Did you know that your brain is only about 3% of your body weight, but it uses up to 17% of your energy? In order for the brain to function properly, it needs specific nutrients, making the food we eat vital to brain function. What types of nutrients do we need to help our brains function? Read this list to learn more about what the brain needs!
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids - To promote and enhance your intellectual performance, omega-3’s are needed in your diet! Consuming omega-3’s helps with general thinking and thought processing, but also assists with remembering and learning. If you struggle with ADHD, studies have shown that Omega-3’s help reduce symptoms. Additionally, other research suggests they may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, as they have a positive effect on memory. It is worth noting that the American diet is generally very high in Omega 6’s and low in Omega-3’s. Omega-3s are most often found in fish, but can also be found in walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
- B Vitamins - Mood and mental performance is heavily influenced by your intake of B vitamins. This is another nutrient noted to lower the odds of developing dementia because it assists memory ability. Vitamin B also helps to reduce anxiety, depression, stress, migraines, PMS symptoms, and the risk of heart disease. Plus, it boosts your energy levels! In the United States today, many people have vitamin B deficiency and often are not aware. There are a variety of different B vitamins and can be found in many different foods. For example, folate (B9) can be found in greens such as kale and spinach, and choline, which has been linked to brain development, can be found in broccoli and cauliflower.
- Vitamin K - Cognitive function and brain power are dependent on Vitamin K for optimal performance. Vitamin K has often been called “the forgotten vitamin” as it is often forgotten or overlooked in terms of importance for other body functions including blood clotting, preventing heart disease, and building strong bones. Vitamin K deficiency often contributes to bruising easily. Vitamin K can be found in broccoli, leafy greens like spinach and collard greens, basil, and even chili powder!
- Vitamin E - Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that can prevent or decelerate cognitive decline and boost memory as the brain ages. Additionally, vitamin E is necessary for healthy eyes and skin because it protects the cells from damage. Although vitamin E deficiencies are considered rare, those who do have this deficiency often are more likely to suffer from other diseases and may have digestive problems as well. Nuts, seeds, avocado, and tofu are excellent sources of vitamin E as well as green, leafy vegetables.
- Lycopene - Another significant antioxidant that is known to protect against dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease, is lycopene. Studies have indicated that lycopene also can be used in the treatment of prostate cancer and can prevent breast cancer. Other benefits include keeping blood vessels around the heart and neck healthy. Lycopene is a red carotene and carotenoid pigment, which is seen in red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelon, bell peppers, and red carrots.
- Zinc - The consumption of zinc is vital for enhancing memory and thinking ability. Plus, zinc also plays a large role in strengthening the immune system and cell growth. Zinc has also been linked to improving fertility and vision. Zinc deficiencies may require supplementation, however, too much zinc can actually weaken the immune system and cause fatigue. Of course, finding the right balance is always key for any food or nutrient you eat. A handful of pumpkin seeds counts as a daily dose of zinc, but it can also be found in dark chocolate, potatoes, lamb, and seafood.
Nutrition is essential for healthy brain function! To learn more about how to improve your brain function in areas such as memory, attention, focus, and sleep while also eliminating symptoms of anxiety and depression, schedule a free consultation with our director Dr. Jolene Ross.