5 Nutrients to Fight Brain FogPosted on : August 21, 2023
by Ashleigh Feltham Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist
5 Nutrients to Fight Brain Fog
Moments when you know your brain is not thinking clearly and in a ‘fog’ is frustrating.The good news is that there are certain nutrients that may help to clear the brain fog and help you function at your best.
Five key nutrients to add to your diet to help clear brain fog include:
Omega-3 fats are an essential polyunsaturated fat. This means that you cannot make this fat in your body, and you need to get it from the food you eat. Omega-3 fats are needed to make brain cells as well as regulate neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that control how messages are sent and carried through your brain.
Two omega-3 fats called Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are of particular importance. DHA is the main type of fat that your brain uses. These two types of omega-3 fats are found in significant amounts in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring and mackerel. For good health it is recommended to include 100g of cooked seafood two to three times a week.
This fat-soluble vitamin has many functions including optimising your immune system function and allowing calcium to be absorbed properly in your body. Achieving optimal amounts of vitamin D in your body may help reduce brain fog; insufficient levels may lead to a reduction in the production of neurotransmitters in your brain. Low levels of vitamin D may also increase inflammation in your body. Chronic inflammation can decrease the health and function of your body in many ways, including the function of your brain.
The main source of vitamin D comes from the sun, but there are food sources that provide this vitamin. This includes foods like seafood, eggs including the yolk, dairy and fortified products like cereals, orange juice and margarine.
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends men and women aged 19-50 have 5mcg per day. Between the ages of 51 and 70 years, the adequate intake increases to 10mcg per day. From the 71 years on, the adequate intake further increases to 15mcg per day.
Vitamin B12, also called cyanocobalamin, is essential for the normal functioning of your central nervous system. Inadequate levels can lead to anaemia, fatigue and brain fog. It is a vitamin found in good amounts in animal-based foods like lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy.
Iron is a mineral needed to transport oxygen around your body. Without adequate oxygen, your brain cannot function well and can lead to brain fog. Iron also plays an important role in optimising your immune system. Men need 8mg of iron daily and women need 18mg of iron a day.
The easiest source of iron for your body to use is called haem iron. This is the iron you will find in animal meats, chicken, and seafood. Your body can absorb around 20% of haem iron. The other type in non-haem or the non-animal form of iron found in plant foods like wholegrains, legumes, tofu, fortified food and beverage products, leafy greens, and nuts and seeds. Unfortunately, only around 6.4-18% of non-haem iron is absorbed in the gut. This is why vegetarians and vegans need to be mindful of including enough iron in their diets.
Magnesium is an essential major mineral your body needs to function. It is involved in over 325 different body functions. It is needed for the normal regulation of your nervous system as well as to keep your blood pressure within healthy levels. Both these functions promote optimal brain health.
Men over the age of 31 years need 350mg and women need 265mg each day.
Good sources of magnesium per 100g include:
- Anchovies 101mg
- Oysters 98mg
- Mussels 75mg
- Salmon 30mg
- Tuna 50mg
- Firm Tofu 78mg
- Pumpkin seeds 592mg
- Sunflower seeds 370mg
- Peanut butter 180mg
- Uncooked rolled oats 104mg
- Raw spinach 107mg
- Raw almonds 266mg
- Cheese 70mg
- Avocado 73mg
- Wholewheat bread 99mg
- Quinoa 64mg
- Brown rice 143mg
Take home message
If you feel that your brain is not working at its best and you frequently suffer from brain fog, try including these nutrients in sufficient quantities in your diet. It may be the missing link you need for your brain to work at its best.