trial by scientists from Australia’s University of Newcastle found that EPA and DHA reacted differently in males and females when it came to helping prevent a tendency for platelets in the blood clumping together to form dangerous clots (known as platelet aggregation).

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The scientists discovered that while the combination EPA and DHA both reduced platelet aggregation, there was a gender difference. Namely, EPA was significantly more effective in men, compared with DHA or placebo capsules — while DHA was significantly more effective in women, compared with EPA or placebo capsules.[4]

The University of Newcastle scientists proposed that the differences could be caused by differing interactions between the male and female sex hormones and the two omega-3s (EPA and DHA).

It’s important to note that, despite the gender differences, the study does not undermine the health benefits of consuming fish oil.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, fish oil will help you to stay fit, healthy and energetic.

Where Can You Reap the Benefits of Fish Oil?

If you’re interested in adding fish oil to your diet to help your energy and health, then you have a couple of choices.

Firstly, as you’re probably aware, you can get fish oil directly from eating cold-water fish. Some of the best fish varieties to go for (that supply the most omega-3s) are:[5]

However, if you don’t like the taste of these fish, or you don’t have the opportunity to eat them regularly, then the alternative is to take a fish oil supplement.

In my experience, fish oil supplements vary widely in price, quality and purity. Some of the high-street brands just don’t offer sufficient omega-3 quantities to make them a worthwhile investment.

Personally, and after many months of experimentation, I now take one capsule per day of Infuel Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement. This premium fish oil is loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids with high EPA and DHA content. These fish oil pills benefits include:

  • Promoting brain health
  • Improving heart health
  • Maintaining healthy bones and joints
  • Improving skin tone and texture
  • Enhancing sleep
  • Boosting energy and well-being

I recommend that you give Infuel Omega 3 Fish Oil a try. It’s only $12.95 for 60 soft gels, with each gel containing a generous 1,200mg of high-quality fish oil providing 720mg of omega-3s.

I believe it will make a positive and significant difference to the way you tackle your work and home life. You’ll have the mental and physical strength to overcome whatever challenges life throws at you.

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Try it and see for yourself the many benefits of fish oil supplements.

If you’re looking for more options, check out this article: 5 Best Fish Oil Supplements to Buy For A Healthier Brain

How Much Fish Oil Should I Take Daily?

Whether through eating fish or taking a supplement, there is an optimum amount of fish oil that you should take on a daily basis. (I’ll answer the question ‘So how much fish oil is too much?’ in a moment.)

Of course, this will vary from person to person. A small child will obviously need less than a 6-foot man, for instance.

So how much fish oil is too much?

As a general rule, if you’re eating two to three portions of oily fish a week, then you will be ingesting a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids. But if you don’t eat much fish, then supplementation is definitely the way to go.

Currently, there isn’t an agreed standard for how many omega-3s we should consume each day, but suggestions range from a fish oil daily dosage of 500mg to 1,000mg.[6]

You may also want to look at this fish oil dosage chart created by Omega 3 Innovation:[7]

    *Level of EPA/DHA depends on the species, time of year, how the fish is prepared, whether it was farm raised or wild caught, etc.

    Questions you might have at this point: ‘Can you consume too much fish oil?’ and ‘Are there omega-3 fish oil side effects?’.

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    According, to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), omega-3 supplements containing EPA and DHA are safe provided doses don’t exceed 3,000 mg per day.

    However, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has a different position, stating that doses up to 5,000 mg per day from supplements is safe.

    It’s important that you stick to these cautions as excessive intake of omega-3s can cause blood thinning in some people. It’s because of this that many organizations recommend people who have surgery planned stop taking omega-3 supplements 1–2 weeks beforehand.[8]

    There’s also the risk of taking too much Vitamin A, which can be toxic in high doses and lead to liver problems and hair loss. It may also harm unborn babies, so pregnant mothers should avoid fish oil and Vitamin A supplements.[9]

    Personally, given that 5,000 mg of omega-3s has never been shown to provide any added benefits, I strongly advise you to stay within the safe intake limits. It will protect your health — and your bank balance!

    What’s the best time to take fish oil?

    Feel free to take it every day. It can also be consumed at any time of the day.

    Having said that, you might want to split your daily fish oil consumption into two smaller doses — one for the morning, one for the evening. This can help reduce any potential acid reflux and indigestion effects that you might get from consuming the oil.[10]

    Fish Oil Can Be Your Energy-Boosting Friend

    I hope this article has helped you to see some of the amazing health benefits that consuming fish oil on a regular basis can bring; and answered your questions such as: ‘Why take fish oil?’ and ‘When to take fish oil?’ and ‘How much fish oil per day?’.

    For me, having taken fish oil supplements for several years now, I’ve definitely noticed a major uptick in my overall health and well-being. I have way more energy than before. Plus I feel more physically and mentally resilient that I’ve done in a very long time.

    I’d encourage you to try consuming fish oil for a few months (unless you’re pregnant or going into surgery) to see the positive effects for yourself.

    I’m confident that after a few months — you won’t want to stop taking it!

    Featured photo credit: Caroline Attwood via unsplash.com

    Reference

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