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:
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.
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
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.
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
- Loss of short-term memory
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.
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:
- Loss of focus and concentration
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Having low levels of B12 can have some serious consequences including:
- Brain fog
- Memory loss
- 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.
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.
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
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.
Symptoms of Vitamin E deficiency include:
- Cognitive impairment
- Muscle weakness
- Balance issues
Foods Rich in Vitamin E: Almonds, kale, Swiss chard, parsley, olives
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.
Low levels of zinc are associated with:
- Attention and focus problems
- Lowered immune system
- Acne or rashes
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
- How to Increase Brain Power: 10 Simple Ways to Train Your Brain
- 7 Simple Brain Training Habits to Boost Your Brain Power
- How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter
Featured photo credit: Tom Morel via unsplash.com