Our brain health, cognitive function, and mental health depend on a wide range of factors, including our daily nutritional intake. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help prevent deficiencies associated with several neurological problems such as anxiety and depression.
Many vitamin and mineral deficiencies are caused by malnutrition. Not only does this mean not eating enough, but it also means not eating nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables.
If you have a vitamin deficiency, your body will somehow let you know. Newsweek We spoke with scientists to find out what symptoms and signs suggest that you may be deficient in certain vitamins.
Which vitamins and minerals do your brain need to function?
Rudolf Tanzi, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and scientific adviser to healthcare company Lifeforce, said: Newsweek The most important vitamins and minerals for brain health include B-complex vitamins, vitamin D, omega-3s and magnesium.
B vitamins support your body’s ability to release energy from the food you eat. Vitamin B12 in particular plays an important role in the development and control of the central nervous system.
Low levels of vitamin B6 have been correlated with faster cognitive decline, and adequate intake of vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, has been linked to improved cognitive performance.
Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” promotes neural growth and cognitive function through receptors in the brain. According to Tanzi, it is associated with mood regulation and has neuroprotective effects. It may also reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
“Adequate vitamin D intake early in life is critical for later brain development and cognitive performance,” he says.
omega 3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in cell signaling pathways in the brain, influencing gene expression and other processes that affect brain health and function. It also acts as an energy source and helps the glands produce hormones.
“This means they are involved in many important processes to maintain balance, focus and focus,” Tanzi added.
Magnesium is a mineral that supports nerve function and neurotransmitter release. It plays an important role in maintaining everyday brain activity, such as memory and learning processes. It also helps regulate calcium levels, which is essential for synaptic plasticity (the way neurons communicate with each other efficiently).
Daniel A. Monty, Ph.D., is Professor of Integrative Medicine and Nutritional Sciences at Thomas Jefferson University and CEO and Medical Director of the Marcus Institute for Integrative Health.he said Newsweek Vitamins C and E are also essential for brain health.
“Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect brain cells from oxidative stress,” said Professor Monty. It also plays an important role in the production of “feel good” neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.
Signs You’re Deficient in These 5 Essential Nutrients
According to Monty, deficiencies in these essential vitamins and minerals can cause cognitive decline and contribute to an increased risk of dementia and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
“Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is essential to getting enough vitamins, minerals, probiotics and essential fatty acids,” he said.
“Additionally, a healthy, low-toxic lifestyle that includes regular exercise and stress management techniques such as meditation will further contribute to optimal brain health.”
The brain signals deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals, leading to a variety of symptoms including poor concentration, mood swings, and impaired coordination and balance.
Tanzi explained that if the brain doesn’t get enough vitamin B12, symptoms of “brain fog,” such as memory and concentration problems, can occur. Vitamin D deficiency can also contribute to brain fog.
“If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, you are at a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, as only animal products can supply it. It can reduce head fog,” he added.
A lack of omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in the brain can lead to low energy and an inability to maintain balance, focus and concentration.
Magnesium can cause stress-related cognitive problems.
Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include easy bruising, aching joints, weak bones, a weakened immune system, and unexplained weight gain.
How to reintroduce these vitamins and minerals into your diet
Most of these nutrients can be found in healthy food choices. Dr. Janice Johnston, co-founder and chief medical officer of Redirect Health, said: Newsweek Vitamin B6 is found in chickpeas, fish (such as salmon and tuna), poultry, bananas, and potatoes. Vitamin B12 is found not only in meat and fish, but also in eggs and dairy products.
Folic acid, or vitamin B9, is found in leafy greens such as spinach and kale, legumes such as lentils and beans, and avocados.
You can get your daily need for vitamin D from fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, fortified dairy products, and sun exposure.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in foods such as fish and flaxseeds, or added to your diet through supplements. The main omega-3s are alpha-linolenic acid, EPA and DHA. The first is found in vegetable oils such as soy, flaxseed, and canola, while EPA and DHA are found primarily in fish and other seafood.
To get more magnesium in your diet, eat nuts, seeds, legumes, green leafy vegetables, milk, and yogurt.
Vitamin C is found not only in peppers, but also in fruits such as oranges, lemons, strawberries and kiwis. Vitamin E is found in nuts and seeds such as almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach and broccoli.