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Some of the more important vitamins for the brain include members of the class of B vitamins and the vitamins C and E. B vitamins are important for providing energy for all the cells of the body, including those of the brain. Some are also especially necessary for regular nervous system functioning. Vitamins C and E are vitamins for the brain that may help hold off some of aging's negative effects. These effects include forgetfulness and reduced comprehension or concentration.
Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, plays a role in helping the body make enough of the brain's primary fuel, glucose. Not getting enough could lead to fatigue or memory problems. Nuts and grains are good sources. Vitamins B2, B3, and B5 are also important in the production of energy for the body's cells.
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, plays an important part in brain health. It aids in the production of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers nerve cells use to communicate with each other. B6 has been studied in relation to depression, cognitive function, and memory. Good sources include bananas and beans. Folic acid, another B vitamin, supports brain blood flow and may prevent stroke and depression. It's found in green vegetables.
Vitamin B12 may be the most important of the B vitamins for the brain. Most people who eat animal foods get enough B12, but older people might be deficient. Low levels could contribute to temporary memory problems and fatigue. Choline, sometimes classed as a B vitamin, is also important for brain health. Most people probably aren't deficient, but good sources include eggs and soy products.
Vitamin C has a few potential benefits as a vitamin for a healthy brain. Like folic acid and possibly other vitamins for the brain, it may reduce the risk of stroke. It could also slow the onset or effects of cognitive decline. Getting enough vitamin C from food sources like fresh fruits and vegetables or from supplements may ward off some of the age-related losses in mental sharpness. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant in the brain, which may be responsible for its benefits.
Vitamin E, alone or in combination with other vitamins for the brain, could also help guard against age-related declines in memory. There is some evidence that people with low levels of vitamin E in their blood are at a greater risk for developing cognitive impairment. A multivitamin should supply enough vitamin E, but good food sources include nuts and seeds.