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I'm a Doctor and This Vitamin Keeps Your Brain Young

Five vitamins that can help improve brain health. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

We take care of ourselves in so many ways, but brain health, which is a critical part of our overall well-being, is often overlooked. "Brain health matters for your body, your mood, your personality, and, in short, what makes you 'you," Dr. Jacob Hascalovici MD, PhD as the Clearing Chief Medical Officer tells us. "A healthy brain helps you maintain stable, positive moods, supports good decision-making, keeps you independent for longer as you age, lets you relate better to others, and helps you feel like yourself. Of course, it also helps you continue working or enjoying your hobbies, too," he adds. There's many ways to improve brain health, including taking certain vitamins, according to Dr. Hascalovici who reveals which ones actually help make a difference. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What Happens to the Brain as We Age

Woman stretching skin on her face and looking at the mirror.

Dr. Hascalovici says, "Some amount of brain aging is normal, and shouldn't be a cause for too much distress. This kind of aging often appears as occasional forgetfulness, momentary "slips" when you may "lose" certain words, slower processing, concentration issues, and a little more trouble with multitasking. You may sometimes feel sleepier or more tired, which could be linked to aging or to sleep disturbances. Though it's not normal, it is also possible to develop Alzheimer's or dementia. Red flags for these conditions and for cognitive decline in general include increasingly severe lapses in memory, trouble recognizing familiar people, inability to perform everyday tasks, feeling disoriented, trouble making decisions, and lapses in common sense."


Besides Vitamins, How Can People Keep Their Brain Young?

A woman squeezes and pulls your skin.

Dr. Hascalovici shares, "Depression, exhaustion, sleeplessness, and stress can all lead to cognitive issues, so it's important to reflect on your lifestyle and do what you can to avoid repeat stressors. In general, sleeping and eating well will help prevent brain problems and keep your mind sharp. Mental stimulation, such as learning a new language, making new friends, or volunteering, also helps your brain health."


Vitamin B3

Smiling young lady looking at her vitamins

Dr. Hascalovici explains, "Vitamin B3 (also called niacin) may help keep brain fog and certain other cognitive issues at bay. It has been linked to promoting brain health and function in those at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, though this is still being studied. Nuts, seeds, and bananas, as well as many animal products, potatoes, and mushrooms contain niacin. "Niacin flush," when the skin reddens and itches, may develop with high doses of supplemental niacin; headaches may also occur."


Vitamin B12

young woman taking pill
Shutterstock / New Africa

"Vitamin B12 is considered essential for nerve health and could be important for memory as well — low levels can cause peripheral neuropathy, problems with balance, and, in severe cases, memory impairment," says Dr. Hascalovici. "Vitamin B12 deficiency can be a challenge particularly for vegetarians and vegans, since this vitamin is found in fish, many meats, and dairy. High doses of vitamin B12 could give you headaches, nausea, or fatigue."



Smiling woman taking a pill.

According to Dr. Hascalovici, "Beta-carotene may help stave off dementia while promoting cognitive function. It can be taken as a supplement, though many people get beta-carotene naturally from colorful natural foods. Bruising, loose stools, and joint pain are possible side effects of beta-carotene supplementation."


Vitamin C

vitamin d in the sun

Dr. Hascalovici tells us, "Vitamin C can help cognitive health, particularly for those who suffer from low moods, including depression. It's important to speak to your doctor first before starting vitamin C though, as it is possible to overdose or to experience cramps, stomach upset, or fatigue, among other side effects."



eggs and toast breakfast

Dr. Hascalovici states, "Contained in dairy foods, chicken, and eggs, this amino acid supports your body in creating more neurotransmitters, which can help you feel more alert and energetic. It appears to work best for people whose ability to produce neurotransmitters has already been lowered (so, people who are stressed or have been thinking hard for a long time)."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather