The brain is a complex and crucial organ. Everything you say and do is controlled by the brain, until the last feeling and thought. It still works even while you sleep. However, as one age, the brain slows and mental function decreases. Although this is a totally normal part of aging, it can also become a debilitating problem. Dementia, a general term for the loss of cognitive function, affects 50 percent of people starting at age 85. The most common cause is Alzheimer’s disease , a condition that affects millions of adults. The slowdown depends on lifestyle habits, starting with nutrition.
Enter B vitamins, some of the most vital micronutrients for your brain. These water-soluble vitamins support the nervous system and brain health, becoming some of the best weapons against neurodegenerative diseases. This is how vitamin B can save your brain.
1. Control Homocysteine:
The folate is essential for the central nervous system. It can prevent neural tube defects in unborn babies, explaining why it is so important for pregnant mothers. But as one gets older, folate remains crucial. In adults, folate deficiency raises blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Folate will help control those levels, so it is important to get enough. But nevertheless it cannot work alone. Actually, folate deficiency could mask vitamin B12 deficiency, another condition that increases homocysteine. But when they are taken together, folate and B12 work to keep things under control.
2. Decrease Brain Contraction:
As one ages, the brain weakens and is consumed naturally. But is it possible to slow down the process? According to a study conducted in 2013 by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, B vitamins can help. Specifically, a combination of folic acid, B6 and B12 can suppress brain contraction up to seven times. It reduces atrophy in gray matter that is vulnerable to the Alzheimer’s process and therefore slows mental deterioration.
3. Reduce Beta Amyloid:
Beta amyloid protein, the marker of Alzheimer’s disease, represents another risk to the brain. At high levels, they can accumulate and form sticky plaques that block cell signaling. In some cases, plaques can even cause inflammation. That’s where folate comes into play. According to a study conducted in 2017 in the journal PloS One, low levels increase the risk of accumulation of beta amyloid, giving your brain a protective dose.
4. Protect Neurons:
A healthy brain depends on healthy neurons or nerve cells. And according to a 2016 review in the journal Nutrients, folate is necessary to repair neurons.
“Even the diversity of these nerve cells depends on an adequate intake of folate”.
Thiamine, or vitamin B1, also helps maintain the structure and function of nerve cell membranes. It is an element of change to protect neurons from damage!
5. Produces Neurotransmitters:
Neurons communicate by sending chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. These chemicals control behavior, sleep and mental function by sending signals. The healthier the neurotransmitters, the better the signals. B vitamins can make it happen. For example, vitamin B6 is a cofactor for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and melatonin, but mild deficiency can lower levels. Other cofactors of vitamin B include thiamine, pantothenic acid (B5) and folate.
Sources of B Vitamins:
To get B vitamins, focus on the following foods:
- Dairy products
- Green leafy vegetables
- Green peas
- Cereals and fortified bread
B vitamins are water soluble vitamins that dissolve easily in water and are not stored by the body. This makes it important to replenish them daily through food. In addition, these water-soluble vitamins are easily eliminated or destroyed when you prepare food or store it. To minimize this loss, always refrigerate foods rich in B vitamins and keep them out of direct sunlight.