Do you eat the right foods to feed your brain? Just like the rest of your body, your brain needs carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water to function normally. A key part of supporting brain health is eating a wide variety of “brain foods”.
When it comes to your brain, foods that are high in the following nutrients come out on top:
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Your brain is made of 60% fat. Part of this is from the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that are incorporated into cell membranes to support communication between neurons and control signalling molecules .
EPA and DHA are considered “essential” because they must be consumed through the diet. The body can only make small amounts of them from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. EPA and DHA are needed for the brain to function normally, and getting enough in the diet has important benefits for children, adults, and seniors. DHA is particularly important because it is the main omega-3 found in the brain. It is concentrated in areas that control learning, memory, and emotional well-being .
The oil from cold water fish is one of the best sources of omega-3s. Health Canada recommends that we eat two or more servings of fish per week . Delicious options that are low in mercury include:
- rainbow trout
When eating fresh fish is not practical or you do not like seafood, taking a high quality fish oil or vegan omega-3 oil supplement will help supply the DHA and EPA that your brain needs. Effective supplement choices include the following:
- SeaRich™ Omega-3 provides 1500 mg of EPA and 750 mg of DHA, along with 1000 IU of vitamin D3. It contains the highest quality omega-3 fish oil blended with natural, non-GMO flavours. It is sweetened with monk fruit extract, which has almost zero calories and does not impact blood sugar levels.
- Whole Earth & Sea Pure Food Marine Algae-3 provides 120 mg of EPA and 240 mg of DHA per softgel. This sustainably harvested, fish-free formula is obtained from algae.
- Whole Earth & Sea Pure Food Herring Gold® provides fast-absorption omega-3 phospholipids, omega-3s DHA and EPA, and the nutrients choline and astaxanthin. It is made from 100% sustainably harvested spring-spawning Norwegian herring roe.
Your brain has high oxygen demands and uses about 20% of what you breathe. This makes it particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress – an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants – caused by certain chemicals that may cause cell damage .
You can help support your brain’s antioxidant defense by incorporating a wide variety of antioxidant-rich foods and beverages into your meals and snacks. Fantastic options include:
Blueberries are well known for their high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) activity that neutralizes harmful free radicals and protects the body from oxidative stress. They contain antioxidant polyphenols in their skin, seeds, pulp, and juice. These nutrients help to protect your capillaries and stimulate blood flow throughout your body and brain, which supports cognitive health and memory .
Curcumin is the yellow pigment in turmeric that is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant protection. By preventing oxidative stress, curcumin supports healthy nervous system cells and fights the oxidation of fats within brain tissue [6,7].
CurcuminRich® Memory Optimizer contains high-absorption curcumin with six supercharged botanical extracts. It is specially formulated to support cognitive health, including memory and focus. Its broad spectrum of antioxidants support the maintenance of good health and free radical defense throughout the body.
Red wine is well known for its antioxidant resveratrol, which supports cardiovascular health and circulation by protecting against free radicals . Resveratrol supplements provide an equally beneficial alternative without the alcohol. ResveratrolRich® Super Strength Resveratrol Concentrate provides 250 mg of all-natural trans resveratrol per vegetarian capsule. This high-potency compound is extracted from the skins of red grapes and from purified Japanese knotweed.
Other foods with antioxidants
More wonderful food sources of antioxidants include almonds and sunflower seeds for vitamin E, red peppers and citrus fruits for vitamin C, and green tea for flavonoids and catechins.
3. B Vitamins
The body needs B vitamins to convert carbohydrates, fats, and protein into energy, as well as to support red blood cell formation. They are factors in the maintenance of good health throughout life.
Vitamins B6, B12, and folate (vitamin B9) play important roles in lowering the body’s homocysteine levels, a substance known for increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke . They also support brain health because what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain .
Vitamins B12 and B6 are essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters involved in mood and sleep, such as dopamine and serotonin . When you’re under stress, your body’s demand for B vitamins goes up. It is important to increase your B vitamin intake during times of increased stress to avoid deficiency and stress-related health problems.
Eating a variety of foods that contain B vitamins will help fill your body’s demands. Great options include:
- leafy greens, such as spinach, for folate
- soybeans for vitamin B2
- poultry or sweet potatoes for vitamin B6
- seafood, including sardines, salmon, and shrimp, for vitamin B12
B vitamin supplements are also an effective way to boost your intake. BioCoenzymated™ Active B Complex contains a full-spectrum of eight essential B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, and folate) in their most biologically active forms. This one-a-day, ISURA verified, non-GMO formula is absorbed and used without requiring activation by the liver.
Your brain is the control centre for everything that you do and think. Eating foods that support its function is one of the simplest ways to help maintain your cognitive health and mental well-being throughout life.
 Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: Healthy benefits throughout life. Adv Nutr. 2012; 3(1):1-7.
 Weiser MJ, Butt CM, Mohajeri MH. Docosahexaenoic acid and cognition throughout the lifespan. Nutrients. 2016; 8(2):99.
 Government of Canada. Consumption Advice: Making Informed Choices about Fish. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/food-safety/chemical-contaminants/environmental-contaminants/mercury/mercury-fish.html [Accessed 19th February 2019].
 Beydoun MA, Fanelli-Kuczmarski MT, Kitner-Triolo MH, et al. Dietary antioxidant intake and its association with cognitive function in an ethnically diverse sample of US adults. Psychosom Med. 2015; 77(1):68-82.
 Devore EE, Kang JH, Breteler M, et al. Dietary intake of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Ann Neurol. 2012; 72(1):135-143.
 Daverey A, Agrawal S. Curcumin alleviates oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in astrocytes. Neurosci. 2016; 333:92-103.
 Ng T, Chiam P, Lee T, et al. Curry consumption and cognitive function in the elderly. Am J Epidemiol. 2006; 164(9):898-906.
 Snopek L, Mlcek J, Sochorova L, et al. Contribution of red wine consumption to human health protection. Molecules. 2018; 23(7):E1684.
 Clase C, Ki V, Holden R. Water-soluble vitamins in people with low glomerular filtration rate or on dialysis: A review. Seminars in Dialysis. 2013; 26(5):546-567.
 Porter K, Hoey L, Hughes CF, et al. Causes, consequences and public health implications of low B-vitamin status in ageing. Nutrients. 2016; 8(11):E725.
 Smith AD, Smith SM, de Jager CA, et al. Homocysteine-lowering by B vitamins slows the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2010; 5(9):e12244.