Vitamins and minerals make it possible for us to lead an active, productive life and have strong bones and teeth, with bright, sparkling eyes, soft skin, and good digestion and perform well in academics, work, and sports and so on. Although a host of vitamins and minerals perform crucial tasks in the body, three vitamins and minerals are essential for your overall health — and more importantly to keep your brain healthy.
Vital Vitamins and Minerals for brain function
The major vitamins that are vital for brain and overall health are vitamin D, folic acid — which is also known as vitamin M or B9 — and vitamin C. The three vital minerals — calcium, magnesium and selenium — prevent chronic diseases and boost brain health. You only need these vitamins and minerals in small quantities, but to stay healthy, you should consume these compounds through your diet on a daily basis, since your body cannot synthesize them.
Why They’re Important
Vitamin D and calcium are bone-health and structural nutrients. Without vitamin D, calcium from foods would not be absorbed in your intestine. And without either of them, the appropriate foundation for skeletal structures and bones are not laid. Vitamin D is known to be a powerful antioxidant and is required to prevent chronic lifestyle diseases. Children need adequate vitamin D for normal brain development.
Getting adequate vitamin D throughout adult life can ward off cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s and improve memory and cognition.
The best source of vitamin D is sunshine, available in abundance in India in summer. Maximum skin surface should be exposed to the early afternoon sunlight for at least 20 minutes a day to get enough of this vitamin. While exposing to the sunlight, it is crucial to not use any kind of sunscreen or lotions or cover yourself with scarfs or hats. Food sources include cod liver oil or the sea fish, mushrooms and egg yolk.
Folic acid and vitamin B12 both work together to promote brain health. Folic acid helps form red blood cells and prevents certain congenital defects in the fetus called spina bifida. The brain needs these vitamins to metabolize fuel — glucose — and regulate levels of homocysteinethat is responsible for inflammatory process in the body. Inflammation goes on to cause strokes, brain hemorrhages, cardiovascular diseases and so on. Other B complex vitamins also improve mood, ward off depression and enhance neurotransmission that plays a major role in sending and receiving electro-chemical signals within the brain and facilitate communication with all the other organ systems in the body. These powerful neurochemicals are responsible for regulating practically all functions in life, such as cognitive, physical and mental performance, sleep cycle, weight, pain perception and response and our emotional states.
Vitamin C not only helps the body absorb iron, which is absolutely essential for blood circulation and oxygen supply, but also helps regulate neurotransmission. Vitamin C is known as the happy vitamin, since it helps production of chemicals that induce a sense of being happy. Magnesium as a mineral is involved in functions like digestion, absorption,protein synthesis and nerve health. Selenium is a trace mineral distributed widely in foods and protects brain cells from damage.
Eat a Nutritious, Varied Diet
While supplements of these vitamins are not known to be safe, eating a diverse diet that provides all nutrients is still the best way of arming yourself with brain boosters. Whole grains, eggs, low-fat dairy products, liver, fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables provide all the vitamins and minerals needed for your body.
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