The One Vitamin and Foods to Eat Every Day for Brain Health

Nutritionists, neurologists, and psychiatrists have spent countless hours researching the nutritional component for optimal brain function and preventing cognitive decline. Here’s essential nutrients for brain health.

The essential nutrient to brain health

While there are a number of vitamins and minerals that contribute to brain health, one Harvard nutritional psychiatrist says there is one vitamin, actually a group of vitamins, that are absolutely essential to brain health. Dr. Uma Naidoo recently shared her insight with CNBC.

study undertaken at Wayne State University School of Medicine found that B vitamins played a major role in brain health and that patients suffering from depression, dementia, and mental impairment suffered from a deficiency of B vitamins.

The eight B vitamins and what they provide

1. Vitamin B1, or thiamin: basic cell function and the metabolism of nutrients for energy.

2. Vitamin B2, or riboflavin: assists enzymes in cells for important reactions. Helps cells grow, produce energy, and break down fats and medications.

3. Vitamin B3, or niacin: works with over 400 enzymes to produce various materials such as needed cholesterol and fat, converts energy for all organ systems. Also an antioxidant that aids in reducing inflammation.

4. Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid: is essential for creating coenzyme A, which helps build and break down fatty acids for energy. Helps cells generate acyl carrier proteins, producing necessary fats. The brain is primarily fat, so B5 is among the most important vitamins for brain health.

5. Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine: plays a role in disease prevention as proper levels of this vitamin is associated with reducing the risk of numerous cancers. Helps chemical reactions that support immune function and brain health.

6. Vitamin B7, or biotin: regulates cell signals. In the brain, it provides crucial cellular signaling via neurotransmitters.

7. Vitamin B9, or folate: is a key vitamin for supporting brain and neurological health, optimizing neurotransmitter function, and balancing psychological health. Encourages cellular detoxification.

8. Vitamin B12, or cobalamin: is essential for the formation of red blood cells and DNA. Supports the development and function of the nervous system. Supports the breakdown of homocysteine, a protein that can lead to dementia when in excess, as well as impact cardiovascular health.

Foods rich in Vitamin B

One way of getting the essential eight B vitamins is through daily consumption of the foods naturally rich in these vitamins. Here are six foods that are rich in vitamin B you may want to consider eating every day.

One egg: Vitamin B7, (and small amounts of other B vitamins).

Salmon: Naturally rich in all eight B vitamins, especially B2, B3, B6, and B12. (Fresh, frozen, and canned are all fine).

Legumes: Vitamin B9, found in black beans, lentils, chickpeas and edamame (also contains small amounts of B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6).

Yogurt: Vitamins B2 and B12 (and natural probiotics).

Leafy greens: B9 is in Spinach, Swiss chard, and cabbage. This food also can boost a low mood.

Sunflower seeds: Vitamin B5. One ounce of seeds contains 20% of recommended daily value.

Best B Vitamin supplements

If you can’t get your B vitamins from the food you consume, consider taking a B vitamins supplement that provides all eight B vitamins.

Here are some of the best B-complex supplements that are dietitian-approved and contain all eight B vitamins, according to Healthline.

Most affordable: Pure Encapsulations B-Complex Plus.

Best overall: Nordic Naturals Vitamin B Complex.

Best vegan: Thorne B-Complex #12.

Best liquid: Pure Encapsulations B-Complex Liquid, BrainChild Nutritionals B-Complex Liquid.

Best for athletes: Pure Encapsulations B-Complex Plus.