If you are like most people, thoughts of eating or supplementing with vitamins and minerals are for reasons like protecting yourself from winter colds or increasing the energy your body makes available to you. However, you may be surprised to learn the role that vitamins and minerals can play in your mental health.
B vitamins are crucial to the overall function of the brain. These vitamins are responsible for regulating the behaviors of the neurotransmitters that transport information to and from the neurons in your brain. Your thoughts, feelings, and actions are dependent on the actions of these neurotransmitters. These information carriers also play a major function in both the immune and endocrine systems of the body. The specific B vitamins that influence the health of the brain include:
Vitamin B3 - Niacin
Vitamin B6 - Pyrodoxine
Vitamin B9 - Folate
Vitamin B12- Cobalamin
Magnesium takes a lead role in controlling the exchange of signals between the brain and the body. This is because the mineral is the keeper of the NDMA receptors that influence learning, memory, and the development of the brain. Magnesium is present in your NDMA receptors and acts as a preventative measure against the receptors being unnecessarily triggered by weak signals.
DHA and EPA are Omega 3 fatty acids that are important to proper brain function. The importance of these fatty acids to the brain is demonstrated in different ways at different stages in life. In adults, DHA and EPA are necessary to preserve healthy cell membranes and ensure the brain cells are able to communicate properly.
Calcium is as important as any mineral to brain health. It first functions as a messenger for nerve cells. Zinc has also demonstrated the ability to control excess excitability in the brain and nervous system while also acting as a regulator for neurotransmission.
The body's highest concentration of Vitamin C is in the brain. This vitamin is especially important to the function of the pituitary gland. Vitamin C supports dopamine synthesis and provides the brain with a shield against oxidative stress. Vitamin C cannot be stored long term in the body so it is important you eat foods that provide the vitamin on a daily basis. Good sources of Vitamin C include green, leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.
If you don’t want to analyze your food too much, don’t worry. You can just focus on having balanced meals with a good combination of plant foods, protein, fiber, and fats.