We are a health-aware generation who has been enlightened by scientists with the knowledge good nutrition supports a healthy body. Recently, the scientific community has been interested in shedding light on how better nutrition can benefit and support brain health, too. The human brain is one of the most complex organs in your body and scientists have only just begun to scratch the surface of the best nutritional ways to support brain and cognitive function.
Taking Nutritional Support Straight to the Brain
The years of research have been anything but fruitless. Many studies point to evidence that supplementation can also support brain health and cognitive function. Dr. Perry Renshaw, professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Director of the Magnetic Resonance Laboratory at the Brain Institute at the University of Utah, explains, "accumulating evidence suggests that not only better overall nutrition, but also supplementation with several key nutrients may help stave off the reduced efficiency of brain cells that occurs with aging." To help you get started, we've listed some of these foods and nutrients below.
The B Vitamins
The B vitamins are an excellent source of nutrients to support brain health and overall health. Thiamin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 have all shown promise in supporting brain health. In fact, particular levels of these vitamins are paramount for the efficient metabolism of glucose, the brain's primary fuel, which is why you require daily supplementation of these vitamins.
Antioxidants are another key source to help maintain brain vitality and cognitive function. They help protect the body from free radicals that attack healthy cells and are said to help reduce levels of oxidative stress. Vitamins E and C, and compounds such as alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, Ginkgo biloba, and fruit polyphenols have also been studied for their potential benefits to brain health.
At first glance this seems like a contradictive statement. Nevertheless, many studies have shown that healthy fatty acids not only promote heart health, but brain health as well. Healthy fatty acids can come from vegetable sources such as corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, and peanuts, as well as from certain fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and herring. Olive oil and many different types of tree nuts are also sources of "good" fats. If these foods sound familiar it is because they are staples of the popular "Mediterranean diet" which is said to be one of the most effective diets to support cognitive health. As knowledge of the human mind and its functions expands, hopefully so will the importance that people place on supporting their brains as well as their bodies. Understanding the necessity of good nutrition for overall health is paramount. A healthy diet, regular physical and mental activity, and supplementation of key nutrients will help keep you on the path of healthy aging so you can focus your mind on living and enjoying life.
- Rutberg S. Supps better than sudoku for aging brain? Newhope360. https://newhope360.com/breaking-news/supps-better-sudoku-aging-brain?cid=nl_npi_daily
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. National Academy Press, Washington, DC; 1998.
- Behl C. Oxidative stress in Alzheimer's disease: implications for prevention and therapy. Subcell Biochem. 2005;38:65-78
- Panza F et al. Mediterranean diet and cognitive decline. Public Health Nutr. 2004;7(7):959-63.