Supporting brain health is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But what can you do to support optimal brain health in your daily routine? Including foods rich in brain-supporting nutrients or adding in supplements packed with these important vitamins and minerals is the best way to support brain health. When it comes to choosing the top nutrients for brain health, check out the guide below for the top 5 nutrients for brain health you should include in your daily routine.
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There are two important types of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA. These are both beneficial for the brain. EPA is important in regulating inflammation, and DHA helps maintain brain nerve function. Unfortunately, the body cannot make EPA and DHA on its own, so it must be obtained from our diets. The best animal sources to get this nutrient from are fatty fish such as tuna and salmon, and eggs. The best plant sources are avocados, chia and hemp seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds. These all contain healthy omega-3s that will help you maximize your omega-3 consumption.
2. Vitamin B12 and Folate
The B vitamins play an important role in mental performance and your mood. In particular, vitamin B12 can help improve cognition and vitamin B9, also known as folate, is vital in the creation and repairing of your DNA, creation of neurotransmitters, and the creation of the nervous system during pregnancy. You can find folate in dark green vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and avocado. It can also be found in other plant sources like chickpeas, beans and lentils and is found in fortified grains such as white flour, enriched pastas and cornmeal products. Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal proteins. These proteins include poultry, salmon, beef, or you can find fortified sources like nutritional yeast.
Including zinc in your diet is linked to enhanced memory and brain health. This nutrient is also well known for its immune-supporting abilities and has been shown to improve vision. However, lack of zinc has been shown to impair DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis during brain development.
This is why it is important to include zinc-rich foods such as seafood, chicken, eggs, or plant sources like pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and potatoes in the diet. You can also include a zinc supplement to ensure you are meeting your daily needs.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body. This nutrient is critical for the brain in terms of nerve impulse conduction, specifically in relaying signals between your brain and body. A few magnesium-rich food sources include green leafy vegetables such as spinach and swiss chard, black beans, nuts, seeds, and quinoa. Animal proteins rich in magnesium include halibut, mackerel, and salmon.
Calcium plays a critical role in the brain and body by helping conduct electrical signaling in the nervous system. This nutrient also aids in the release of neurotransmitters by neurons in the brain which is crucial for memory storage and memory retrieval. You can find calcium in many dairy and fortified non-dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheeses. Vegetables like broccoli and kale are also excellent sources of calcium along with almonds, pistachios, sesame seeds, and quinoa.
1. Pfeiffer, C. C., & Braverman, E. R. (1982). Zinc, the brain and behavior. Biological psychiatry, 17(4), 513–532.