10 Of The Best Nutrients To Help Boost Memory

Over the last few years, more and more research has been conducted about how the foods we eat affect brain health. It has been clear for years that eating foods high in trans fats and sugar are bad for our health, but it’s recently been proven that these foods are bad for our brains as well. In a world full of fast food and pre-made dishes, how can you tell what’s good for your brain and what you should stay away from? Below are 10 nutrients that can help to improve memory as well as prevent memory problems.

1. Omega 3

Omega 3 has been shown to actually protect our brains from deteriorating and improve memory and concentration.[1][2][3]Getting enough Omega 3 can make a big difference as we age, which is why it’s important to introduce Omega 3 rich foods into your diet.

What should you eat? Oily fish, like salmon or tuna, are a great way to make sure you’re getting enough of these essential Omega 3 vitamins to help you improve your memory and protect your brain. There are also different kinds of Omega 3 supplement pills available that offer you the same vitamins without a meal.

2. Iron+Vit C

Iron is a very important mineral that our bodies need in order to function properly. It helps improve memory, attention, and cognitive performance.[4][5]Much of the iron that we receive from foods needs extra help getting absorbed by our bodies, which is why it’s recommended to eat vitamin C along with your serving of iron.[6]Vitamin C helps our bodies absorb the iron we consume, making each gram of iron work more efficiently to help improve your memory.

What should you eat? Legumes, like lentils, soybeans, peas, and peanuts, are all high in iron. Certain meat also has especially high amounts of iron, like liver or red meats. Shellfish, like mussels and oysters are great sources of iron. Eat your serving of iron with vitamin C, like orange juice or tomatoes for optimal absorption.

3. Antioxidants

Antioxidants help our brains by cleansing it of the free radicals that are produced naturally. Free radicals accumulate as you age, and affect your memory and cognition levels which is why it is so important to get a healthy dose of antioxidants to neutralize them.[7]

What should you eat? Antioxidants can be found in a variety of foods, most commonly in berries and some other fruits. Get a good serving of blueberries, strawberries, black currant, etc. at least a few times a week to neutralize the free radicals and improve memory in the long-run.

4. Zinc

Our brains need zinc to help the neurons communicate with each other. It’s been shown that a deficient amount of zinc in the brain can cause memory impairment, which is why it’s important.[8]

What should you eat? Oysters, spinach, nuts, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, cocoa. There are a lot of foods that have high levels of zinc. Incorporate some of these into your daily diet to get the memory improving effects that zinc has to offer!

5. Vitamin E

There is scientific evidence that suggests vitamin E can be of benefit to the mind and memory.[9]Although a study has found that high amounts of vitamin E can help people with mid-level Alzheimer’s disease, you should be able to get an adequate amount of vitamin E from food.

What should you eat? Leafy greens, like spinach and kale, as well as avocado, sunflower seeds, almonds and olive oil are all good sources of Vitamin E. Try to get a few servings of one of these foods at least once a day to help keep your brain from facing cognitive decline and memory loss.

6. Vitamin B

Vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid all help control levels of homocysteine,[10]an amino acid that has been associated with poor memory and increased risk of dementia.[11] Vitamin B-12 deficiency is quite common in vegetarians and older adults.

What should you eat? Good sources of vitamin B12 and B6 are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and soybeans. Good sources of folic acid are leafy vegetables, asparagus, avocado, beets, broccoli, wheat germ and chickpeas.

7. Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a super-vitamin that helps to improve memory, cognitive ability, and learning. It’s been shown that Alzheimer’s patients consumed less vitamin K than people without.

What should you eat? Broccoli and leafy greens. Broccoli is very high in vitamin K. It is versatile and can be eaten in a variety of ways.


8. Caffeine

A study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience explains how caffeine has a positive effect on our long-term memory. Part of how caffeine works is how it blocks a chemical called adenosine, which is what helps you feel awake and alert, and can also help improve memory.

What should you eat? Coffee and tea. Remember that coffee can make you dehydrated, so it’s important to drink water as well.

9. Water

Our brains are made up of up to 85% water, which is why it can be sensitive to little changes. As little as 2% water loss can cause memory loss and weaken other cognitive functions (concentration, attention, learning, processing speed, etc.)

What should you eat? Besides drinking lots of water, eat foods with a high water content, like celery, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.
Drink More Water Infographic

Image Source: Staying Healthy

10. Fats/Oils

Unsaturated fats, or the “good” fats, can be great for our brains. Getting enough of these fats keeps the brain working well and have been proven to help improve memory and prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

What should you eat? The general consensus is that a Mediterranean diet is the best for improving memory. Salmon, olive oil, and nuts all contain unsaturated fats that can help improve memory.

About The Author

Cristina Nafría is a specialist in neuropsychology, research, and cognitive rehabilitation at CogniFit. She is passionate about neuroscience, and provides clinical health-research related topics to a wide audience.