Improving Cognitive Function: The Best Brain Supplements for Students

In my previous blog post, I looked at the best probiotics for brain function. Continuing the theme of the best vitamins and supplements for the brain, in this post, I am going to explore the best vitamins and supplements that can help to support cognitive function as classrooms and universities get going again.

What is Cognitive Function?

Cognitive function is a term that refers to different mental abilities, these include:

  • Learning
  • Remembering
  • Problem-solving
  • Concentrating 
  • Decision-making

Therefore, when we talk about using supplements for brain function, these are all the areas we are looking at. There are a few different supplements that can help to support healthy cognitive function and a healthy brain. 

Brain Supplements for Students

1. DHA For Brain Health

When considering which are the best brain supplements for students, DHA has to come top of the list. 

DHA is known as an Essential Fatty Acid – this means it is a fat that our body needs us to include in our diets or supplements in order to support optimum health. 

DHA is one of the ‘good’ fats often written about. An omega 3 fatty acid, DHA is found primarily in oily fish like salmon, trout, sardines, and mackerel. If your diet does not include at least two to three portions of these fish every week – and let’s be fair, many don’t – then the chances are that you will be low in DHA. This is why you may want to consider a supplement

DHA has many proven benefits for health and wellbeing, including: 

  • Contributing to a healthy brain
  • Helping to support healthy vision
  • Working with EPA (another Essential Fatty Acid) to support heart health. 

2. Iron For Cognitive Development

As babies, we are born with enough stored iron for the first six months. After this point, both children and adults need iron to be provided either in the diet or if necessary, a supplement can be added. 

Most people know that iron is required for the healthy formation of red blood cells. However, Iron has many other important roles to play in our body, including: 

  • Supporting healthy energy production
  • Helping to transport oxygen around the body
  • Helping to reduce tiredness and fatigue
  • Supporting the healthy function of the immune system
  • Contributing to cell division
  • Supporting healthy cognitive function. 

In the diet, the best source of iron is red meats. This is because this is the easiest iron source for our body to absorb and use. In vegetarian and plant-based diets, iron can be found in spinach, broccoli, beans, lentils, and fortified foods. However, the iron in these foods can be harder for the body to process and absorb, and many plant-based diets can therefore be low in iron. So, when considering supplements for brain function and concentration, it may be worth considering whether you may benefit from an iron supplement

Did you know? Studies have been carried out showing the importance of healthy iron intake in school children, and the impact low iron levels in young children can have on cognitive development, concentration, and classroom performance. (1)

3. Zinc For Cognitive Function

Zinc is another mineral that plays many important roles in our body, including being important to cognitive function. 

The best food source of zinc is oysters! However, as most people do not consume oysters on a daily basis, the best way to ensure that your diet is rich in zinc is to include foods such as seafood, beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, eggs, and whole grains. Meat is also a source of zinc. It is important to ensure that you are getting enough zinc in your diets because of the many roles it plays in supporting health and wellbeing.

As well as supporting healthy cognitive function, zinc is also needed to: 

  • Support healthy skin, hair, and nails
  • Support healthy bones
  • Help to support a healthy immune system
  • Help support healthy fertility and reproduction
  • Support healthy vision. 

If you are looking for supplements to support healthy cognitive function in the classroom, zinc is certainly worth your consideration. 

(1) Jáuregui-Lobera I. Iron deficiency and cognitive functions. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2014;10:2087-2095. Published 2014 Nov 10. doi:10.2147/NDT.S72491

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