Whether you are throwing breakfasts and lunches together before rushing out the door, sipping smoothies between meetings or even prepping your meals the day before, you are likely not getting the daily nutrients that you need through your diet. There are documented deficiencies of omega-3s as well as vitamin D and C in Americans, all of which are essential to optimal brain health. Want to stay sharp? Here are 5 nutrients that can boost your brainpower, making you more productive, happy and healthy for years to come.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3s support brain and nervous system function, eye health and system development — all important in maintaining a healthy, balanced body.* Not only that, but scientists believe that omega-3 fatty acids may help protect against cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease.* Although you can find omega-3s in foods such as fish (tuna, salmon and halibut — see this recipe for a tasty salmon taco dish with fresh peaches and basil), along with some plants and nut oils, it can be tricky to incorporate the required amount into your diet as one piece of salmon isn’t quite enough! An omega-3 supplement is another great option to support the body and mind, as it helps to maintain healthy glucose and lipid levels, bronchial health and has beneficial effects upon the body’s ability to respond to stress.*
DHA and EPA
DHA and EPA are two of the fatty acids that make up omega-3s and are responsible for memory, language, creativity, judgment and emotion. DHA accounts for over 97 percent of all omega-3 fatty acids in the brain. It builds cell membranes and nerve cells and increases the number of neurotransmitter receptors so your body can more easily use feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, making you and your brain happier and healthier simultaneously. EPA is also a mood booster; it helps to maintain a sense of calm, lowers cardiovascular risk factors and helps to metabolize fat.* Consider incorporating DHA and EPA supplements into your diet, particularly if you are vegetarian or vegan, as vegetable oils don’t always make the cut in meeting your daily requirements.
Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common, especially in places with shorter summer seasons. This particular deficit is not only a factor affecting your overall mood, but can also be a factor in the development of several degenerative diseases. In a 2017 study that evaluated the role of vitamin D status in cognition, it was found that those who were vitamin D deficient experienced a faster rate of cognitive decline and a nearly 3-fold increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.* Increase your vitamin D intake through supplements like Nordic Naturals’ D3 formulas, which combine fish oils with 1000 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D3 to help build stronger bones, increase mood and keep your mind in peak condition.*
You could also try a recipe high in iron and vitamin D like this Mixed Mushroom Stew, which combines 7 different varieties of mushrooms with whole wheat orzo and lean ground pork for a hearty and warming seasonal meal.
Probiotics support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, making them an important complement to this list. You’ve likely heard about gut flora, which are the bacteria that line your intestines and help to break down food. Probiotics help to support and boost the “good” bacteria in your system (such as gut flora) which is essential for a healthy digestive tract.* In addition, studies have shown that probiotics can potentially alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety— brain health for the win!* Add a probiotic supplement to your daily routine to ensure that your good gut bacteria are flourishing and that your body is taking in the nutrients it needs.
With our busy day-to-day lifestyles and inconsistent eating habits, many Americans are likely not getting the daily nutrients that we need through our diet. Ensure you’re meeting the requirements for brain-boosting nutrients by incorporating more vitamin D and C and plenty of omega-3s into your routine. Your mind and body will thank you.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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