Getting all the necessary nutrients and vitamins that your brain needs entirely from your diet is a tough ask.
Unavoidable factors like stress, sugar, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, medications, and poor digestion increase your need for vitamins.
The vitamins required can make you happier and help you live longer and although all vitamins are required for best health and brain function, there are a few which do more benefit relative to the rest.
Vitamin C: The Most Common Vitamin
Vitamin C is arguably the most popular vitamin supplement thanks to it being completely safe, inexpensive and ability to widely prevent and minimize the risk of allergies or the common cold.
It is a natural antihistamine used by millions of people to reduce allergy symptoms and numerous studies have concluded that it can help prevent both heart disease and even cancer.
However, its benefits as the most important vitamin for the brain aren’t common knowledge. Continue reading to find out the many reasons why vitamin C ranks above other vitamins in the role it plays for your brain.
Production of Neurotransmitters
The brain has approximately 100 billion neurons which communicate with each other via chemicals found in the brain called neurotransmitters.
Vitamin C is crucial to produce neurotransmitters since they impact your ability to focus, concentrate, and remember things. The same also control your mood, cravings, addictions, and sleep.
Improving Your Overall Mood
Vitamin C can ease your mind and is particularly helpful in depressing times. According to a specific study, subjects given vitamin C reported feeling happier, often within as little as one week.
Since vitamin C increases the neurotransmitter Serotonin, which is the “happy molecule,” it may act as a natural antidepressant.
Vitamin C supplements can easily improve your IQ, memory and lots of other mental functions. Students with the highest blood levels of vitamin C did better on memory tests, but higher amounts of vitamin C can boost brain function regardless of age.
Mitigating Risk of Brain Degeneration
Vitamin C protects against age-related brain degeneration or mental decline, including problems like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and strokes. 2,000 mg is the recommended daily dosage for vitamin C.
Preventing Free Radical Damage
The brain is susceptible to free radical damage because of its high oxygen usage. Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidant vitamins and its antioxidant power can be enhanced further when taken in addition to vitamin E since when taken together, these vitamins have a special synergistic effect.
Improving Blood Circulation
By facilitating the building of collagen that keeps arteries flexible, vitamin C improves blood flow to your brain. This increases flow of oxygen and nutrients to your brain.
Detoxifying Heavy Metals
The brain accumulates toxic heavy metals. For example, Mercury gets into our systems from seafood and from amalgam dental fillings. Aluminum has long been suspected of contributing to Alzheimer’s and easily leeches from aluminum cookware.
Vitamin C acts as an amazing detoxifier that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier to remove these metals from the brain.
Protecting from Excessive Amounts of Glutamate
Glutamate is a naturally occurring brain chemical but too much glutamate contributes to brain health issues like epilepsy and depression. However, Vitamin C protects neuroreceptors that act as a brake, controlling the release of Glutamate.
Vitamin C: Food Sources
When most people think of a vitamin for the mind, vitamin C usually makes them think of oranges or orange juice (if you are from the south!). However, oranges aren’t the only source of vitamin C.
Fruits with the highest amounts of vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits (such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes)
- kiwi fruit
- strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries
Vegetables that include vitamin C are:
- cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower)
- bell peppers (all colors)
- green leafy vegetables
- sweet and white potatoes
- winter squash
When Should You Consider Supplements?
It is widely recommended that you take 75 mg of vitamin C per day if you are a woman and 90 mg per day for men on the super low end. Most supplement companies sell it at 1000mg or 500mg nowadays.
However, these numbers are extremely poor for good health since it does not target optimal health but only the minimum amount your body should consume.
Here are some questions to consider:
- How much raw produce do you eat every day?
- Do you smoke? Smokers need more vitamin C.
- Are you stressed a lot? Stress increases your need for vitamin C.
Your body uses vitamin C to suppress formation of the stress hormone Cortisol. There is a lot of debate over the best type of vitamin C to take as a supplement but Ascorbic acid seems to be the most potent form with a reasonable therapeutic daily dose being 1000 mg.
Unlike most vitamins, vitamin D is mainly obtained by us from the sun itself and not from the food we eat. It is created when our body is exposed to the sunlight. Vitamin D has been found to be protective against cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and even osteoporosis.
