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What Vitamins Are Needed for Clear Thinking?

By Melinda L. Secor

As noted by many researchers through the years, including those at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, nutrition and cognitive function are deeply intertwined. Without a sufficient intake of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, the brain simply cannot perform at optimum levels. Adjusting the daily diet or using nutritional supplements to ensure an adequate intake of the vitamins needed for clear thinking can make a difference in day-to-day cognitive function and brain health.

B Vitamins

The B vitamins are vital to brain health and cognitive function, according to a 2004 "Psychology Today" article. “Severe deficiencies,” as stated by the article, “of several B vitamins have been shown to have profound effects on the brain.” Among these are measurable abnormalities in brain waves, memory malfunctions, and higher levels of depression, anxiety, confusion, difficulty in concentrating, and irritability. Furthermore, the article explains, “even marginal deficiencies of B vitamins can cause EEG disturbances and inhibit mental performance.” In other words, brain function and mood can be affected by even comparatively small shortfalls in the daily intake of B vitamins. The vitamin B complex is essential to clear thinking.

Antioxidant Vitamins C and E

In 2001, the Alabama Cooperative Extension made note of the close relationship between vitamins and brain function. In addition to pointing out the importance of the B vitamins, an article by Alabama Cooperative Extension System nutritionist Dr. Robert E. Keith explained the importance of antioxidant vitamins C and E to brain function. Dr. Keith discussed the effects “of fatty substances in the bloodstream attaching to arterial walls and undergoing a process known as oxidization” on cognition. The oxidization leads to plaque formation, which can reduce and even, after time, block blood flow to the brain, having a negative impact on brain function. According to the doctor, however, “studies have shown so-called "antioxidant" vitamins, such as C and E, may work indirectly to prevent oxidization from occurring in the first place,” noting that “antioxidants seem to be effective even in instances where impaired brain function already has occurred.” Antioxidants have a very important role in cognitive function and brain health.

Vitamin D

According to a 2009 "Scientific American" article, clinical studies have clearly demonstrated the relationship between sufficient vitamin D and brain function. Deficiencies in vitamin D have been shown to be associated with impaired cognitive function, including “slower information-processing speed.” The conclusion was echoed by Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute scientists Joyce C. McCann, Ph.D., and Bruce N. Ames, Ph.D. Their study concluded that there is ample biological evidence to suggest an important role for vitamin D in brain development and function, and that supplementation for groups chronically low in it is warranted. Vitamin D can be considered to be among the vitamins essential for clear thinking and optimum brain function.

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