With regard to memory, certain vitamins are extremely important and even mild deficiencies can cause symptoms such as forgetfulness and lack of concentration. Even those who attempt to follow a healthy diet may find that other factors sabotage their vitamin absorption, and these include the use of caffeine, tobacco or alcohol, as well as stress, environmental factors, and digestive issues. Below are three of the most important vitamins for a healthy memory and why it may be wise to invest in supplements:
- Vitamin-C: The Superstar Nutrient
- Why Protection from Excess Glutamate is Vital to Brain Health
- Brain Health and Vitamin-D
- The Vitamin-B and Brain
- 1. Different types of Vitamin-B:
- 2. The importance of Vitamin-B for Brain
- 3. Foods high in Vitamin-B
- 4. Foods High in B12
- 5. Foods high in B6
- 6. Foods High in Folate
- 7. Foods high in Niacin
- 8. Foods high in Riboflavin
- 9. Foods high in Thiamine
- Choosing the Best B-Complex Supplement
Vitamin-C: The Superstar Nutrient
Vitamin C is an all-time favorite of consumers and a superstar of vitamins. Indeed, it offers an impressive number of benefits to the human body, such as reducing the symptoms of the common cold, lessening the effect of allergies, and possibly preventing both cancer and heart disease. However, the importance of vitamin C regarding memory comes as a surprise to many individuals.
1. How Vitamin-C helps Neurotransmitter Production
In a properly functioning brain, over 100 billion neurons continuously communicate with each other on a regular basis. However, if their production has slowed even a little, it negatively impacts a person’s ability to remember, concentrate and focus. Vitamin C is critically important with regard to the production of neurotransmitters and even a slight deficit can result in memory and concentration problems.
2. How Vitamin-C Boosts Intelligence and Memory
In the best-selling book “Miracle Brain,” by author Jean Carper, the many benefits of vitamin C are looked at in detail. The book outlines how those with the highest blood levels of this vitamin received better scores on memory tests and in some cases had higher IQ scores than those whose vitamin C levels were at the lower end of the range.
3. How Vitamin-C Protect Against the Free Radical Damage
Because of the brain’s high use of oxygen, it is especially susceptible to free radical damage. To give a simple example of how this works, one can cut apart an apple to watch how it begins to turn brown when it is exposed to oxygen. However, when the apple is dipped in lemon juice, this discoloration does not take place. This is because the high levels of vitamin C in the lemon juice protect the apple from the effects of oxygen exposure. Fortunately, taking enough vitamin C has the same effect on the human brain as the lemon juice has on the apple.
4. How Vitamin-C Lowers the Risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
A large study published in Psychology Today confirmed that the average person’s risk of developing memory loss, old-age dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease plummets by 60 percent when high vitamin C levels are maintained throughout life.
5. Vitamin-C Improve Blood Circulation
The substance referred to as collagen plays a vital role in keeping the arteries to the brain flexible and functioning at top capacity. Vitamin C helps boost collagen production, and subsequently increases the brain’s blood flow on a daily basis. This increase in blood circulation to the brain ultimately improves memory, sometimes as much as 50 percent.
6. How Vitamin-C help Brain Detoxification
Heavy metals accumulate in the brain throughout life, and because of food additives, toxins in drinking water and environmental factors, there is little or nothing one can do to prevent this from occurring. Even heavy metals such as mercury reach various systems of the human body from substances such as amalgam, which is the material used to make certain types of dental fillings. Other heavy metals such as aluminum are believed to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. Because aluminum easily leaches into one’s system from certain sunscreens, deodorants, and aluminum cookware, it is almost impossible to avoid it altogether. Fortunately, vitamin C acts as a potent detoxification agent that easily crosses the blood-brain barrier to remove these substances from the brain.
Why Protection from Excess Glutamate is Vital to Brain Health
It is now a proven fact that the naturally occurring chemical, glutamate, exists in the human brain. However, as with many substances, if too much glutamate is found in the brain it can result in a significant number of problems including the following:
- Memory loss
- Inability to focus
- Adult Attention Deficit Disorder
- Cell Death
This is because, at too high a level, this substance acts as an excitotoxin, the latter of which refers to toxins that literally stimulate brain cells to death. Vitamin C creates a barrier at the neuro-receptor level, which essentially puts the brakes on the release of glutamate.
