How can adults promote good brain health? | Which supplements are worth it?
Adults are often busy and can neglect healthy habits such as exercise, adequate sleep, and optimal nutrient intake. In fact, the amount we spend sleeping is declining, and many of us are sedentary. You may be unaware of the impact of an unhealthy lifestyle on cognitive function or not consider it a top priority as a young to middle-aged adult.
In this article, you will learn why you should care for your brain health as an adult and what could be causing your cognitive health to decline. Then, we address healthy changes to improve your cognitive health for your current and future self. Finally, we discuss which vitamin supplements are worth it for boosting cognition.
Why is cognitive health important for adults?
You might think brain health is not a top priority until you get older, but we found that cognitive health was a top priority in 55% of adults (Revive Active, 2022). In fact, our priorities seem to shift further away from cognitive health as we get older because other concerns, such as joint and bone health, take precedence.
Taking care of cognitive heath before reaching senior years is more important than ever. Moreover, your lifestyle in adulthood can impact your cognitive health down the line. You might also want to stay sharp for work, school or university. Good cognitive health is crucial for staying productive and keeping up with younger peers or children.
What can impact brain health?
The following lifestyle factors can impair cognitive function, including brain fog/lack of mental clarity, poor memory, or low brain power. Knowing what can negatively impact brain health is crucial before you can start to improve it.
- Inadequate sleep – Sleep is essential for memory enhancement. A lack of sleep can affect your ability to recall facts (e.g., for an exam) and episodic memories (e.g., memories of experiences). A good night’s sleep can also improve cognitive performance and insight.
- High stress – Mild stress can improve cognitive performance when the cognitive load is not excessive, but very high pressure impairs memory and logical reasoning. Persistent mild stress, on the other hand, increases vulnerability to mental disturbance and reduces cognition and physiological ageing.
- A poor diet – specific diet protocols can be protective against cognitive decline, while deficiencies in vitamins B6, B12 and folates (vitamin B9) could affect cognition.
- Smoking – Heavy smoking is associated with cognitive decline in middle age, while mild smokers may experience cognitive impairments when withdrawing from nicotine.
- Alcohol – intoxication with alcohol consistently causes impairments in learning and memory. Alcohol can also impact sleep quality, reducing memory consolidation and cognitive processing.
- A sedentary lifestyle – aerobic exercise helps to reduce age-related loss of brain cells, and more sedentary individuals may have reduced cognitive processing than fit individuals.
Some of these factors can affect one another; for example, alcohol can affect your sleep, while your level of physical activity tends to influence your diet. Identify one area that can be improved and start there.
What are some ways to promote brain health?
You can start improving your brain health by improving the above areas. Here are seven expert tips for improving your cognitive health for longevity.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet – the Mediterranean diet may be the most beneficial for preventing cognitive decline. Also, prioritise B vitamins and vitamins D, C, and E. Use brain health supplements to boost your vitamin intake if convenient.
- Stop smoking or vaping – heavy nicotine reliance can affect your cognition
- Reduce or stop drinking - even acute alcohol consumption can reduce memory and cognition. Over half of male Brits drink every week.
- Exercise regularly – Aerobic exercise is effective at maintaining brain health. Regular aerobic exercise for two to four months is adequate for seeing improvements in brain function.
- Optimise sleep – sleep disturbances or deprivation is common in modern society, and the amount we sleep is steadily declining due to social and environmental conditions. We are less dependent on daylight. Try and sleep at least eight hours per night.
- Do something for your mind and body every day – Do something active and mentally stimulating every day. Walk to work, do some yoga or stretch for your body. Read, complete a puzzle or meditate for your mind.
What are the best supplements to improve brain health and memory?
Several vitamins and minerals are essential for brain health, cognitive function, psychological function and nerve health. Optimising your dietary intake for brain support can be challenging, so a dietary supplement with the right ingredients is an excellent way to boost your nutrient intake.
Vitamin B5 and zinc are crucial for mental performance and cognitive health, respectively. Meanwhile, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium and vitamin C all help keep psychological health in check. DHA – the precursor to the omega 3 fatty acid - is also approved for boosting brain health. Finally, vitamin E and vitamin C protect the cells from oxidative stress.
Mastermind is a powdered daily supplement to be mixed with water. It contains DHA, choline, Uridine, and eight other vitamins and minerals for optimal cognitive performance and nerve function. Most Brits have multiple health priorities, with heart health and immunity taking second and third places.
Zest Active is formulated to support healthy brain function, immunity, muscle function and energy levels. This brain health supplement contains all eight B vitamins, vitamin C, choline and the amino acid l-theanine. Zest Active contains all the crucial vitamins and minerals for brain health but conveniently addresses multiple health benefits.
Finally, Meno Active contains 31 ingredients to support menopausal women. The dual action capsule and powder sachet contain three herbal extracts, digestive enzymes, live-friendly bacteria and a B vitamin complex. DHA has been included for brain health.
Shop for cognitive health
- Sleep and Cognition
- Stress and cognition
- Chronic stress, cognitive functioning, and mental health
- The role of diet in cognitive decline
- Smoking and Cognition
- Acute alcohol and cognition: Remembering what it causes us to forget
- Alcohol consumption and sleep quality: a community-based study
- The Influence of Exercise on Cognitive Abilities
- Alcohol Consumption UK.
- Sleep and cognition (2)