Created on: September 20, 2011 Last Updated: September 27, 2011
Many nutrients have been shown to help improve brain health, memory and cognition. The human brain is a complex organ. Comprised of water, neurotransmitters and fat, the brain needs a constant supply of blood, glucose and hydration to function. Adding healthy foods and vitamin supplements can improve the health of the brain.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to aid memory and to help restore brain focus. Fish oil, long known as “brain food” is a good source of Omega-3, as are leafy green vegetables, chia seeds, borage oil, flax seeds, evening primrose oil and seaweed. Omega-3 fatty acids have been used to treat depression and lift mood swings. They are also used in anti-aging medicine and to help maintain healthy function of the heart and the eyes.
The B vitamins work as a group, called B complex. All of the B vitamins help reduce stress in the body and boost brain function. B12 in particular is useful for mental focus. B12 is difficult to assimilate through the digestive system, so many supplemental forms of B12 utilize a sublingual approach. B12 injections are also utilized. The body cannot manufacture its own B12, and most of the sources of this important nutrient are from meat and fish. For this reason, it is especially important for vegetarians to supplement with B12. Migraine headaches and macular degeneration are also headed off by taking B12. The best natural sources of B12 are in organ meats, such as liver, and in salmon, clams, and mollusks.
The adaptogen herbs are a variety of plants that have shown themselves to adapt well to change. Ginseng was the first plant put into the category. Many of these plants enable the brain to function better. The Ayurvedic herb, ashwaganda, is one of them. Research has shown that ashwaganda lowers cortisol levels in the blood, thereby lowering stress and improving brain function. Both ashwaganda and ginseng raise blood testosterone levels, which also helps brain focus. St. John’s Wort, known as Hypericum perforatum, while not an adaptogen, has been used clinically to improve mood and treat mild depression.
The brain needs protein for proper function, especially protein foods that contain sulfur. Sulfur aids in the glutathione production, and glutathione is important for brain function. Eggs are a good source of sulfur and of protein.
Vitamin D is responsible for many chemical processes in the body, and has been shown to be important for memory and brain focus. Vitamin D works with calcium, which is one of nature’s best tranquilizers, which can lead to a quiet and well focused brain.
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