Just like any other organ, the brain requires a certain amount of nutrition to function properly. Eating nutritional meals packed with essential vitamins and minerals, as well as working out, have been shown to be two of the best things you can do for your brain. Of course, to optimize our brainpower and ensure that we are getting enough of those brain-healthy vitamins and minerals, many people will look to high-quality dietary supplements from trusted brands to fill in the gaps in their diets and exceed their normal brain function.
Luckily for those who are looking to kick their brain health into high gear, there are many vitamins for brain function and concentration available both through dieting and through dietary supplements. Whether you are looking to improve memory and attentiveness, prevent mental disorders like anxiety and depression, give your brain a jolt of energy, or improve your ability to concentrate on daily tasks, we are here to point you in the right direction for all of the top vitamins for the brain available to you.
List of Top Vitamins for Brain Focus and Cognitive Function
1. Fish Oils (Omega -3 Fatty Acids)
Topping our list of vitamins for brain power are the omega-3 fatty acids, often found in seafood or fish oil and krill oil supplements. The omega-3 fatty acids are comprised of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
ALA, EPA, and DHA have all been associated with numerous health benefits ranging across many areas of the body and its organs. Some of these health benefits include improving eye health, improving and reducing risk factors associated with heart disease, such as lowering blood pressure, raising “good” HDL cholesterol, and preventing blood clots, reducing the risk of some cancers, improving bone and joint health, improving quality sleep, and promoting healthy beautiful skin.
On top of all of these health benefits, what is possibly most impressive about omega-3s are their benefits for brain health and cognitive development.
Firstly, Omega-3s have been shown to improve brain health during pregnancy and the early life of children. DHA accounts for a whopping 40% of polyunsaturated fat in the brain and 25% of the total fat in your brain cells, so it is no surprise that omega-3s are crucial to brain development in the fetus and in infants.
Research has shown that gett enough omega-3s during pregnancy and giving your child omega-3 enhanced formula is associated with a number of benefits including higher intelligence, better communication and social skills, fewer behavioral problems, decreased risk of developmental delay, and a decreased risk of ADHD and cerebral palsy.
Of course, the cognitive health benefits of taking omega-3s are not limited to children and infants. Taking omega-3 supplements (specifically DHA supplements) has been linked with improved thinking skills, memory, and reaction times in healthy people who have relatively low DHA intakes.
While EPA has not been shown to have the same effects on cognitive function as DHA, it has been shown to have benefits for the overall well-being of the brain with clinical trials linking EPA supplementation to improved overall moods.
In fact, omega-3s are some of the best vitamins to take for those suffering from mental disorders like anxiety and depression, which are some of the most common mental disorders in the world with symptoms like constant worry, nervousness, sadness, lethargy, and a general lack of interest in life’s activities. A number of studies indicate that people who consume omega-3s regularly, either through diet or supplementation, are less likely to be depressed, while other studies show that omega-3 supplementation can improve the symptoms of those already suffering from anxiety and depression. One study even showed that supplementation with EPA can be just as effective an antidepressant as some common prescription antidepressant drugs.
Already the benefits of Omega-3s for brain health are clear, but there is one more great benefit of omega-3s: these fatty acids, and specifically EPA, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that may protect against cognitive decline and damage associated with aging. Supplementation with Omega-3s has been associated with a reduction in the process of mental decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and a decreased risk of developing the disease in the first place.
The best ways to get enough omega-3s through your diet are by eating oily fish like mackerel, salmon, tuna, and herring twice a week or getting omega-3s through fish oil or krill oils. Other foods that include a significant amount of omega-3s are avocados, eggs, and nuts and seeds, such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts.
2. Vitamin B-12
When it comes to vitamin B-12, we can think of the “B” for the “brain.” Vitamin B-12, also known as Cobalamin, has been linked to a number of benefits for cognitive functioning, from helping to alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders, to giving you more energy, to benefiting your memory and preventing the loss of neurons.
Firstly, if you are deficient in B-12, you may feel low on energy, which affects your ability to concentrate, among other cognitive tasks. Research has shown that among those who are deficient in this important vitamin, supplementing with B-12 dietary supplements or getting your B-12 through a comprehensive full B-complex formula, can have the effect of significantly boosting your energy levels, which will likely be accompanied by improvements in your cognitive functioning.
