TABLE 1 | Select nutrients that affect cognitive function

From the following article:

Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function

Fernando Gómez-Pinilla

Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9, 568-578 (July 2008)


NutrientEffects on cognition and emotionFood sources
Omega-3 fatty acids (for example, docosahexaenoic acid)Amelioration of cognitive decline in the elderly148; basis for treatment in patients with mood disorders80; improvement of cognition in traumatic brain injury in rodents81; amelioration of cognitive decay in mouse model of Alzheimer's disease149, 150Fish (salmon), flax seeds, krill, chia, kiwi fruit, butternuts, walnuts
CurcuminAmelioration of cognitive decay in mouse model of Alzheimer's disease123; amelioration of cognitive decay in traumatic brain injury in rodents89Turmeric (curry spice)
FlavonoidsCognitive enhancement in combination with exercise in rodents92; improvement of cognitive function in the elderly151Cocoa, green tea, Ginkgo tree, citrus fruits, wine (higher in red wine), dark chocolate
Saturated fatPromotion of cognitive decline in adult rodents4; aggravation of cognitive impairment after brain trauma in rodents88; exacerbation of cognitive decline in aging humans3Butter, ghee, suet, lard, coconut oil, cottonseed oil, palm kernel oil, dairy products (cream, cheese), meat
B vitaminsSupplementation with vitamin B6, vitamin B12 or folate has positive effects on memory performance in women of various ages152; vitamin B12 improves cognitive impairment in rats fed a choline-deficient diet153Various natural sources. Vitamin B12 is not available from plant products
Vitamin DImportant for preserving cognition in the elderly154Fish liver, fatty fish, mushrooms, fortified products, milk, soy milk, cereal grains
Vitamin EAmelioration of cognitive impairment after brain trauma in rodents102; reduces cognitive decay in the elderly119Asparagus, avocado, nuts, peanuts, olives, red palm oil, seeds, spinach, vegetable oils, wheatgerm
CholineReduction of seizure-induced memory impairment in rodents155; a review of the literature reveals evidence for a causal relationship between dietary choline and cognition in humans and rats156Egg yolks, soy beef, chicken, veal, turkey liver, lettuce
Combination of vitamins (C, E, carotene)Antioxidant vitamin intake delays cognitive decline in the elderly157Vitamin C: citrus fruits, several plants and vegetables, calf and beef liver. Vitamin E: see above
Calcium, zinc, seleniumHigh serum calcium is associated with faster cognitive decline in the elderly158; reduction of zinc in diet helps to reduce cognitive decay in the elderly159; lifelong low selenium level associated with lower cognitive function in humans160Calcium: milk, coral. Zinc: oysters, a small amount in beans, nuts, almonds, whole grains, sunflower seeds. Selenium: nuts, cereals, meat, fish, eggs
CopperCognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer's disease correlates with low plasma concentrations of copper161Oysters, beef/lamb liver, Brazil nuts, blackstrap molasses, cocoa, black pepper
IronIron treatment normalizes cognitive function in young women162Red meat, fish, poultry, lentils, beans

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