Nutrients that support memory, sleep and mood
Omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins are good for the memory
Did you know that about 60 % of the dry weight of the brain is fat? A significant part of this is the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. The brain needs fatty acids from nutrition in order to function properly. Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA affect neurotransmitters which act as messengers in the brain activity. DHA supports sight, memory and the brain areas affecting learning whereas EPA affects for example the transferring of messages between the neurons. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fatty fishes such as salmon, as well as fish oils.
B vitamins are sometimes called neuro vitamins because they are necessary for brain functions. Especially vitamin B12 is known to have an effect on memory and brain functions. Vitamin B12 deficiency can show symptoms as memory problems, insomnia and depression. Vitamin B12 can only be acquired from animal-based sources such as meat, fish and dairy, so vegetarians and vegans should add a vitamin B12 supplement to their diet.
Melatonin helps with sleep problems
Melatonin is a hormone which the body produces naturally. Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland from where it is released to blood circulation. Darkness increases the production of melatonin which is why it is produced the most during the night. When eyes are exposed to light, the production of melatonin is inhibited instead. Melatonin causes sleepiness and contributes to the time taken to fall asleep.
Melatonin can also be used as a dietary supplement to treat insomnia. Typical dosage is 1–3 milligrams but stronger melatonin products also exist.
Nutrients that affect mood
Nutrients can also affect brain processes such as neurotransmitters and transmission, and thus, mood. Nutrients and herbs that help to balance the nervous system are for example ashwagandha and vitamins B6 and B12. Ashwagandha has gained a lot of popularity over the years as a stress-relieving herb. Ashwagandha helps to lower cortisol, known as the stress hormone, thus balancing the nervous system.
Nutrients that help to increase focus and alertness and elevate mental energy include for example caffeine (especially when paired with L-theanine such as in green tea), ginseng and guarana.