Nourishing Your Noggin
The top 5 vitamins and minerals to boost your brainpower
Filling Up on Folate
Folic acid or folate is another important B vitamin for the brain, says
Sahelian. "Getting adequate folate can make one a little more alert, and
improve memory and focus." It helps lower blood levels of the amino acid
homocysteine that is known to damage brain cells, he explains. It's found in
abundant supply in many foods including beans, fruits, green leafy vegetables,
lentils, and whole-wheat cereals. Shoot for 400 micrograms a day, he says.
Stirring Up Serotonin With B6
Vitamin B6 helps convert 5-hydroxy-tryptophan (5HTP) in into the mood
chemical serotonin and it also helps in making dopamine. "These are big
mood and alertness chemicals," he says. Aim for roughly 2 to 10 milligrams
a day if you supplement. B6-rich foods include bell peppers, cranberries,
turnip greens, cauliflower, garlic, tuna, mustard greens, and kale.
Magnesium is an important brain nutrient because it protects the brain from
neurotoxins," says City Island, N.Y.-based Carolyn Dean, ND, MD, author of
The Miracle of Magnesium. "Some enlightened surgeons give extra
magnesium to their patients before and during surgery, especially brain
surgery, for this reason," she tells WebMD. The dosage for protecting the
brain in general is 300 milligrams one to three times a day. According to Dean,
nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, and whole grains have magnesium, but most other
foods have little, she says. "Cooked and processed foods also lose a lot of
magnesium making it a very deficient mineral."
Seeing to More C
"Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that can intercept free radicals
before they affect the brain," says Dean, also the health advisor to
yeastconnection.com. It's found in foods such as broccoli, legumes, oranges,
potatoes, and strawberries. If you are taking supplements, aim for 500
micrograms once or twice a day, she says. Researchers from Johns Hopkins
University found that people taking vitamins C and E were 78% less likely to
have had a diagnosis of Alzheimer's at the study's start and 64% less likely to
have developed the disease four years after the study began.
Of course, before taking any supplements talk to your doctor first, many may
interfere with the absorption of medications you may be taking or may cause
bothersome side effects.