12 vitamins and minerals that affect brain function

In 2007, Canadian researchers reviewed several studies that had explored the connection between nutrition and mental health. As part of their review, they summarized the specific vitamins and minerals that affect brain function.

Here is that summary. It’s interesting to note that our EMPowerplus contains all of these vitamins and minerals.

Brain function
Folate, folic acid (Vitamin B9)
  • Can heighten serotonin function by slowing destruction of tryptophan
  • Cofactor for enzymes that convert tryptophan into serotonin and convert tyrosine into norepinephrine/noradrenalin
  • Helps form compounds involved in brain energy metabolism
  • Involved in synthesis of monoamine neurotransmitters
Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)
  • Helps synthesize monoamine neurotransmitters
  • Helps maintain myelin sheaths on nerves for normal nerve conductance.
  • Functions in folate metabolism
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
  • Involved in synthesis of acetylcholine, GABA, and glutamate
  • Can mimic action of acetylcholine in the brain
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
  • Plays a basic role in synthesis of many neurotransmitters
  • Deficiency tends to selectively reduce brain production of serotonin and GABA
Vitamin E
  • Protects cell membranes from damage by free radicals
  • May play a role in reducing brain amyloid beta peptide accumulation
  • Plays essential roles in structural integrity of cell membranes, cell signalling, and nerve impulse transmission
  • Major source of methyl groups for methylation reactions
  • Important intracellular messenger and cofactor for enzymes
  • Important for release of neurotransmitters and several forms of chemical signalling between cells.
  • Primarily known for its function in glucose and lipid metabolism, which may account for its role in mood
  • Essential cofactor for production of ATP energy in the brain.
  • Ensures there is sufficient oxygen in the brain for oxidative metabolism.
  • Helps produce serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine
  • Increases binding of dopamine and serotonin to proteins in frontal cortex
  • Helps in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats to produce ATP
  • Helps in the synthesis of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and proteins.
  • Important for the active transport of ions (such as potassium and calcium) across cell membranes and for cell signalling.
  • Essential for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body
  • The most abundant intracellular trace element, with roles extending into protein synthesis, as well as structure and regulation of gene expression
  • Cofactor for over 200 different enzymes; present in over 300 metalloenzymes involved in virtually all aspects of metabolism
  • In the brain, serves in neurons and glial cells. Certain zinc-enriched regions (e.g., hippocampus) are especially responsive to dietary zinc deprivation, which causes brain dysfunctions, such as learning impairment and olfactory dysfunction
  • Essential trace mineral which is part of antioxidant enzymes that protect cells from effects of free radicals.