Which Vitamins and Minerals Support Optimal Brain Health?
For weighing only about three pounds, the human brain is a remarkable organ.
Considered the most complex structure in the human body, the brain governs every function of your body, from your thoughts, memories, movement, and speech to your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.
In fact, when you consider just how much the brain does each day to keep your body healthy and in balance, you start to realize how important it is to take good care of it—and one of the best ways to show your brain a little TLC is by giving it the nutrients it needs to function at its peak.
Because most Americans aren’t getting the essential vitamins and minerals they need from the food they eat, many people look to multivitamin supplements to help fill in the gaps.
Below is a list of important vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy brain.
- B vitamins
B12, B6, and B9 (folate/folic acid), along with other important B vitamins, support healthy brain function. B vitamins are also necessary for the synthesis of neurotransmitters—chemical messengers that deliver signals from the brain to other parts of the body.
- Vitamins C, D, and E
Vitamins C and E provide antioxidant support. Vitamin C plays a role in the synthesis of some neurotransmitters. Vitamin E plays a role in cell signaling. Likewise, vitamin D has been shown to play a role in brain development and function.
- Vitamin K
Vitamin K is involved in the synthesis of sphingolipids, which are structural components of brain. In addition, vitamin K is involved in the activation of special proteins involved in brain cell metabolism.
Choline plays important roles in the body, including cell membrane signaling and early brain development. Choline is also necessary to produce acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for memory, mood, muscle control, and other brain and nervous system functions.
Magnesium is a critically important mineral for hundreds of processes throughout the body. Along with maintaining healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system, magnesium also assists with neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to adapt and change when presented with new information and experiences.
Zinc plays a role in regulating communication between neurons (brain cells), which in turn may affect how we learn new things and create and store memories. Zinc is also an important nutrient in brain and nervous system development.
Studies have uncovered a link between selenium and healthy brain function. Because of its natural antioxidant properties, selenium protects healthy brain cells from oxidative stress.
What are some other ways to keep your brain healthy?
In addition to following a healthy diet and making sure your brain gets the important vitamins and minerals it needs, experts also recommend exercising regularly to support healthy brain function, keeping your mind sharp with puzzles and games, managing everyday stress, getting plenty of sleep at night, and avoiding excessive alcohol and tobacco use.
Many of us are thinking about our 2020 health goals and what it means to take care of our bodies. Remember to save room on your resolutions list for one or all of these positive brain health habits.