The brain requires certain nutrients in order for it to stay healthy. Many people may not start to think about their brain health until they begin to see cognitive changes such as memory loss in later life. Eating a healthy diet is important for all areas of the body, not just the brain. But research has shown three particular vitamins and minerals the brain requires – vitamin B12, choline and lutein.
Vitamin B12 is vital for proper brain function according to Holland & Barrett.
It says: “A deficiency of B12 leaves your body vulnerable to the effects of stress and the deterioration associated with ageing.
“Vitamin B12 is often missing from the diets of vegetarians and vegans as its most commonly found in meat and fish, so it’s worth considering taking a supplement.”
Choline is not technically a vitamin, but it is often grouped together with the B vitamins. It is an essential nutrient, though, which means our bodies need it to function normally
There are many benefits of choline. We need choline to produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which helps with memory, mood and cognitive function, making it an essential brain food.
A large-scale American study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011, found that a higher choline intake was linked to better cognitive performance.
Lutein has long been celebrated for its protective benefits on your eyes.
But now, neuroscientists are exploring how lutein can be good for our brain too.
Research by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found the nutrient is able to accumulate in brain tissue where it fixes itself to cell membranes and plays a protective role.
In a 2017 study of adults aged 25-45, scientists found that older participants with higher levels of lutein in their diets had the same cognitive responses as younger volunteers when completing a task that tested their attention span
And according to a 2017 University of Georgia study, those who ate more lutein found memory-related tasks easier than those who ate less.
Lutein can also help your brain retain particular information. The University of Illinois study found that consuming high levels of lutein helped to preserve what is known as ‘crystallised intelligence’ – the ability to remember skills you have acquired over your lifetime.
Additionally, getting enough lutein in your daily diet can increase the speed at which your brain responds to something.
In a 2014 study published in the journal PLOS One, scientists discovered that people who took a daily lutein supplement were able to react to visual information – what they saw in front of them – faster than those who did not.