Glossary of Brain Nutrients


This page includes a growing repository of research investigating the role of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in brain health.

Click on the arrows for each entry to learn more.You may also search for specific nutrient research in our Evidence Database.

One of the most obvious yet under recognised factors in the development of mental health is nutrition. Just like the heart, stomach and liver, the brain is an organ that requires different amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fattyacids, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and water to remain healthy. An integrated approach that equally reflects the interplay of biological factors, as well as broader psychological, emotional and social conceptions of mental health, is vital in order to reduce the prevalence and the distress caused by mental health
problems: diet is a cornerstone of this integrated approach.

Mental Health Foundation policy briefing 2017

Thanks to our wonderful volunteers for compiling the research for this list.

Selenium

Selenium is a component of an enzyme that acts as an anti-oxidant and is especially protective in against the negative impact of stress and glucocorticoid exposure, i.e. excessive exposure of the brain to cortisol, as well as being protective against inflammation.

B5

Vitamin B5 has been found to work closely with other B vitamins as well as on its own in regards to brain function. The main function of the vitamin in the body is to be a precursor for the synthesis of acetyl-CoA.

B6

B6 is an essential water-soluble vitamin, and must be obtained from the diet due to humans inability to synthesize it themselves – good dietary sources include fish, legumes, nuts, bananas & potatoes. The primary symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency are neurological, with identified brain-specific symptoms of B6 deficiency including irritability, impaired alertness, autonomic dysfunction & convulsion

Folate

Folate is an essential micronutrient and one of the B vitamins. Folates are vital for one-carbon metabolism pathways which are involved in methylation, biosynthesis of DNA and production of purines, nucleotides, neurotransmitters and amino acids.

B12

B12 is essential for brain health, and physiologically active in the body in the forms of Methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin , while cyanocobalamin is the main commercially available synthetic form

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