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Vitamins for Brain Health

The brain is composed of five parts: the pituitary gland, cerebellum, hypothalamus, cerebrum and brain stem. Your brain, along with your nervous system, control functions through the processing of signals to other parts of the body. To help keep your brain healthy and prevent the formation of disorders or conditions that may harm the brain, consider supplementing your diet with specific vitamins.

Vitamin C is water-soluble. This means that it is not stored inside your body, so you should have an adequate supply of it in your diet. Vitamin C is essential for brain health as it helps to protect your brain from free radicals. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that free radicals are unstable compounds that form when your body converts food into energy. A build-up of free radicals may harm the brain, turning it brittle and possibly contributing to the development of brain cancer. Vitamin C can be found in foods such as cabbage, blueberries, red peppers, cooked leafy greens, pineapples and oranges.

Vitamin D is manufactured when the body is exposed to sunlight. MedlinePlus reports that 10 to 15 minutes in the sun, three times a week is enough for your body to produce adequate amounts. Inadequate amounts were found to increase the risk of dementia, according to a study published July 12, 2010 in the "Archives of Internal Medicine." This study, detailed in the Businessweek article "Vitamins D, E Might Help Maintain Brain Health," also indicated that vitamin D may prevent Parkinson's disease and help maintain normal brain health. Another finding of the study showed that about 60 percent of individuals with a vitamin D deficiency experienced a decline in thinking, memory and learning. Rich sources of vitamin D include cheese, oysters, fish and fortified milk.

Vitamin E is another antioxidant vitamin, also helping to protect your brain from free radical damage. It is important for the production of red blood cells, which are essential for transferring oxygen to the brain and other cells throughout your body. The Businessweek article explains that vitamin E is also important for maintaining brain health, as it helps to reduce the pathogenesis of dementia and may also improve the health of your brain cells. Good food sources of vitamin E include corn, spinach, wheat germ and sunflower seeds.

Vitamin A aids your body in dealing with stress, which can have negative effects on your brain function. Like vitamins C and E, it is also an antioxidant, according to MedlinePlus, and therefore provides free radical protection for the brain. Good sources of vitamin A include winter squashes, pumpkin, liver, halibut, cheese, eggs, carrots, fish oil, spinach and broccoli.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.