B-Complex Vitamins Support Brain Health, May Fight Cognitive Decline

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • As someone who has relative who have had dementia, I am constantly trying to come up with ways to be proactive in avoiding this disease. Therefore, I am very interested in one of the areas that researchers are studying that involves the diet's role in protecting the brain.


    Scientistics are exploring whether nutritional deficiencies in the elderly may lead to degeneration in the brain. In a 2010 literature review, researchers pointed to previous studies that suggest that an intervention focused on nutrition that targets multiple aspects of the neurodegenerative process seen in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease offers the greatest therapeutic potential.

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    One such group of nutrients is the B-complex vitamins. These vitamins help the nervous system function properly and also provide necessary support for brain function. These vitamins help the body convert carbohydrates into glucose which is used to produce energy in order to fuel the body. Additionally, these nutrients help the body metabolize fats and protein.

    Therefore, for your reading (and dining) pleasure I offer a list of the various B vitamins, a description of their role in your health as well as the best dietary sources of each.

    • Vitamin B1, known as thiamine or thiamin, strengthens the immune system and improves the body’s ability to withstand stressful conditions. The recommended amount is between 10-100 milligrams; requirements increase if you are eating a diet that’s high in carbs and sugars. While this vitamin is found in most foods, the richest sources include sunflower seeds, navy beans, black beans, barley, dried peas, green peas, lentils, pinto beans, oats and lima beans.
    • Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is important for producing energy for the body and also serves as an oxidant to offset damage caused by free radicals. The recommended amount is 10-400 milligrams. While you can get this vitamin in a well-balanced diet, foods that are especially rich in riboflavin include soybeans, spinach, tempeh, yogurt, cremini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, almonds, turkey and cow’s milk. Additionally, flours and cereal are often fortified with this vitamin.
    • Vitamin B3, which is known as niacin, is important for energy production, the repair of DNA and as an antioxidant to protect the body from free radicals that can damage the body’s tissues. The recommend amount of this vitamin is 50-100 milligrams. Foods that are rich in this vitamin are tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, peanuts, shrimp and brown rice.
    • Vitamin B5 – also known as pantothenic acid – is critical for the body’s energy metabolism. The recommended amount is 10-100 milligrams. This vitamin can be found in most foods, but the richest sources are shiitake mushrooms, avocados, sweet potatoes, lentils, dried peas, chicken, cremini mushrooms, turkey, broccoli and yogurt.
    • Vitamin B6, which is also known as pyridoxine, is needed for the production of neurotransmitters that send signals throughout the brain. The recommended amount is 10-50 milligrams. Foods that are rich in this vitamin include tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, spinach and bananas.
    • Vitamin B9, which is known as folate or folic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin.  This vitamin supports human growth and development, normal nerve functioning and brain health. This vitamin also is believed to help slow memory decline that is often associated with aging and may help protect against dementia. The recommended amount is 400-800 micrograms. Foods that are excellent sources of folate include romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, calf’s liver, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, lentils, black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans and pinto beans.
    • Vitamin B12, known as cobalamin, is critical for the production of multiple neurotransmitters, especially serotonin. Having low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to nerve damage. The recommended amount is 20-1,000 micrograms. Foods that are rich sources of vitamin B12 include sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, scallops, shrimp, beef, yogurt and cow’s milk.
    • Biotin plays a key role in the metabolism of fat and sugar. The recommended amount is 30-100 micrograms. Foods that rich in biotin include peanuts, almonds, sweet potatoes, eggs, onion, oats, tomatoes, carrots, walnuts and salmon.
    • Choline provides support to brain function (including memory), the nervous system and cardiovascular function. The recommended amount is 50-200 milligrams. This vitamin can be found in shrimp, eggs, scallops, chicken, turkey, cod, tuna, salmon, beef and collard greens.

    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

  • George Mateljan Foundation. (ND). World’s healthiest foods.

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    Kamphuis, P.J. & Scheltens, P. (2010). Can nutrients prevent or delay onset of Alzheimer’s disease?  The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

    University of Maryland Medical Center. (2013). Vitamin B1 (thiamine).

    University of Maryland Medical Center. (2013). Vitamin B2 (riboflavin).

    Weil, A. (2014). Vitamin B9 – folate.

    Whole Living. (2005). The benefits of B vitamins.

Published On: May 22, 2014