While the effect of B-12 on a person’s mood is not yet fully understood, studies have shown that a person’s B-12 levels are often associated with their risk of having mental disorders like anxiety and depression. Likely because B-12 plays a vital role in the metabolization of serotonin, a chemical highly responsible for the regulation of mood, studies have shown that vitamin B deficiency was associated with double the risk of having severe depression. Additionally, other studies have shown that those who supplement with B-12 while taking anti-depressants are more likely to show improvement of depressive symptoms than those who take antidepressants alone, further suggesting that vitamin B supplementation may have the ability to improve your mood and relieve symptoms of mental disorders.
Finally, vitamin B-12 has been shown to have benefits for memory by preventing the loss of neurons. Vitamin B-12 deficiency has been associated with memory loss, especially in older adults, and it has been suggested that vitamin B-12 plays a vital role in the prevention of brain atrophy, characterized by the loss of brain neurons and often associated with memory loss or dementia. Even if you do not have a full-blown deficiency, one study showed that B-12 levels on the low side of normal can contribute to poor memory performance, and therefore, that B-12 supplementation may be beneficial for memory even in those who do not have a B-12 deficiency.
Vitamin B-12 is found naturally in a number of animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and various other dairy products. Additional dietary sources of B-12 include fortified cereals, beans, and legumes.
Many people, especially those who are vegetarians or vegans, will choose to supplement their vitamin B-12 intake with dietary supplements. Of course, the other B vitamins in the B complex (i.e. vitamin b6 and folic acid) have many health benefits as well, so a great option is to take B-complex vitamins to optimal results.
3. Acetyl-L Carnitine
Acetyl-L carnitine is an amino acid that is naturally produced by our body to generate energy. It has become a popular nootropic supplement known as one of the best vitamins for focus, as well as a range of other cognitive benefits.
Firstly, acetyl-l carnitine has been shown to produce more mental and physical energy in those who take it as a supplement. These effects are especially pronounced in older men and women who supplement with this amino acid, with one study showing that elderly patients who supplemented with acetyl-l carnitine saw a significant boost to their physical and mental energy levels, as well as an overall improvement in their cognitive ability.
Taking acetyl-l carnitine has also been associated with higher levels of alertness and improvement in memory.
Numerous studies have found that acetyl-l carnitine supplementation has been linked to slowing decline in mental and memory function due to age, while supplementation has also looked promising for improving brain functioning in people with mild dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Finally, studies have shown that supplementation with acetyl-l carnitine can be a useful way of fighting depression in older people, as well as improving dysthymia (a milder form of depression) about as well as some common medications.
Dietary sources of acetyl-l carnitine are mainly animal products, such as dairy, poultry, and meat, with red meat having some of the highest concentrations of this beneficial amino acid. Non-animal sources are rare, but some options include whole-wheat bread and asparagus. Most people who want the full benefits of acetyl-l carnitine for their brain and cognitive functions will opt for taking this amino acid in its dietary supplement form.
4. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is an herbal supplement derived from the Ginkgo Biloba tree, most well known for containing powerful antioxidants that minimize free radicals in the body and reduce the risk of cancer. This supplement is also well known for its ability to increase blood flow and therefore protect against various risk factors of heart and artery related diseases. On top of these benefits, this natural remedy has been shown to have a number of benefits for the brain.
The same qualities that make this supplement beneficial for cardiovascular health (i.e. its ability to increase blood flow) are said to benefit the brain by increasing the blood flow to this organ and improving brain functions like focus and memory. In fact, the evidence supporting the claim that ginkgo biloba improves cognitive functions is corroborated by a number of studies that confirm this supplement’s ability to improve memory and thinking skills, especially in middle-aged to elderly people.
In addition to the benefits for cognitive abilities, some studies have suggested that supplementing with ginkgo biloba can have beneficial effects for mental disorders like anxiety. For example, the Journal of Psychiatric Research published a study that showed that people who supplemented with ginkgo experienced greater anxiety relief than those who took a placebo.
