The vitamins listed here are absolutely essential for your child’s brain, and it’s highly likely your child doesn’t have enough. People with psychiatric disorders commonly have physical problems that are symptoms of vitamin deficiency. Take digestive problems, for example–low levels of B vitamins cause digestive disorders, especially B12.
“One of the most common deficiencies seen in patients with mental disorders is B vitamins”*
B1 – Thiamine helps neurons to send electrical signals. A proper level in the blood stream wards off depression. B1 is found in beans, asparagus, beef, oranges, sunflower seeds, oats, and green peas.
B6 prevents memory loss, improves memory, and helps reduce depression, and increase hemoglobin in the blood which supplies oxygen to the body and brain. B6 is found in sunflower seeds, fish, poultry, bananas, leafy greens, sweet potato
B9 – Folic acid helps in formation of nerve tissue, or the neurons in the brain. B9 is found in spinach, asparagus, beans, avocado, lentils, and broccoli.
B12 is needed for the myelin sheath that covers and protects neurons, and signs of deficiency are bowel and stomach problems. Probiotics for gut health are helpful, but so is sufficient B12. It is found in seafood, eggs, cheese, leafy greens, milk, and red meat.
All vitamins are best obtained through food, not pills.
Vitamin C – Ascorbic acid regulates the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, and protects the brain against oxidative stress, which is when there are too many “free radicals” (one kind of chemical), and too few “antioxidants” (another kind of chemical). Vitamin C is found in citrus, tomato, kiwi, strawberry, mango, pineapple, cantaloupe, and green vegetables.
Calcium is an actual nerve cell messenger. It controls how signals pass between neurons. Calcium is found in dairy (milk, hard cheese, and yogurt), sardines and salmon, beans and lentils, almonds, collard greens, tofu, and figs.
Magnesium is essential for many chemicals in the brain and body. It promotes the metabolism of B vitamins as well as signal transmission between neurons. Magnesium calms people. It is found in nuts, pumpkin seeds, black beans, avocado, brown rice, and leafy green vegetables.
Zinc helps regulate the electrical signals between neurons. It is found in pumpkin seeds, beef, shrimp, nuts, chocolate, wheat germ, and oysters.
Vitamin D is essential because it directs the production of neurotransmitters, nerve growth, and nerve connections. Lack of Vitamin D is a common problem in people with psychiatric disorders. (Did you know that ~75% of individuals who are hospitalized for mental illness have severe Vitamin D deficiency?) The best forms are from egg yolks, milk with vitamin D, and sunlight. Supplements have some benefit, too.
See the list of brain foods in this article, The Brain Diet for Troubled Kids.
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