The 4 Top Brain Nutrients for Overall Health

A young lady smiles while holding a half-cut avocado, identifed as a source of Folate, one of the top brain nutrients listed by SANESolution.

Choosing the most beneficial nutrients for brain health  is not always easy. It can take some time and research to find nutrients that address your needs. We’ve found that the most beneficial nutrients are those that boost brain function while also supporting your overall health. Here are 4 nutrients that fit that criteria.

4 Brain Nutrients for Boosting Your Memory and Improving Your Overall Health

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of essential fat the body cannot make on its own. This means you must get omega-3s through diet or supplementation.

Research has shown that EPA and DHA, two types of omega-3s, are abundant in brain cells. Studies show that EPA may relieve depression and other mood disorders. And DHA may alleviate neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. 1  In animal studies, researchers discovered a link between levels of DHA in the brain and the capacity for learning and memory. 2

Omega-3 fatty acids are also among the top brain nutrients for overall health because they have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, reduce blood pressure, and fight inflammation and autoimmune diseases. 3

Food sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
  • Chia Seeds
  • Kale
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Spinach
  • Walnuts

Folate

Folate (vitamin B-9) is not only essential for proper brain function, but it also supports overall health.

You’ve probably heard that folate is good for fetal brain development. But it’s also necessary for brain health throughout life. A deficiency of folate has also been linked to cognitive decline, depression, and epilepsy. And folic acid supplementation has been shown to improve cognitive function. 4

Beyond brain health, folate has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, slow the aging process by reducing oxidative stress on the body, and reduce the risk of certain diseases.

Food sources of folate include:
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Avocado
  • Celery
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a chemical found in the mitochondria of every cell in your body. It is created by the body and obtained from food sources.

CoQ10 has been shown to support brain health. It is especially effective at mediating neurodegenerative diseases. A study published in the Archives of Neurology, for instance,  found that CoQ10 supplementation slowed brain deterioration in Parkinson’s disease. 5

And its effects don’t stop with the brain. Research shows CoQ10 may decrease risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation throughout the body, and relieve migraine headaches.

Food sources of CoQ10 include:
  • Broccoli
  • Chicken
  • Liver
  • Salmon
  • Seafood
  • Spinach

Citicoline

Citicoline is a naturally occurring brain chemical shown to improve cognitive function in clinical research studies. It has been found to improve communication between brain cells, which is why it may be beneficial for dementia. In fact, a study published in Methods and Findings in Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology found that 1,000 mg of citicoline per day may improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients. 6

Food sources of citicoline are organ meats, such as animal brains and liver.

DID YOU KNOW…

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SOURCES

1 – Avallone R, Vitale G, Bertolotti M. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Neurodegenerative Diseases: New Evidence in Clinical Trials. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(17):4256. Published 2019 Aug 30. doi:10.3390/ijms20174256

2 – Kuratko CN, Barrett EC, Nelson EB, Salem N Jr. The relationship of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) with learning and behavior in healthy children: a review. Nutrients. 2013;5(7):2777-2810. Published 2013 Jul 19. doi:10.3390/nu5072777

3 – The Cleveland Clinic. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids.” Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/02/2019

4 – Ma F, Wu T, Zhao J, et al. Folic acid supplementation improves cognitive function by reducing the levels of peripheral inflammatory cytokines in elderly Chinese subjects with MCI. Sci Rep. 2016;6:37486. Published 2016 Nov 23. doi:10.1038/srep37486

5 – Shults CW, Oakes D, Kieburtz K, et al. Effects of coenzyme Q10 in early Parkinson disease: evidence of slowing of the functional decline. Arch Neurol. 2002;59(10):1541-1550. doi:10.1001/archneur.59.10.1541

6 – Alvarez XA, Mouzo R, Pichel V, et al. Double-blind placebo-controlled study with citicoline in APOE genotyped Alzheimer’s disease patients. Effects on cognitive performance, brain bioelectrical activity and cerebral perfusion. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 1999;21(9):633-644.