A long lasting and healthy brain
Vitamin D has profound effects on the brain during all stages of life. Continuing to get adequate vitamin D throughout adult life can ward off cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. In addition, vitamin D can lift your mood, improve memory, and increase problem-solving ability. Inadequate levels contribute to the depression many people feel in the winter.
Getting all your vitamin D from food is impossible
There are only few foods that contain vitamin D3, the best utilized form and the best food source by far is cod liver oil or fish oil with salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines trailing far behind.
This means that most of the vitamin D needs to be gotten from either sunlight or from supplements if you live in a cold place that rarely gets much sun.
Here are some tips to bear in mind regarding vitamin D:
- If you wear sunscreen, you won’t manufacture much, if any, vitamin D.
- If you live in the US, draw a line from San Francisco to Richmond.
- If you live north of this line, the sun’s rays are too weak to trigger vitamin D production except during the summer.
- According to Cancer Council Australia it’s only when the UV index is greater than 3 that the needed UVB wavelengths are present in sufficient amounts to produce vitamin D.
- Light-skinned people from very northern areas evolved to utilize sunshine more efficiently.
If you have dark skin, you will need even more sun exposure to keep your vitamin D levels up.
Vitamin D Supplements are a necessity
Most people in North America and Europe need to take supplemental vitamin D because the climate isn’t entirely dependable. When choosing one, however, be sure to buy from a reputable company you can trust.
You can see your doctor or purchase a vitamin D test online.
Vitamin B – Complex Vitamins
B vitamins are generally called the “happy vitamins” or “anti-stress vitamins” because they can improve energy levels and increase your tolerance to stress. The B vitamins can ward off brain aging, reduce depression, and can even help you live longer.
An important role of B vitamins for brain health is in the production of the neurotransmitters Serotonin, Dopamine, and GABA.
Imbalances of these important brain chemicals can wreak havoc with your state of mind.
If you don’t have enough Serotonin, you may suffer from anxiety, insomnia, low self-esteem, negative thoughts, OCD, and seasonal affective disorder.
Without adequate GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), you may find yourself easily stressed, over stimulated and overwhelmed.
Dopamine helps you stay focused and attentive.
Taking B vitamins can vastly improve your neurotransmitter balance and your mental well-being.
B Vitamins Which Prevent Mental Decline?
All the B complex vitamins are vital for your overall health but three of them — B6, B12, and folic acid (B9) — are simply critical for brain health. These vitamins work together to prevent mental decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease by reducing levels of homocysteine, a toxic amino acid that’s a natural byproduct of digestion.
B-12 Vitamin Deficiency
If your memory is rather poor or you feel like you are constantly experiencing brain fog, you may or may not have a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Two high risk groups for said deficiency are seniors, who often have poor absorption, and vegetarians. Animal foods are the only dependable sources of vitamin B12 and as a result, over 90% of vegans are B12 deficient.
Lack of vitamin B 12 can lead to a wide spectrum of mental disorders including dementia, depression, and even schizophrenia and can ultimately cause brain atrophy and shrinkage.
If you have begun to get worried, vitamin B12 supplements can bring your levels back to normal quickly so you can rest easy!
What are Vitamin B: Food Sources?
Folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables, legumes, fruit, eggs, and organ meats. However, the best food sources of vitamin B6 are fish, poultry, bananas, carrots, spinach, peas, and potatoes while Vitamin B12 can be found in all animal products including meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
When Should You Consider Supplements?
The B complex vitamins are more commonly known as the anti-stress vitamins so supplements for these can be taken to relax your mind. If you are a senior or a vegetarian, or you have any doubt that you might have a vitamin B12 deficiency, a B12 supplement can readily address the problem.
It is recommended that you take all the B vitamins together in a balanced B complex formula.
What Should You Do Now?
Start by taking a high-quality multivitamin which itself can improve brain function and memory.
We recommend you do your homework on various kinds of supplement brands and study their labels before you reach for your wallets. There are a lot of vitamins for the brain that will help energize and strengthen your brain and taking supplements for these easily provide nutrition to your brain without you having to worry about any deficiencies. You can consider a ‘brain multivitamin (all in one)’ called MaxSynapse or Lumonol as well.