A number of studies also suggest that ginkgo may be useful in treating various brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. One study found that ginkgo was effective in treating Alzheimer’s dementia, while another study showed that ginkgo biloba was safe to use and had the potential benefits of stabilizing and possibly improving the cognitive and social functioning in patients with dementia.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an often overlooked nutrient, but it has a number of key roles in maintaining the proper functioning of the brain and the central nervous system. In particular, vitamin E is essential for keeping our neurons healthy. Here’s how it works:
Neurons are the cells that enable proper cognitive function and communication between the brain and the body. These neurons are largely made out of cholesterol and polyunsaturated fats, which are compounds that are highly susceptible to oxidative stress and damage. Similar to vitamin C, Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects our neurons from oxidation, ultimately protecting them from undergoing damage and slowing down the process of cognitive decline due to age.
Some of the most potent dietary sources of vitamin E are nuts and seeds, such as sunflower seeds and almonds, avocados, and leafy greens like spinach, squash, and shrimp.
6. Vitamin D
For a long time, vitamin D has been known to contribute to maintaining healthy bones and to have various benefits for the immune and cardiovascular systems. For example, vitamin D deficiency has been shown to compromise the immune system, raise the risk of hypertension, and negatively affect insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, more recent research has focused on the growing amount of evidence suggesting an intimate link between vitamin D and the functioning of the brain.
Studies have shown that people with low levels of vitamin D were linked to higher levels of depression and anxiety, while other studies suggest that vitamin D has a large role to play in the regulation of our moods. In addition to the effect this vitamin has on our moods, other studies have suggested that vitamin D deficiencies have negative effects on various aspects of our cognition, such as attention and memory.
Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common, leading many people to call it an “ignored epidemic.” In fact, over one billion people in the world have a vitamin D deficiency and a mind-blowing 41.6% of U.S. adults have a vitamin D deficiency. This is likely because our busier lives do not afford us as much time to spend in the sun and the fact that there are relatively little dietary sources of this vitamin.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid produced naturally in the brain. GABA functions as a neurotransmitter whose biggest role in the body is to reduce the activity of neurons in the brain and central nervous system. This has the effect of increasing relaxation, reducing stress, alleviating pain, improving sleep, and promoting a calmer, more balanced mood.
There are many drugs that affect the GABA activity of the brain, such as barbiturates, anesthetics, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants. Of course, many people are looking for more natural supplements to affect their GABA activity, of which magnesium, l-theanine, and valerian are a few.
Naturally, one of the best and most popular options for getting more of the effects that are produced by your body’s natural production of GABA (i.e. the reduction of stress, improvement of sleep, and the other benefits we talked about above) is to take GABA as a supplement, often before bedtime.
One of the best supplements containing GABA around is Tropical Oasis’ best selling Liquid Nootropic Supplement which contains a host of high-quality ingredients that promote mental clarity, increase focus, and improve memory retention. If you are looking for brain fuel, Tropical Oasis has got you covered!
Get Your Brain Firing on All Cylinders
In our busy lives, we could all benefit from a little push when it comes to our cognitive abilities. Luckily, Improved memory, focus, and mental energy are achievable with the right diet and regimen of vitamins for brain function and concentration.
There is no one size fits all vitamin. Some people who simply wish to increase the amount of mental energy that they have may find what they are looking for in B-complex formulas and acetyl-l carnitine supplements. Others, who might be more interested in memory supplements and focus improvement, may look to ginkgo biloba supplements, and even others who are looking to improve their mood and reduce the symptoms of anxiety or depression might be best suited with fish oil supplements rich in omega-3s or vitamin d dietary supplements.
What remains constant for all of these different goals is that they are best achieved with high-quality vitamins that the human body can easily absorb. Otherwise, all of the potential benefits of these vitamins get wasted. Typical pill form vitamins have absorption rates that often range as low as 15 to 20 percent, meaning that the remaining 80 or so percent is flushed straight through the body. On the other hand, Tropical Oasis’ liquid vitamin supplements offer you all the best vitamins for brain function and concentration with absorption rates as high as 98 percent. If you are looking to see serious results in your mental performance, Tropical Oasis is the way to go!