Brain Health

what to feed your brain

Feeding your brain the correct nutrients is not only vital for optimum function but also critical for your mental health.

The list of vitamins and minerals that are cofactors in the essential functions is long!

Vitamin B1 – The mitochondrial powerhouses rely on B1 for brain glucose metabolism. Deficiency in B1 has been linked to a number of brain disorders1. Sources of Vitamin B1 include Pork, salmon, flax seeds, tofu and brown rice.

Vitamin B6 – Important for the creation of neurotransmitters, those critical chemical messengers. B6 is also important for regulating the energy use in the brain and deficiency has been linked to cognitive decline2.

Sources of Vitamin B6 include poultry, such as chicken and turkey, salmon, tuna, chickpeas, oats and bulgar wheat and sweet potato.

Vitamin B12 – An important vitamin throughout the body, it has a role to play in the synthesis of neurotransmitters as well as potentially delaying the onset of dementia3.

Sources of B12 are highest in offal foods such as liver and kidneys, rarely eaten in todays society. Meat and fish are generally good sources, vegetarians have to look a little harder with the higher sources coming in the form of milk and cheese.

Vitamin D – Acting more like a hormone, it’s involved in regulating genes associated with brain function and has been linked to a reduction in depression4. Being exposed to sunshine is probably the best source Vitamin D, yet the active form, D3, can also be found in fatty, oily fish and in smaller amounts within eggs.

Vitamin E – Used by the brain for nervous membrane protection, higher levels have been associated with improved cognitive function5.

Sources include a variety of nuts and seeds, including sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts and pine nuts.

Magnesium – is essential for optimal nerve transmission and neuromuscular coordination and is now considered as a potential nutrient used for the prevention and treatment in neurological conditions6.

Generally foods containing dietary fibre contain magnesium with higher sources found in leafy green vegetables.

There are many other nutrients and lifestyle factors involved in brain health, including, regular exercise, quality sleep and stress management in particular. Hopefully this highlights the importance of consuming a balanced and overall nutrient dense diet. The food you consume has a direct influence on your brain function and mental health. Starving your brain of these key vitamins and minerals combined with a lack of movement, sunlight and increased exposure to stress could be related to a variety of mood disorders and early cognitive decline.

brain nutrients cont'd