Micronutrients are made of the vitamins and minerals that mom always wanted you to eat so badly as a child. It turns out your mother wasn’t lying; many of these micronutrients are required for your brain to function properly in order to work longer, stay focused, and think more creatively. Given that high performance entrepreneurs and business owners need all the help they can get, starting with nature’s bounty may be the best first step.
Despite the obvious advantages of using micronutrients to improve brain health, most people have a diet deficient in the most important vitamins and minerals. This deficiency is not only making you feel miserable, but it is affecting your ability to be successful. Here are six micronutrients that you should make sure you are getting every day to stay on your A-game.
1. Vitamin D
This is an essential vitamin that requires sunlight for humans to synthesize. People who live in northern geographic locations where there is a lot of overcast may not create enough vitamin D through the sun. Having enough vitamin D can improve your memory and it has recently been connected to improving serotonin, which is the chemical in the brain that improves mood.
If you are struggling to spend time in the sun or it is always overcast, you can supplement with vitamin D. Try to eat more fish or even take two 4000 I.U. supplements throughout the day.
Even though magnesium sounds like a metal, it is an essential nutrient to nourish your brain and body that the majority of people are deficient in. Magnesium can help improve your cell’s ability to create energy, which is obviously important for any entrepreneur who doesn’t sleep. Instead of improving energy through stimulation, it can actually help you to relax and improve your sleep quality.
Leafy green vegetables have a lot of magnesium, as do nuts. If you cannot eat both of these, try to find an adequate source of magnesium as a supplement. The best types of magnesium for absorption are glycinate and L-threonate. Adults should consume between 320 mg and 420 mg for women and men a day, respectively.
Most memories are stored in the brain with the help of a chemical called acetylcholine. The best way to release this chemical is to consume choline, which your body converts. Not only is choline important for memory and protecting your neurological connections, but it can also improve your focus and mental energy.
Up to 90% of the population is deficient in choline because the best sources are eggs and organ meats from animals. Most people don’t eat organ meats so supplementation is useful; particularly CDP choline and alpha GPC choline which are the two best sources for this vital micronutrient. Try to get 400 to 500 mg of choline daily.
4. Folate (Vitamin B9)
This B-vitamin is tricky because supplementation is not always the best option. Folate is important for protecting your brain and preventing degeneration and cancer. Foods that have folate include beans, broccoli and leafy green vegetables. If you do not get enough folate in your diet, use a supplement, but do so sparingly because too much folate can mask a deficiency in vitamin B12 leading to anemia as well as other side effects. An average adult should consume 400 µg (micrograms) of B9 a day.
Enzymes in the human body are used to convert chemicals and are generally useful for optimal brain function. Without zinc, many of these enzymes are not able to do their job to give your the brain the chemicals needed to focus on your work. Zinc can be found in various meats (such as shrimp), eggs, and beans, but supplementation may be a good idea. For adults, try 8-11 mg of zinc per day, but don’t take it with calcium or else it won’t absorb properly!
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Some people may not consider omega-3 fatty acids to be a micronutrient, but it is one of the most important for adequate brain health and function. Your brain is mostly made up of fat and providing this healthy option can vastly improve mental energy and memory. Be careful to use fish oil because it is special compared to flaxseed and other vegetarian options. Try to get 1700 to 2000 mg of total omega-3 fatty acids with around 600 from DHA and 400 from EPA.
Improving brain function will help improve your mental clarity and lead to more success, but the first step is to get adequate micronutrients. If you are eating a diet rich in whole foods, fruits, and vegetables, there is a good chance you are already getting many of these micronutrients.
Aside from nutrients, there are an entire class of “nootropics,” or cognitive enhancing drugs, that can help to improve your brain power further. As the second part of this series will show, there is a whole world of brain supplementation that can help to up your business game.
Photo courtesy of The Huffington Post.