Everyone has forgetful moments, but when brain glitches begin to occur more frequently, you may experience brain fog. Brain fog can be symptomatic of an underlying health condition requiring a doctor’s attention. If you're healthy and get brain fog, getting plenty of nutrients, especially the B vitamins, may help prevent or eliminate the problem.
Brain Fog Overview
Brain fog defines a group of symptoms, including mental confusion, difficulty concentrating or processing information, and a memory that isn't up to par. "Fog" is a good term because the condition is often described as the sense of a thick fog interfering with the mind, according to Dr. Isaac Eliaz in the Rodale News. Nutrition has a big impact on your brain, so an unbalanced diet can contribute to brain fog. It’s also a common side effect of chemotherapy, often occurs during menopause and may be caused by several medical conditions, including fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Vitamins to Fight Brain Fog
A deficiency of folate, vitamin B-6, thiamine or niacin can cause confusion or memory problems, so you need all four in your diet to avoid brain fog. Chronic inflammation is linked to brain fog, and diet significantly influences the level of inflammation, reports Eliaz. You can fight that inflammation with vitamin C. High levels of vitamin C are found in your brain, where its antioxidant ability helps prevent inflammation, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. The B vitamins and vitamin C have another role in your brain -- they help make the chemicals used by nerves to communicate. Vitamin B-12 and folate are also vital for normal nerve functioning.
Keep Energy Steady
Your brain may feel foggy when it doesn’t have enough energy. It needs about 130 grams of carbohydrates every day to sustain energy, according to the Institute of Medicine. However, none of those carbs can be converted into energy unless you have all of the B vitamins. If your diet is short in just one B vitamin, your brain cells may not be able to synthesize sufficient energy. If you lack carbs and your body reverts to turning fat into glucose for energy, you’ll still need the B vitamin biotin to support that process.
Planning Your Diet
You can’t get all of the needed vitamins for brain fog from just a few foods. For example, vitamin B-12 is only found in animal-based or fortified foods, the best sources of folate are green leafy vegetables, and niacin comes from legumes and red meat, poultry or fish. Eating a well-balanced diet is the best way to give your brain the nutritional support necessary to avoid brain fog. Fill half your plate with colorful vegetables and fruits, one-fourth with lean protein and the remaining quarter with whole grains. If you do that at every meal, your diet should deliver all the vitamins and energy your brain depends on to work at full capacity. You can also get B vitamins from fortified foods and supplements, which may be needed for vitamin B-12 if you don't eat animal products.
- Rodale News: Five Ways to Clear Brain Fog
- Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrients and Cognitive Function
- Linus Pauling Institute: What Is Metabolism?
- Merck Manuals: Overview of Vitamins
- University of Rochester: Increase Your Energy Level Through Sleep, Nutrition and Exercise
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Brain Fog of Menopause Confirmed
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- FamilyDoctor.org: Fibromyalgia
- American Cancer Society: Thoughts, Emotions and Chemo
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients