You’re probably aware that vitamins are considered essential nutrients. That’s because vitamins are involved with a countless number of daily bodily functions that keep your body alive.
The most important role of vitamins involves your cells. Vitamins process the energy in cells, which keeps them healthy, allows them to grow, and helps them reproduce.
There is simply no way your body can function properly without a steady diet that includes each of the 13 essential vitamins. Once your food is broken down and digested, the vitamins are absorbed into your bloodstream, shipped across your body, and put to work where needed.
Any excess of fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your fat cells for later use, but excess water-soluble vitamins will be removed through urination. Naturally, your brain cells will require an ample supply of various vitamins to carry out their essential functions. While your brain will need each vitamin to function properly, some vitamins are more beneficial than others.
Here are the top five vitamins that are most beneficial for healthy brain function:
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in vision, the immune system, reproduction, and general growth and development. It also plays a more minor role in regulating the functions of the cardiovascular system and other organs.
How Does Vitamin A Support Cognitive Health?
Vitamin A's primary brain health benefits come from its derivative known as retinoids. These chemical compounds are heavily involved with complex signaling pathways regulating gene expression and controlling various neuron behaviors in the central nervous system. Retinoic acid also appears to support neuroplasticity in the hippocampus, which may contribute to learning abilities and memory.
What Are the Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency?
The most common side effects of a vitamin A deficiency involve issues with your eyes and vision. The eye condition xerophthalmia is especially common and impairs your ability to see in low light. Long-term deficiencies eventually lead to a higher risk of experiencing respiratory illnesses, infections, and anemia in older adults.
How Much Vitamin A Do You Need Each Day?
The recommended amount of vitamin A depends on age and sex. Adult males should generally get 900 micrograms of vitamin A daily, while adult females usually need just a little less at 700 micrograms.
Which Foods Are Good Sources of Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is relatively abundant and is found in a variety of foods. There are two different food-based sources of vitamin A:
- Preformed vitamin A is in organ meats such as the liver, and most fish and dairy products, including eggs, milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- Provitamin A carotenoids are converted into vitamin A by your body and found in fruits and vegetables like sweet potato, winter squash, kale, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, and bell peppers. The carotenoids are the pigments that give some of these foods their yellow, orange, or red coloring.
2. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is a water-soluble vitamin that’s needed to properly break down proteins, carbohydrates, sugars, and fats. It plays a role in more than 140 enzyme reactions involving the digestive, nervous, and immune systems.
How Does Vitamin B6 Support Brain Health?
Vitamin B6 is beneficial for the brain and nervous systems primarily because it’s involved in the production of several essential proteins and hormones, including:
- Hemoglobin is a protein found in the blood that transports oxygen throughout the body and brain.
- Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your internal clock, immune system, and energy metabolism.
- Serotonin is a hormone that helps to regulate your mood, attention span, learning, and memory.
- Norepinephrine is a hormone that functions as a neurotransmitter to help you cope with stress, stay alert, and decrease memory loss.
What Are the Symptoms of Vitamin B6 Deficiency?
The most common effects of a vitamin B6 deficiency involve general skin inflammation. It’s possible for skin to become dry and irritated, which can often lead to a reddened and scaly rash appearing. The tongue might become sore while cracks start forming in the mouth's corners. Some people might experience confusion, mood swings, and a higher risk for seizures.
How Much Vitamin B6 Do You Need Each Day?
Anyone under 50 should aim to get at least 1.3 milligrams of vitamin B6 daily. After the age of 50, it will increase based on your sex. Men will need at least 1.7 milligrams, and women will need at least 1.5 milligrams.
Which Foods Are Good Sources of Vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6 exists in a wide variety of animal and plant-based foods, including chickpeas, liver, tuna, salmon, chicken, potatoes, bananas, cottage cheese, and squash.
3. Vitamin B9
Vitamin B9 (folate) is a water-soluble vitamin involved with protein metabolism, red blood cell production, and the synthesis of DNA and RNA. It also plays a key role in breaking down the amino acid homocysteine, which can be very harmful in large quantities.
How Does Vitamin B9 Support Brain Health?
Protecting the brain from the effects of homocysteine is vital for positive brain health. Homocysteine can cause neurotoxic effects that increase the risk of developing brain atrophy.
Another critical benefit of vitamin B9 is that it plays a vital role in the production of S-adenosylmethionine, which is essential for neurotransmitter production.
What Are the Symptoms of Vitamin B9 Deficiency?
The most common consequence of a vitamin B9 deficiency is anemia, which occurs when your blood lacks healthy red blood cells. As a result, you’ll typically experience extreme fatigue, a pale appearance, shortness of breath, irritability, and dizziness when blood flow is compromised.
A long-term vitamin B9 deficiency could potentially result in cardiovascular issues and decreased cognitive function.
How Much Vitamin B9 Do You Need Each Day?
Adults of both sexes will generally need around 400 micrograms of vitamin B9 daily. Pregnant women will typically need to increase their daily intake of vitamin B9 to between 400 and 1,000 micrograms daily.
Which Foods Are Good Sources of Vitamin B9?
You can find vitamin B9 in various foods, including liver, spinach, black-eyed peas, rice, asparagus, lettuce, and broccoli.
4. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 (cobabline) is a water-soluble vitamin that helps keep your blood and nerve cells healthy and plays a part in the production of DNA. It’s also heavily involved with the metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids.
How Does Vitamin B12 Support Brain Health?
The greatest benefit of vitamin B12 is that it can help support you make DNA, which is needed for every single cell you have.
Vitamin B12 also plays a role in the synthesis of various neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine.
What Are the Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
A vitamin B12 deficiency can be difficult to diagnose as there are many potential symptoms. Here are a few examples of the most common side effects:
- Difficulty walking
- Elevated heart rate
- Extreme fatigue
- Mood swings
- Numbness in hands or feet
- Reduced appetite
- Weakened muscles
- Weight loss
How Much Vitamin B12 Do You Need Each Day?
The recommended daily value of vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms. Pregnant women and adults over 65 should try to get more than 2.4 micrograms each day.
Which Foods Are Good Sources of Vitamin B12?
There is a high concentration of vitamin B12 in animal-based foods, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Certain dietary supplements and nutrition bars contain vitamin B12 as well.
These B vitamins are often referred to as b complex and can be found in a singular supplement for convenience.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in the intestinal absorption of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
How Does Vitamin D Support Brain Health?
Vitamin D is considered to be neuroprotective because of its several antioxidant properties. As a result, it can help support cognitive performance (especially attention and memory). It can also help protect brain cells, play a role in neurotransmitter synthesis, and support overall normal neurodevelopment.
What Are the Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency is a serious medical condition with dangerous symptoms. The odds of developing several ailments are much higher in people with a vitamin D deficiency.
Some signs and symptoms include bone loss, fatigue, bone and joint pain, and muscle weakness.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need Each Day?
The recommended daily value of vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) for anyone between the ages of one and 70 years. Anyone over 70 years old will typically need a daily dose of 800 IU.
Which Foods Are Good Sources of Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is unique because it’s naturally produced by our bodies whenever we are in the sunlight. That’s very beneficial because few foods are naturally high in vitamin D concentration.
The best food sources of vitamin D3 are fatty fish and fish oils, but you can also find traces in egg yolks, cheese, and liver. Another benefit of eating fatty fish is omega-3 fatty acids, which can also support brain health.
Optimal levels of vitamin D2 are even more difficult to find as it’s largely only found in various mushrooms and fungi. Always reach out to your healthcare provider to learn more about what vitamins you may be deficient in.
MOSH For Brain Health
Getting the recommended daily value of all the 13 essential vitamins is an easy way to keep your brain in good health. Each of the five vitamins listed above is important, so ensure you’re getting enough of them daily. One way to help accomplish this goal is to subscribe to MOSH.
Every MOSH protein bar you eat includes 15% of the recommended daily value of vitamin D3 and 100% of the recommended value of vitamin B12. That’s only the beginning of the brain benefits that come with MOSH. In addition to these vitamins, you’ll also be getting superfood and brain nutrients such as omega-3s, collagen, lion’s mane, and ashwagandha.
Order a trial pack of MOSH bars and discover the brain benefits for yourself. You’ll be able to try each of the three delicious flavors while naturally fueling your brain power with the good stuff.
After having your mind blown with the trial pack, you’ll have the option to manually purchase boxes of 12 or subscribe and get 20 percent off. Talk about a no-brainer!
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Vitamin D | Harvard School of Public Health
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Vitamin B12 Enhances Nerve Repair and Improves Functional Recovery After Traumatic Brain Injury | PMC
Folate | Health Professional Fact Sheet
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Folate (Folic Acid) – Vitamin B9 | Harvard School of Public Health
Vitamin B6 | Health Professional Fact Sheet
Vitamin B6 Deficiency | NCBI Bookshelf
Vitamin B6 | Health Professional Fact Sheet
Vitamin B6 | Harvard School of Public Health
Vitamin A and Carotenoids | Health Professional Fact Sheet
Vitamin A Deficiency | NCBI Bookshelf
Functional implication of the vitamin A signaling pathway in the brain | PubMed
Vitamin A | Harvard School of Public Health