While there are many factors beyond our control in the ageing process, we can all help keep our brain sharp by ensuring we get a healthy dose of memory boosting foods. Below we have listed six of the most important vitamins and minerals for healthy memory and brain function, as well as foods that are rich in each vitamin and mineral to yield brain-boosting benefits.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Among other B group vitamins, thiamine is considered important in maintaining good memory and cognition. A study into supplementation of Alzheimer’s patients with oral thiamine yielded positive results regarding their cognitive function. Foods rich in thiamine include red meat and seafood, as well as nuts, seeds and wheat bread.
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
While perhaps best known for its role in the brain development of foetuses, folic acid is considered an essential vitamin for preventing cognitive decline. Studies into folic acid deficiencies in older patients have found that it can cause dysfunctions similar to ageing. Spinach and other green leafy vegetables are known to be rich in folic acid, as well as asparagus and soya beans.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Vitamin C is well-known for its ability to prevent oxidative stress, and as such plays an important part in healthy brain function. As the body cannot store ascorbic acid, regular intake through food or supplementation is necessary. Some of the best sources of ascorbic acid are citruses, strawberries, guava and green vegetables.
A study published in the US National Library of Medicine supports the notion that regular Vitamin E intake can be beneficial in warding off the signs of cognitive deterioration. Walnuts are a particularly good source of Vitamin E, with a bonus of being rich in omega-3 fats and antioxidants.
Early studies in a Journal of Neuroscience article suggest that enhanced levels of brain magnesium may help to mitigate the synaptic loss and cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s disease. While this research is preliminary, magnesium is known to help ward off other symptoms of ageing and is one of the most common mineral deficiencies in our current diets. Foods rich in magnesium include black beans, almonds, yoghurt, pumpkin seeds and spinach.
Studies into the role of zinc in preventing neurological disorder suggest that zinc is a common deficiency in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Zinc supplementation has been stated to improve the symptoms of patients suffering from neurodegeneration. Zinc is a mineral that the body does not naturally store, so a regular intake is necessary – red meats, seeds, nuts and spinach are all excellent sources of the mineral.