There are a number of vitamins that work on arguably the most important organ in your entire body: the brain. These are called Brain Vitamins. Age and stress can cause mental deterioration, but you don’t have to sit by and feel powerless as your memory and cognition start to decline.
You may be wondering how to improve your memory, or how to guard against brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Maybe you simply want to stay sharp, alert, focused and happy with every passing year.
Here’s the great news: You can take an active approach to longevity and cognitive health by supplementing with substances your brain desperately needs.
Here are six important brain vitamins to kick start your cognitive health:
Of all the important brain vitamins, the one you probably haven’t heard of is one of the most critical. NADH — nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) + hydrogen (H) — is a naturally occurring compound found in all living organisms. It both elevates your energy level and increases your brain power. It can also help guard against memory loss.
NADH produces energy, which is physically stored in your cells in the form of a chemical called ATP. With increased cellular ATP levels, your cells can function well and better feed your brain. NADH also plays a key role in creating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These “brain chemicals” are important for mood and memory.
NADH supplementation has been used to help with health problems such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and depression, according to the University Of Michigan. Unfortunately, as you age the levels of NADH in your body typically decline. Most of the NADH we take in from food is destroyed, which is why many supplement with NADH to improve brain health and function.
Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that can combat the damaging effects of free radicals, which can cause mental decline. Vitamin A helps stimulate the production of ATP, the source of energy so vital to human health and life.
In animal studies, Vitamin A supplementation improved learning and memory and helped combat the normal cognitive declines associated with aging.
Vitamin B6 plays a critical role in metabolism and also supports a healthy heart, brain and nervous system. This B vitamin is needed for normal brain function and development, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The center says that Vitamin B6 helps the body make “mood” hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, and also melatonin, which regulates your internal clock. Vitamin B6 deficiencies can lead to depression, nervousness, irritability, short-term memory loss, and difficulty concentrating.
Biotin (Vitamin B7)
Biotin helps make beautiful hair, skin and nails, and is thought to play a role in giving people a young and attractive appearance. Like other members of the B vitamin family, it helps converts food into fuel and is needed for healthy metabolism and digestion.
Deficiencies in B7 can cause a host of cognitive problems, ranging from developmental delays to sensory and motor deficits. In adults, these deficiencies can include “lethargy, hallucinations, and numbness and tingling of the extremities,” says Oregon State University.
Folic Acid (folate)
Folic acid is something of a wonder vitamin. It’s so important that it’s routinely given to expecting mothers to prevent birth defects. In fact, all women of childbearing age are encouraged to supplement with 400 micrograms daily, according to the March of Dimes.
Folic acid helps with tissue growth and cellular function, says the National Institutes of Health. It can also help lower blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which can wreak havoc on brain cells. Getting enough folate (or folic acid) in your diet can help you feel more invigorated and alert.
The elderly are at special risk for Vitamin B12 deficiencies, according to the Mayo Clinic. These deficiencies can have a huge impact on neurological health at any stage of life. For example, Vitamin B12 deficiencies in early life can cause impaired brain function and cognitive development.
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in helping your body convert fuel into food. Not only does it help with cell formation, it also forms a protective shield around nerve cells for optimal brain health.
Although each brain vitamin listed above is important for brain health, they may work better when taken together. For example, supplementation with a combination of Vitamin B6, B12 and folate (folic acid) may slow the atrophy of specific brain regions associated with cognitive decline, according to an Oxford University study.