The Most Efficient Food Sources of Vitamin-C Include the Following:
- Citrus fruitsTomatoes
- Green leafy vegetables
- All types of berries
- Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower
- Winter squash
- Sweet or white potatoes
- Bell peppers
Although vitamin C is found in a variety of foods, it is still in the best interest of certain individuals to take supplements containing this vitamin. Which vitamin C supplement is best is a topic surrounded by a certain amount of debate, but most experts recommend taking C as ascorbic acid, as this appears to be the most potent form of the vitamin. Finally, vitamin C is water soluble, meaning it can be taken by itself and should be properly absorbed unless an underlying condition exists. It does not store up in the body, but rather excess amounts that are not needed are excreted in urine.
Brain Health and Vitamin-D
It seems as if every day new discoveries are being made about vitamin D and its effect on the human body and mind. Vitamin D is a phrase that technically refers to the two parts of the vitamin, which are D2 and D3. Both are essential to brain health, but vitamin D3 is important to more physical and mental functions than D2.
There is irrefutable evidence linking low levels of vitamin D3 to an entire host of problems, from depression to multiple sclerosis and diabetes. Vitamin D is a complex nutrient and can help protect one from these disorders, as well as from osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.
1. Vitamin-D and Long-Term Brain Health
In addition to numerous benefits to the human body, vitamin D also has a profound effect on the brain from the cradle to the grave. This is large because it plays a vital role in delaying cellular aging in the brain. When cells are young and healthy, they function more efficiently, and therefore memory, cognitive function, and critical thinking skills are preserved.
Because of the cellular protection it offers, it is almost certain that those suffering from long-term D3 deficiencies will develop one or more of the following: depression, memory loss, Parkinson’s disease, general cognitive decline, and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
2. The Link Between Vitamin-D and Memory
Two European studies were recently conducted at the University of Cambridge on the link between vitamin D and memory. The initial study was led by a neuroscientist, David Llewellyn, who assessed over 1700 men and women age 65 or older for vitamin D deficiency. The subjects were divided into four groups based on the level of vitamin D in their blood. These groups were:
- Insufficient–also called borderline
- Severely deficient
Researchers discovered that those with the lowest levels of vitamin D had the poorest performance during a broad range of mental tests, including memory quizzes and exercises. In addition, the category of severely deficient individuals was more than twice as likely to experience memory loss and mild cognitive impairment by as young as 50 years of age.
A new neurological study led by Doctor David Perlmutter and Doctor Thomas J. Littlejohn examined 653 participants who were given either a vitamin D3 supplement or a placebo. Findings confirmed that vitamin D deficiency was linked to a significantly increased risk of developing memory loss and loss of critical thinking skills.
3. The Role of the Sun in Vitamin D for Brain
Dissimilar to other vitamins, it can be somewhat difficult to acquire vitamin D from diet alone. This is due, in part, to the fact that vitamin D is created when a person’s skin is exposed to sunlight. This fact puts vitamin D in a class by itself, and therefore must be looked at differently from other vitamins.
Despite the fact that the importance of vitamin D has reached the general public, there is still an estimated 77 percent of the population who do not get enough of this valuable vitamin. There are many reasons for this phenomenon and according to certain scientists, these reasons include the fact that the sun has been touted as a horrible enemy to human health for decades.
In fact, a long-term study completed by Mercola in 2011 indicated that deadly melanoma actually has little or nothing to do with the sun, and indeed more researchers are coming to the forefront to agree with these findings. While it is true that sunburnt skin is more susceptible to melanoma later in life, many researchers are now walking back their statements that even a short amount of time in the sun on a daily basis is virtually guaranteed to cause melanoma.
It makes sense that what some scientists now refer to as “sun hysteria” may be part of the problem with regard to the vitamin D deficiency epidemic: if the sun’s rays are a catalyst in the production of this vitamin and one is never exposed to natural sunlight, it stands to reason that a deficiency will occur.
4. Foods high in Vitamin-D
Although sunshine is abundant in many areas of the world, those who live in regions where long winter seasons are commonplace or who simply cannot spend time in the sun for various reasons do not benefit from this optimal way of obtaining crucial vitamin D.
