Five Nutrients to Improve Brain Function, Memory and Cognition

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    Most of people try to watch our diet and eat list of food nutrients to get proper healthy. We care about heart health through exercise and gut health through healthy foods, but how often do we think about brain health?

    As a person ages, they may need additional brain support. Aging can affect the brain by increasing the processing time and reaction speed, reducing the number of connections between brain cells and impairing memory.

    Fortunately, there are 5 list of food nutrients that help support brain function, memory, and cognition: phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine, thiamine, lutein, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

    List of food Nutrients Phosphatidylcholine

    If we talk about supporting memory and cognitive functions, then  phosphatidylcholine is in the first place . Because phosphatidylcholine is one of mammals’ most prevalent biological lipids, this is the case. Lipids are organic motessimilar as fats, that are undoable in water.

    As a biological lipid, phosphatidylcholine is an essential component of cells, making up the majority of cell membranes. It is formed in the body from choline obtained from food.

    An essential nutrient, Choline is a component of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which plays a role in memory, information processing, and phosphatidylcholine production. Choline is found in egg yolk, soy, chicken, beef, and other foods.

    Phosphatidylcholine  plays many important roles in the body, including heart, liver, and even gut health, but Phosphatidylcholine is especially prominent in supporting memory and cognitive function.

    Phosphatidylcholine may help with memory and cognitive function, according to research. In particular, one study found that low blood levels of phosphatidylcholine are associated with memory impairment and decreased brain function in older people.

    Another study found that higher levels of choline in the diet, and therefore higher body synthesis  of phosphatidylcholine  , improved verbal and visual memory scores in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

    Phosphatidylcholine may also help support memory and intelligence by reducing brain inflammation, which is associated with brain cell degeneration and cognitive decline, according to research. So, one animal experiment showed that phosphatidylcholine helps to reduce systemic or whole-body inflammation in rats, namely inflammation of the brain.

    Further research in rats with a neurodegenerative disease similar to Alzheimer’s revealed that phosphatidylcholine, in combination with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and the omega-3 fatty acids DHA, can help reduce brain inflammation and increase cognition.

    Other research suggests that combining  phosphatidylcholine  with another lipid, phosphatidylserine, can act as an antioxidant for the brain, protecting brain cells from over-activation of the immune system that can lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s.

    List of food Nutrients Phosphatidylserine

    Phosphatidylserine  is another type of biological lipid that can be created from phosphatidylcholine. Like phosphatidylcholine, it helps form cell membranes. Phosphatidylserine is one of the most abundant lipids in the human cerebral cortex, an area of the brain responsible for higher thought processes such as language, thought, memory, and cognition.

    Phosphatidylserine may help support memory and cognitive function in a variety of ways. According to scientific data, phosphatidylserine can improve short-term memory, memorization, cognition, concentration, and even speech. This is thought to be because phosphatidylserine easily crosses the blood-brain barrier, the network of blood vessels and tissues that protects the brain from damaging substances. Because phosphatidylserine crosses the blood-brain barrier so easily, it can help prevent nerve cell damage and degeneration.

    Another experiment showed that  phosphatidylserine  can improve memory and prevent winter blues in the elderly.

    Phosphatidylserine may also be helpful in maintaining cognitive function during times of stress. In one study, participants completed tasks related to cognition under stress, and then they were divided into groups in which they took either a phosphatidylcholine supplement or a placebo. After some time, the subjects again found themselves in a stressful situation and completed the same tasks. The subjects who took the phosphatidylserine supplement were more relaxed than those who took the placebo.

    Scientific evidence  suggests that Phosphatidylserine  may be beneficial for memory and cognition, but research also suggests that Phosphatidylserine may improve other cognitive factors such as mental flexibility and executive function.

    List of food Nutrients Thiamine

    Thiamine , also known as vitamin B1, is a water-soluble vitamin and an essential nutrient that must be obtained from the diet or supplementation. Thiamin is abundant in sources such as green peas, beans, lentils, sunflower seeds, yogurt, and brown rice.

