Can Vitamins and Minerals Boost Brain Function?

Explore the hype about cognitive wellness trends.


Eat healthy brain food.

(EZ-Stock Studio /

The field of brain health is at the frontier of modern medicine. Researchers and doctors around the world have been trying to leverage what they know about the human brain into practical solutions for keeping the brain healthy for centuries. In this century, there has been a lot of focus on supplements: vitamins, minerals, and hormones that could potentially give brains a boost. 

Some of the most recommended

It is easy to get lost in the veritable sea of supplements that promise to boost cognitive function. But there are some of vitamins, minerals, and hormones that have been scientifically tested.

According to Forbes, Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for brain development, help reduce inflammation and may lower the risk of cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found naturally in fatty fish, but can also be taken in supplement form. 

Likewise, a 2016 study, publishedin Practical Neurology, showed that, as coffee lovers expect, caffeine does indeed improve cognitive functioning. It improves concentration, increases alertness, and helps alleviate symptoms of depression.

“Caffeine is very popular for cognitive function, as it has demonstrated neuroprotective benefits,” Dr. Susan Hewlin, vice president of research affairs at Radicle Science, told Forbes. 

However, it is important not to take too much caffeine no more than 400 milligrams a day  as it can lead to insomnia, restlessness, and heart palpitations.

In reality a hormone and not a vitamin, vitamin D, is also recommended for brain health. According to Healthshots, vitamin D deficiencies are linked to cognitive impairment and risk of neurodegenerative diseases. A 2017 study, published in Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research, indicates that vitamin D helps maintain cognitive function in the elderly

Check it out
And yet, despite all that was said above, you should proceed with caution. The NYT reports that not all of the claims about various supplements can be scientifically verified. For instance, there are some older studies on ginkgo biloba that indicated that it may help elderly people suffering from dementia, however, newer studies could not replicate those results.

Likewise, L-theanine, an amino acid, has been thought to improve cognition, but there are actually no large and rigorous studies that prove this claim. 

Another element of concern regarding health supplements is that they are not tested or heavily regulated by the FDA. This means that a supplement company can make claims regarding a certain product while those claims are not backed up by the FDA. 

Forbes recommends purchasing only supplements from producers that are certified with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and invest in third party testing. That way you know that the product is safe and effective.

When it comes down to it, the best things a person can do for their cognitive health are to sleep well, eat well, and exercise well. For better or for worse, supplements may be able to help improve cognitive function a little, but there is no magic pill.

How to Tap Into Your Brainwaves
Drinking Tea May Improve Brain Health
7 Ways to Use Neurobics to Exercise Your Brain