Fortunately, making dietary changes can help some individuals. There is some difference of opinion among researchers concerning whether not enough vitamin D can be efficiently absorbed from food, but the foods with the highest levels of D include the following:
- Beef liver
- Soy milk and fortified dairy products
Certain foods contain vitamin D2, such as mushrooms or fortified milk, but this form of D is not well utilized, nor does it offer the benefits associated with D3.
5. How to take Vitamin-D
Ultimately, supplemental vitamin D is necessary for most people who live in the upper half of the North American continent, northern Europe, and other regions that experience long winters or that have a minimal number of sunny days throughout the year. However, those who add vitamin D supplements to their diet must understand that D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it will not be absorbed if taken only with water or with fat-free foods. Additionally, extra D is not excreted, but rather is stored in the liver, and therefore it is important not to use it to excess.
The Vitamin-B and Brain
A group of vitamins known as “B Complex” has been called by a variety of names, including “stress vitamins,” “brain supplements,” and “antidepressant vitamins.” This is because they are known to increase a person’s tolerance to stress, improve energy levels and result in a healthier frame of mind. In addition, vitamin B12, specifically, is critical to proper iron absorption, and various types of vitamin B may also support a healthy metabolism. However, the role of B complex in brain health cannot be overstated.
1. Different types of Vitamin-B:
- B 12
- Pantothenic acid
2. The importance of Vitamin-B for Brain
The reason B vitamins are important regarding brain health is that of the way they boost the production of specific neurotransmitters such as GABA, dopamine, and serotonin. Those whose brains have improper balances of these neurotransmitters often develop a troubling array of symptoms. These may include obsessive-compulsive disorder, negative thoughts, insomnia, anxiety, and as one might suspect, depression.
Oxford University Studies B Vitamins and Memory
Although all B vitamins are essential with regard to brain health, B6, B12, and folic acid are particularly important to memory and cognitive function. A recent Oxford University study found that taking folic acid, B12 and B6 together improved brain function, reduced brain atrophy, and considerably reduced shrinkage in the region of the brain where most cases of Alzheimer’s disease begin.
The Homocysteine Link
Additional findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine that prove adequate levels of the complex reduce the presence of homocysteine in the bloodstream. Homocysteine is an amino acid and a natural byproduct of digestion, but when levels are too high, it can double a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease and generalized memory loss. B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, work by reducing high homocysteine levels.
B Vitamins are Essential to the Effective Handling of Stress
There is a reason the B complex vitamins are often referred to as “stress vitamins.” This is because they can replenish what is depleted by stress on a daily basis. They do this by boosting red blood cell production, which is necessary for a healthy nervous system. Those whose nervous systems are overtaxed often find themselves in a constant state of forgetfulness so it is easy to see the link between the need for this vitamin B and a healthy memory.
B12 Deficiency is Surprisingly Common
B12 deficiency is not all that uncommon. Those who are experiencing poor memory, frequent memory lapses, or feel as if they are in a constant state of brain fog may very well have a deficiency of vitamin B12. If this deficiency is left untreated for a substantial length of time, a broad range of mental disorders can eventually manifest, such as depression, dementia, severe memory loss and even measurable brain atrophy.
3. Foods high in Vitamin-B
- Whole grains
4. Foods High in B12
- Soy products
- Fortified cereals
- Green leafy vegetables
5. Foods high in B6
- Fortified cereals
6. Foods High in Folate
• Green leafy vegetables
• All grain products
7. Foods high in Niacin
- Whole Wheat
8. Foods high in Riboflavin
- Green leafy vegetables
9. Foods high in Thiamine
- Whole-grain cereals
- Green peas
- Wheat germ
- Leafy green vegetables
Choosing the Best B-Complex Supplement
The best quality forms of vitamin B12 are adenosylcobalamin and are methylcobalamin, according to most experts. Therefore, it is wise to find a B complex supplement that features B12 in one of these forms.
Additionally, almost all health care practitioners recommend taking all the B vitamins together in a B complex formula that is well-balanced. This is because taking more of some and less of others can ultimately lead to an imbalance among all the B vitamins in one’s system. Anyone who suspects he or she has a vitamin deficiency of any kind should contact a healthcare practitioner for evaluation.