The brain is one of the most energy-intensive organs in the human body, using up at least half of all the sugar energy in the body since sugar is the most efficient fuel for the body. Thus, sugar is a very important brain food, and with that being the case, a lack of sugar in your diet can lead to serious harm to your brain, resulting in diminished attention and degenerative cognitive function. However, too much sugar in your diet can also destroy your brain by making you more susceptible to depression and dementia, so please take your ice cream and soft drinks in moderate consumption. Sugar isn’t the only ingredient important to a healthy brain, however, so we’re going to look at a few other ingredients your brain literally can’t live without.
Vitamin A is important for learning and memory, in addition to being essential for good vision by protecting the cornea. The best sources of Vitamin A come from ox and chicken liver, as much as 9,000 µg and 16,000 µg per 100 g respectively. Eggs are the next best source at 350 µg per 100 g, and this is mostly in the yolk. Animal meat provides only about 30 µg per 100 g, about the same as milk, although full cream milk powder provides about 100 µg per 100 ml when prepared according to instructions. Fish aren’t as good at providing Vitamin A as they only contain about 20–30 µg per 100 g. Plants don’t actually contain Vitamin A, but they contain carotenoids which must then be converted to a form of Vitamin A that our bodies can use called retinol, and it’s 12–24 times harder for the body to absorb Vitamin A from plants than from animal products.
Vitamin B12 is responsible for many, many processes in the body, including synthesising DNA, RNA, red blood cells, and the insulation for the brain circuitry called myelin. B12 deficiency leads to a lot of problems like anaemia, psychosis, depression, memory problems, and even death. Once again, animal live r is the best source. Chicken liver contains about 19 µg per 100 g. For comparison, adults are recommended to have between 2–3 µg of Vitamin B12 a day. Other good sources include clams (99 µg per 100 g), sardines (9 µg per 100 g), and salmon (3 µg per 100 g).
Vitamin K2, specifically in the form of MK-4, is essential for supporting the health and function of brain cells. Apart from the brain, Vitamin K2 is also important for other parts of the body such as the heart, bones, kidneys, and even for preventing cancer. Natto, Japanese fermented soybeans, contains a very high amount of Vitamin K2 at 775 µg per 100 g, although it is in the form of MK-7 which has not been shown to be as effective as MK-4. Chicken liver (I don’t like it one bit, but it is essentially a multivitamin brain food) contains 14 µg per 100 g. Chicken wings, on the other hand, contain about 25 µg per 100 g, which is slightly more than the 24 µg per 100 g that chicken thigh offers, but it doesn’t beat chicken drumsticks which contain 35.7 µg per 100 g. For comparison, the daily recommended intake for Vitamin K is between 90 µg per day for women and 120 µg per day for men; there is no specific recommended daily intake for Vitamin K2.
Iodine deficiency causes intellectual disability since it is critical for brain development and maintenance, but thankfully it is very rare thanks to the widespread availability of iodised table salt. Just don’t take too much salt and you’ll be fine.
Iron helps the brain produce neurotransmitters. It also plays a significant role in attention, long term and short term memory, and cognitive performance. Chicken liver (I swear, I have no intention of promoting chicken liver at all, but it is a fact that liver is high in most, if not all the nutrients required for the brain) contains 12.9 mg of iron for every 100 g. Red meat, such as ground beef, provides around 2.7 mg of iron for every 100 g. Canned sardines are slightly higher, providing 2.9 mg of iron for every 100 g. What about plant sources of iron? Unfortunately, the type of iron found in plants is a lot more difficult to absorb than heme iron, which is the type of iron found in animal foods, so even if you take lentils (6.5 mg per 100 g) or spinach (2.7 mg per 100 g), they’re not comparable to iron intake from animal products.
So those are just some of the types of brain food that you absolutely need in order to keep your head healthy. If you’re looking for chicken liver, I’m not very good with that, but if you’re looking for salmon, I know a place to get some great salmon! Hit me up and I’ll tell you where to get some of the best ingredients from the above. Ever heard of Ohana360?