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6 vitamins to take care of brain health

6 vitamins to take care of brain health

June 24, 2024

It is common to hear that the fact of eating whole foods, fruits and vegetables, can help us lose weight and reduce the risk of suffering from heart-related diseases. What is not so usual is to hear that, in addition to these benefits, there are others that affect our brain: it improves memory, increases concentration , and can even prevent Alzheimer's .

Vitamins and brain health

In recent years, researchers have been able to understand more precisely which vitamins are improve brain function and that will have a greater impact on health. Here are some benefits that vitamins bring to our brain:

Vitamin E

There is evidence to suggest that vitamin E may benefit memory in the elderly. A recent study by the American Medical Association found that high levels of vitamin E prevent and delay the development of Alzheimer's .

For a long time it was thought that the component of Vitamin E called alpha tocopherol was the most important, but another called gamma tocopherol is "definitely the one that has the neuroprotective properties", says Aimee Shunney, the coordinator of the Wellness Education Program of the University Hospital in Brooklin, New York.

When consuming foods rich in Vitamin E, such as asparagus , the almonds , the tomatoes , the walnuts or the olive oil , quantities of both alpha and gamma tocopherol are ingested.

Regardless of age it is important to take the appropriate amount of vitamin E. The deficit of this vitamin is not usual , but it can occur in people with a low fat diet.

Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 plays an important role in the formation of dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and serotonin, brain neurotransmitters. In fact, each vitamin B plays a decisive role in preserving brain functions and Mental acuity . Starting with folic acid (vitamin B9), which is essential in the premature development of the brain, these vitamins help in many aspects to our body and our brain.

There are several studies that have associated the deterioration of memory with inadequate levels of folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6. Low levels of vitamin B9 are related to high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is produced in the human body. High levels of homocysteine ​​in the blood can damage the lining of the arteries and cause the blood to clot more easily than it should. This increases the risk of obstructing blood vessels due to the formation of a clot (thrombus) inside the vessel. A thrombus can travel through the bloodstream and get stuck in the lungs (pulmonary embolism), in the brain (stroke) or in the heart (heart attack).

B12 vitamin

Vitamin B12 has a large number of roles in the body including the formation of myelin , a layer that covers the axon of some neurons. In general, a neuron with myelin-coated axons transmits nerve impulses a hundred times faster than an unmyelinated neuron, producing greater efficiency in the functioning of the organism.

Vitamin B12 is found mostly in meat and fish , and therefore, vegetarian people are more likely to have deficits. This deficit can cause memory loss, mental retardation or negatively affect mood.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 helps convert tryptophan to serotonin, a chemical found in the brain. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and obsession . Vitamin B6 deficiency can cause confusion, depression, memory loss, a faster rate of brain degeneration, difficulty paying attention, fatigue, and insomnia. Therefore, an adequate consumption of vitamin B6 can lead to a greater mental energy, motivation, clarity of thought, better memory formation, improvement of the concentration and health of the neurons, as well as better quality of sleep (favors the melatonin creation).

In addition, studies seem to indicate that this vitamin also intervenes in the formation of dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and GABA. This last neurotransmitter has an important function in the reduction of stress and anxiety, and helps to calm and relax the brain.

Finally, vitamin B6 is also important in the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in the codification of memory, consolidation of information and functions of working memory.

Among the foods rich in vitamin B6 we can find: chicken , Salmon , tuna , green pepper , spinach , broccoli , peanuts , wholemeal bread , or lentils .

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is famous for its importance in the prevention of cancer, colds or cardiovascular diseases, but its benefits in relation to the brain and the mind are not as well known. A study by the Medical Research Unit at McGill University in Canada found that vitamin C increases serotonin levels and, consequently, improves mood.

For Jean Carpenter, author of the book Your Miracle Brain, "it's smart to take vitamin C, and vitamin C could make you smarter." Carpenter argues that taking vitamin C can improve memory and cognitive functions, and therefore improve the score on intelligence tests.

Like vitamin E, vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants. The combination of these vitamins has a preventive effect on the development of Alzehimer and Parkinson's. Some sources of vitamin C are: orange , the strawberries , the broccoli , the spinach or the grapefruit .

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is obtained mainly by the action of ultraviolet rays (solar rays). Hence the importance of sunbathing rationally and adequately, especially in the case of children, in which the lack of vitamin D can produce, among other consequences, tooth decay and bone-type malformations. In addition, this vitamin can also be found in some fish such as salmon or sardines.

According to the investigations, vitamin D is necessary for the normal development of the brain and could prevent multiple sclerosis (EM) The research agrees that it is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system, regulating it and suppressing the proliferation of inflammatory cells related to the activity of MS. It seems that supplementation with vitamin D in MS patients can be beneficial and, therefore, advisable given the few adverse effects that it entails.

On the other hand, the joint research of the University of Pittsburgh (United States) and the Technical University of Queensland in Australia, concluded that vitamin D could have a regulatory role in the development of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This disorder is a type of depression related to seasonal changes and is believed to affect 10% of the population, depending on geographic location.

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