    Thiamine is important for the breakdown and metabolism of carbohydrates and as an auxiliary agent for mitochondrial enzymes (energy producers in the body), but it also plays a large role in neurological health. In particular,  thiamine deficiency has been found to  cause certain neurological diseases such as beriberi, the symptoms of which include muscle pain while walking, decreased sensation in the limbs, and difficulty with language and speech.

    Scientists have also linked low thiamine levels to other cognitive impairments, such as poor memory and nerve damage. What’s more, research suggests that the brain may be particularly vulnerable to thiamine deficiency due to its reliance on mitochondrial energy production.

    Research demonstrates that thiamine can act as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent in the brain, helping to improve memory and cognition. This may be due to  thiamine ‘s ability  to improve brain glucose metabolism, as the brain uses glucose as its main fuel source.

    So, in one study, subjects with mild cognitive decline and mild Alzheimer’s disease were divided into two groups: one received benfotiamine, and the other received a placebo. Benfotiamine  is a synthetic, fat-soluble form of thiamine or vitamin B1 that is more easily absorbed by the body. Benfotiamine-treated subjects experienced less cognitive decline and improved brain glucose metabolism compared to placebo-treated participants.

    In addition, animal studies have shown that taking thiamine and  benfotiamine  helps improve cognitive performance and reduce stress.

    List of food Nutrients Lutein

    Lutein  is a carotenoid. Carotenoids give food a variety of colors ranging from red and orange to yellow. Yellow lutein is found in spinach, cabbage, chicory, bell peppers and other foods. Lutein is what gives egg yolks their characteristic yellow color.

    Lutein is often taken along with  zeaxanthin , as both can be beneficial for eye health. Lutein is sometimes referred to as an eye vitamin or eye pigment due to its potential eye health benefits, including the ability to improve and even prevent conditions such as age-related macular degeneration.

    Lutein may be beneficial for the eyes and, according to research, for memory and cognition. Studies show that adult intake of lutein can lead to increased levels of oxygen in the brain, improved memory and cognitive function, and increased reaction speed.

    Scientific evidence also suggests that increased intake of lutein may improve word and memory retention in older adults. The reason for this effect may be the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of lutein on brain tissue. Given that lutein is the most abundant carotenoid in the brain, this may contribute to lutein’s anti-aging properties.

    Animal experiments show that  lutein  can help improve neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to rewire and evolve based on knowledge and experience, and prevent brain cell degeneration.

    Conversely, lower intakes of lutein result in slower reaction times, poorer memory, and lower scores on the mental state test, which is used to measure levels of cognitive impairment.

    Curiously, when  lutein  is taken in combination with DHA, fluency, memory, and cognitive speed scores improve in adults without cognitive impairment.

    Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

    When it comes to brain health,  DHA  is often one of the main nutrients needed to maintain it. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found in algae and fatty fish, including salmon, herring, and tuna. DHA is the primary fatty acid in the frontal cortex, the region of the brain responsible for higher executive functions and speech.

    Research shows that increasing DHA can improve cognition and memory. One study found that people who took EPA and  DHA supplements had  improved cognition and performance compared to people who took a placebo.

    What’s more, scientific evidence indicates that reduced DHA intake may lead to cognitive decline with aging. Scientists believe this is because  DHA  may help increase brain oxygenation and perfusion, as well as reduce brain inflammation. Animal experiments show that reducing DHA intake or altering  DHA metabolism  can reduce brain neuroplasticity and increase brain inflammation.

    In addition, scientists believe that supplementing with DHA may help the brain perform tasks more easily. For example, one study found that young people who took DHA supplements had better cognitive performance with less brain activity.

    If you want to improve your memory and cognition, try fueling your brain with phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine, thiamine, lutein, and DHA.

    Author: Dr. Candace Mathers

    Dr. Candace Mathers is a certified naturopath. She owns Life Blossom Wellness, a wellness telemedicine and premium personalized service using functional and holistic medicine in suburban Chicago, Illinois. Although Dr. Mathers works with many different conditions, her focus is on mood disorders and optimizing the health of people with Down syndrome. Visit for more information.

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