7 Brain Boosting Nutrients

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7 Brain Boosting Nutrients
Graphic: © herbs-info.com. Image source – Pixabay (PD).

The brain is the most complex and important organ. With this in mind, it’s vital to promote its optimal functioning by eating high-quality foods with the right nutrients. Some of these nutrients include:

1. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): DHA is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in the brain. [1] Several studies link the healthy fat to improving ADHD symptoms, helping with dementia, and slowing down/preventing Alzheimer’s disease, among other mental health benefits. [2][3][4] Therefore, it makes sense to increase your intake of anchovies, salmon, and other oily fish with a high level of DHA.

2. Resveratrol: Resveratrol is a plant compound found in peanuts, some berries, grapes, and red wine. Credible studies have demonstrated that it has promising results in stimulating brain function, improving the immune system, promoting heart health, and fighting aging. [5][6][7][8]

3. Turmeric: Curcumin – the main active ingredient in turmeric – helps reduce the risk of brain damage, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. [9][10][11]

4. Probiotics: Heard of gut flora – a group of ‘good bacteria’ that resides in your intestines? Recent studies suggest that probiotics can modulate the effects of depression, anxiety, and stress by influencing brain behavior [12][13][14]. You can either buy probiotic supplements or add probiotic foods to your diet (pickles, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, miso, etc.).

5. Coconut Oil: If you’re looking for a readily available nutrient to boost your brain, consider supplementing your diet with coconut oil. Some studies claim that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil can help reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy. [15][16]

6. Alpha-Lipoic Acid: Alpha-lipoic acid is a compound produced naturally in the human body but small amounts. That said, people often turn to potent supplements or certain food sources (Brussel sprouts, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, etc.). The powerful antioxidant properties of alpha-lipoic acid have been linked to improved nerve function, managing Alzheimer’s, and slowed aging. [17][18][19]

7. Vitamin D: Also referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” vitamin D is an important nutrient in facilitating improved brain health. Several studies have linked the compound to reducing the effects of depression, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and anxiety. [20][21][22][23]

Please note that these are suggested dietary guidelines and they are not meant to substitute your physician’s advice. Always consult your doctor before making health changes.


[1] Greenberg J. et al. 2008. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation During Pregnancy https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2621042/.

[2] Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: A comprehensive review of the evidence. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29779801/.

[3] Effects of N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Dementia https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27924168/.

[4] Association of Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation With Alzheimer Disease Stage in Apolipoprotein E ε4 Carriers: A Review https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28114437/.

[5] Cognitive Performances Are Selectively Enhanced During Chronic Caloric Restriction or Resveratrol Supplementation in a Primate https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21304942/.

[6] Malaguarnera, L. 2019. Influence of Resveratrol on the Immune Response https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566902/.

[7] Cognitive Performances Are Selectively Enhanced During Chronic Caloric Restriction or Resveratrol Supplementation in a Primate https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21304942/.

[8] Hubbard, B. et al. 2013. Evidence for a Common Mechanism of SIRT1 Regulation by Allosteric Activators https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3799917/.

[9] Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006899306027144.

[10] Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Curcumin https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17569207/.

[11] Takada Y. et al. 2004. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Agents Differ in Their Ability to Suppress NF-kappaB Activation, Inhibition of Expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and Cyclin D1, and Abrogation of Tumor Cell Proliferation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15489888.

[12] Effect of Probiotics on Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27509521/.

[13] The Effects of Probiotics on Mental Health and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial in Petrochemical Workers https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25879690/.

[14] Probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/probiotics-may-help-boost-mood-and-cognitive-function.

[15] Reger MA. 2004. Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15123336.

[16] Liu YM. et al. 2013. Medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diet, an effective treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy and a comparison with other ketogenic diets. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23515148.

[17] Guizar, M. 2018. Effect of Alpha-Lipoic Acid on Clinical and Neurophysiologic Recovery of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29356576.

[18] Maczurek A. et al. 2008. Lipoic acid as an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18655815.

[19] Sherif S. 2014. The clinical efficacy of cosmeceutical application of liquid crystalline nanostructured dispersions of alpha lipoic acid as anti-wrinkle. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24056055.

[20] Effects of vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of depression in overweight and obese subjects: randomized double blind trial https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2796.2008.02008.x.

[21] Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels and Risk of Multiple Sclerosis https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/204651.

[22] Judd S. 2008. Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk for Cardiovascular Disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2726624/.

[23] Vitamin D deficiency is associated with anxiety and depression in fibromyalgia http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10067-006-0348-5.

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7 Brain Boosting Nutrients
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