The ability to stay focused depends on healthy brain functioning. In order for processes such as attention, focus and alertness to occur, the cells of the brain need certain vitamins to provide the fuel needed for work. Therefore, diet is a critical aspect of brain health and consequently the ability to stay focused.
The B vitamins are an important group of vitamins to consider for brain health. A study published in 2010 in the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" found that a group of healthy college students benefited from a supplement containing a combination of B-vitamins including the B vitamins B-6, B-3 and folic acid. This supplement boosted their levels of alertness and focus. Although the mixture consisted mostly of B vitamins, it did include 60 mg of caffeine as well as 500 mg of L-tyrosine. L-tyrosine is an amino acid, or compound that brain cells use to make signaling proteins.
Vitamin D and Calcium
Neurons, or brain cells, possess receptors for vitamin D indicating that this nutrient is essential for brain health, according to an article published in 2007 in the "Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics." Vitamin D gene expression is also seen within brain tissue. This means that vitamin D can attach itself to DNA and influence which proteins from a genetic code are expressed. Calcium also does this in the brain affecting communication in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is an area of the brain that uses attention to select what is stored into memory, according to an article published in 2009 in "The Journal of Physiology."
Along with the other water-soluble vitamins in the B group, vitamin C is also important to cognitive function. A study published in January 2007 in "The Journal of International Medical Research" found that vitamin C was among the most important vitamins for maintaining healthy brain performance. In fact, the brain consumes more vitamin C than anywhere else in the body. Further, vitamin C cannot be recycled so it must constantly be replenished through dietary intake. Since the brain has a high oxygen consumption rate, it produces free radicals as a byproduct. Free radicals are compounds that can damage brain tissue. Vitamin C helps to protect brain tissue by scavenging these free radicals thereby allowing the brain to perform optimally.
- Springer Link: "Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology": Metabolic and Structural Role of Thiamine in Nervous Tissues
- "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition": The Effects of Acute CRAM Supplementation on Reaction Time and Subjective Measures of Focus and Alertness in Healthy College Students
- "The International Journal of Medical Research":The Influence of Micronutrients on Cognitive Function and Performance
- "The Journal of Physiology": What is Remembered? Role of Attention on the Encoding and Retrieval of Hippocampal Representations
- "Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics": Is Vitamin D Important for Preserving Cognition? A Positive Correlation of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentration with Cognitive Function