Brain Boosting Vitamins Found in These Foods
It makes sense to eat what your body can best utilize, and minimize foods that actually interfere or deter your brain from functioning maximally.
There’s been LOTS of information published that tell us that staying hydrated; sipping green tea; taking Omega-3 supplements or eating fatty fish; and eating dark chocolate and nuts (in moderation) have been shown to boost and protect our brain’s health. But there are many other ‘easy to access’ foods that will give your brain (and thus, your body) a boost and help your brain—and you-- to function at peak efficiency for your yoga practice.
Coffee. There are two main components in coffee — caffeine and antioxidants — which help to nourish your brain when taken in small/moderate quantities. The caffeine in coffee has a number of positive effects on the brain, including:
Increased alertness: Caffeine keeps your brain alert by blocking adenosine, a chemical messenger that makes you sleepy. One study found that when participants drank one large coffee in the morning or smaller amounts throughout the day, they were more effective at tasks that required concentration
Improved mood: Caffeine may also boost some of your "feel-good" neurotransmitters, such as serotonin.
Drinking coffee over the long term is also linked to a reduced risk of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, thanks to its antioxidants. So enjoy that morning or afternoon cup (or two) of java!
Turmeric. Turmeric has generated a lot of buzz in the past few years. This deep-yellow spice is a key ingredient in curry powder and has a number of benefits for the brain.
Curcumin. The active ingredient in turmeric. It’s been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit our brain cells. It's a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that has been linked to the following brain benefits:
May benefit memory: Curcumin may help improve memory in people with Alzheimer's. It may also help clear the plaque that forms, which is a hallmark of this disease.
Lightens depression: Turmeric boosts serotonin and dopamine, which both improve mood. One study found curcumin improved depression symptoms just as much as an antidepressant over six weeks.
Helps new brain cells grow: Curcumin boosts brain-derived neurotropic factor, a type of growth hormone that helps brain cells grow. It may help delay age-related mental decline, but more research is needed.
To reap the benefits of curcumin, try cooking with curry powder, adding turmeric to potato or pasta dishes, or brew some turmeric tea.
Broccoli. Broccoli is packed with powerful plant compounds, including lots of antioxidants. It's also very high in vitamin K, delivering more than 100% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) in a 1-cup serving. This vitamin is essential for forming sphingolipids, a type of fat that's densely packed into brain cells. A few studies in older adults have linked a higher vitamin K intake to better memory.
Beyond vitamin K, broccoli contains a number of compounds that give it anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which may help protect the brain against damage.
Pumpkin Seeds. Pumpkin seeds contain powerful antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free radical damage. They're also an excellent source of magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. Each of these nutrients is important for brain health:
Zinc. This element is crucial for nerve health. Zinc deficiency has been linked to many neurological conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, depression and Parkinson's disease.
Magnesium. Magnesium is essential for learning and memory. Low magnesium levels are linked to many neurological diseases, including migraines, depression and epilepsy.
Copper. Our brains use copper to help control nerve signals. When copper levels are out of whack, there's a higher risk of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's.
Oranges. You can get all the vitamin C you need in a day by eating one medium orange! You can also get excellent amounts of vitamin C from bell peppers, guava, kiwi, tomatoes and strawberries. Doing so is important for brain health, since vitamin C is a key factor in preventing mental decline.
Eating sufficient amounts of vitamin C-rich foods can protect against age-related mental decline and Alzheimer's disease. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off the free radicals that can damage brain cells. Plus, vitamin C supports brain health as you age.
Eggs. Eggs are a good source of several nutrients tied to brain health, including vitamins B6 and B12, folate and choline. Choline is an important nutrient that your body uses to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory.
Studies have found that higher intakes of choline were linked to better memory and mental function. Eating eggs is an easy way to get choline, given that egg yolks are among the most concentrated sources of this nutrient. Just a single egg yolk containing 112 mg. Adequate intake of choline is 425 - 550 mg per day.
The B vitamins found in eggs offer excellent boosts in brain health. They may help slow the progression of mental decline as we age. Deficiencies in two types of B vitamins — folate and B12 — has been linked to depression. Folate deficiency is common in elderly people with dementia, and studies show that folic acid supplements can help minimize age-related mental decline. B12 is also involved in synthesizing brain chemicals and regulating sugar levels in the brain.
There’s very little direct research on the link between eating eggs and brain health. However, there is research to support the brain-boosting benefits of the nutrients found in eggs.
Many foods can help keep your brain healthy. Some foods, such as broccoli & oranges as well as tea and coffee, have antioxidants that help protect your brain from damage. Others, such as nuts and eggs, contain nutrients that support memory and brain development.
You can help support your brain health and boost your alertness, memory and mood by strategically including these foods in your diet. Yes, take your regular multivitamin (or mix of vitamins), but add these foods to your diet to boost your brain function and ensure that your body is functioning at maximum levels!