Your brain is the most complex organ you have, and it controls executive functions including focus, motivation, memory and creativity. You can supplement your diet to boost important brain processes and support long-term brain health. We recommend these 5 essential vitamins and minerals to keep your brain healthy:
Vitamins are fundamental in many processes in the body. Vitamin B is important to those that maintain brain functions like learning, information processing, memory and mood.
- B3, also called niacin, plays a crucial role in metabolism and communication between cells. Easily digestible sources of B3 include animal-based foods like meat and fish and niacin-fortified cereals.
- B6, also called pyridoxine, is essential for the development of brain cells, blood production, immune function and mood regulation. You can get vitamin B6 from a variety of foods such as poultry, offal, potatoes, peppers, bananas, prunes and sunflower seeds.
- B9 is known as folate, while the synthetic form of the vitamin is called folic acid. Vital for growth and development, folate also helps with memory and the processing of information. The effect of folate on conditions like memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease is being medically reviewed. It is possible that adequate folate can reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older adults. Broccoli and leafy greens such as spinach are the richest natural sources of folate. Folic acid is frequently used in supplements and to fortify cereals.
- B12 contains cobalt, which gives it its alternative name of cobalamin. Vitamin B12 is important in the production of red blood cells and the healthy function of the brain and nervous system. B12 is thought to affect memory and serotonin production, which regulates mood. B12 deficiency has been linked to fatigue, so it is also believed to play a role in energy levels.
- Choline is not technically a vitamin, but this nutrient is grouped with the B vitamins because it is so similar. Choline is essential in the production of neurotransmitters in the brain that deal with learning and memory. Your liver produces around 10% of the choline you need, and the rest can be sourced from eggs, fish, offal, quinoa and almonds.
Mainly obtained from fruits and vegetables, minerals play a similar role to B vitamins in their contribution to brain health. Minerals support many functions including brain metabolism, learning, memory and mood. Essential minerals that keep your brain healthy are iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium. Rich sources of these minerals include spinach, shellfish, whole grains and nuts.
Nootropics are a group of natural ingredients that are believed to improve brain health and function. They positively impact your cognition, memory and neuroplasticity, and could protect against the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to sourcing nootropics from supplements like PhD Life MIND, there are three common nootropics that you can easily find in foods.
Where to find Nootropics:
- Found naturally in tea, L-theanine is an amino acid that increases the brain’s alpha waves. This promotes creativity and produces a relaxed yet alert state of mind. Caffeine is also present in tea, and it too is a nootropic agent. The combination of both in tea makes the L-theanine more potent than when taken alone.
- Caffeine works by blocking the receptors that tell you you’re tired, therefore you feel more alert and focused. Being a stimulant, overdoing it can have negative effects, so don’t exceed 400mg a day, which is about 4 cups of coffee.
- Creatine is a nootropic agent important for muscle growth and energy metabolism, but its bonus is that it also improves cognitive function and memory. Creatine has antioxidant properties, so it is likely to improve mental health conditions like depression and reduce the risk of age-related diseases. Many supplements contain creatine, and you can source it naturally from red meats, fish, milk and cranberries.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The most well-known of the nootropics are omega-3 fatty acids, but they’re so unique that they should be considered on their own. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial to brain health as well as many other areas of health. They are thought to reduce inflammation and improve blood flow.
One of the two fatty acids present in fish oil, DHA, plays a major role in the maintenance of brain function. The other, EHA, protects against brain ageing through its anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil can be used as a source to provide your body with some omega-3. It is recommended to use supplements or eat two portions of oily fish a week in order to get the optimum amount.
Your body is constantly exposed to oxidative stress caused by excess free radicals. Everyday factors like poor diet, air pollution and even physical activity can cause excess free radical production. Your body is normally able to counteract this with antioxidants, but when this isn’t possible, the imbalance results in oxidative stress.
By supplementing with antioxidants, you can help your body defend against oxidative stress. Reducing oxidative stress can also decelerate ageing and degenerative diseases that it can lead to. Antioxidants include vitamins C and E and beta carotene, and you can find them in many vegetables, including carrots and broccoli. Peaches, lentils, herbs and spices are also rich in antioxidants.
At PhD, we understand that you want to be at your very best every day. To help you achieve this, we have created PhD life, a range of premium, expertly formulated health optimisation products. From our high in protein, low sugar, plant-based Complete meal solution, and Reset, our night time formula, to Mind, made to support optimal mental performance, we’ve created a new range to optimise you for life. Check out the entire PhD Life Range here.