Vitamins can be advantageous in stimulating the brain and promoting optimal brain function. In addition, mental processes including memory, concentration and clarity can be improved, notes Herbal Supplements Guide. A healthy diet is essential to optimal brain function and optimal body function when studying. A diet based on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and good fats provides many health benefits, including improved memory and concentration. Research shown certain nutrients, in particular, can support and fuel brain function.
The B vitamins protect neurons, brain cells, by breaking down homocysteine, an amino acid toxic to the cells of the central nervous system, notes Help Guide. B Vitamins are also involved in making red blood cells which carry oxygen. The brain functions best with an ample supply of oxygen and nutrients from the blood. Folic acid, vitamin B-9, aids in red blood cell production and helps improve mental clarity, notes Herbal Supplements Guide. Vitamin B-6 is also important. It supports and maintains numerous body functions, and has been shown to aid in memory retention and brain health, notes Herbal Supplements Guide. The best sources of B vitamins from food, according to Help Guide, are dark leafy greens, broccoli, melons, black beans, asparagus, strawberries, legumes, citrus fruits and soybeans.
Free radicals are highly destructive molecules that can damage the brain. Antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C and E, as well as beta carotene, safely neutralize free radicals, notes Help Guide. The brain requires a constant and abundant supply of oxygen, making it a location of abundant free radicals as well: They are formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules, notes Health Guidance. Damage to the brain by free radicals results in memory loss and decreased cognitive ability. In the long term, free radical damage can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, notes Health Guidance. In addition, antioxidants improve the oxygen flow in the brain and body. In food, good sources of antioxidants are found in berries, red tomatoes, green tea, sweet potatoes, broccoli, nuts, citrus fruits and seeds, notes Help Guide.
Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest species of trees, and its leaves have been extensively studied, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. In both Europe and the United States, ginkgo supplements are some of the biggest-selling herbal medications. Traditionally, ginkgo has been used to enhance memory and treat circulatory disorders; the University of Maryland Medical Center notes that both of these uses are supported by scientific studies. Ginkgo also contains flavonoids and terpenoids, thought to have strong antioxidant effects. The Mayo Clinic notes that there is promising evidence for the use of ginkgo for memory enhancement in healthy subjects.