Energy and brain function
(Pleasantville, NJ, USA)
What are the best vitamins to promote memory and brain function? What are the best vitamins to promote physical and mental energy?
Doug's Reply: I like the way you phrased that question. Many people want a pill that *gives* them energy or better brain power. While some supplements provide a temporary boost (example: caffeine), they often have side effects or stop working eventually.
"Promote" is the right term. We want to make sure we have no vitamin deficiencies that prevent our body and brain from functioning at its best.
My Vitamins for Memory page explains the basics. But here is my thinking on this and what I do:
My favorite Multivitamin
I take one multivitamin a day with a meal. This helps protect against mild vitamin deficiencies that might occur periodically.
I also take one B-complex vitamin. The B vitamins are involved in the health of neurons, your brain's nerve pathways. B vitamins also help in the production of red blood cells which carry oxygen, an important nutrient for your brain.
I take a Vitamin C supplement (1000mg a day) to help protect my brain from free radicals. These are naturally occurring bad chemicals that can damage brain tissue.
Finally, I also take a tablespoon of liquid fish oil
each day (Carlson brand). Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids that are critical to brain function.
There are many other vitamins/supplements you may have heard about such as Acetyl L-Carnitine, CoQ10, DMAE, L-Glutamine, etc. My Vitamins and Memory
page gives details about 17 of these if you want to read about them.
The ones I've tried were accompanied by a lot of advertising hype about how great they are, but to be honest I never noticed much improvement. They might have some small effect but it didn't change my life or anything.
Once exception is over-the-counter L-Tyrosine. I find that 1,000mg in the morning on an empty stomach taken with a B-complex vitamin does improve my concentration noticeably for several hours. The downside is that it tends to ruin my sleep so I don't take that one very often.
Other Brain Boosters
For heightened brain function and physical and mental energy, give your body what it really needs:
Restful sleep nightly.
Intense aerobic cardio exercise 20 minutes every day.
A lean, natural, healthy diet. Eliminate processed foods, starchy foods, eat more fresh food, especially lean protein and dark, leafy vegetables, drink lots of water or green tea, no sodas.
Mental exercise. Play intensive brain games at least 15 minutes a day. Challenge your brain in other ways too - learn a foreign language; learn to play a musical instrument; meditate.
When I consistently follow those steps on a daily basis I enjoy heightened mental and physical energy and improved concentration and memory. When I slack off my mental and physical energy drops noticeably.
Vitamins and supplements have their place, but they are not the main part of the answer.
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