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by Sandra Gordon
WHETHER YOU'RE TRYING to help your kids with their homework, divvying up the dinner tab, or multi-task on several major projects at work, your brain works better when you feed it well. In fact, scientists in the pioneering field of nutritional neuroscience are finding that specific nutrients may be able to charge your brains neurotransmitters (messenger cells), thereby enhancing your mental performance and sharpening your memory. These nutrients come in pill form, but the best brain food is a healthy diet, says Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, professor of psychiatry, epidemiology and surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
To give yourself a mental edge, fortify your diet with foods that contain the following neuro nutrients.
What It Does: This important mineral helps myoglobin in muscle cells and hemoglobin in red blood cells ferry oxygen throughout your body, including to your brain. Iron-poor blood has been linked to a short attention span and mental sluggishness.
What It Does: This little-known trace mineral may foster hand-eye coordination and short-term memory.
What It Does: In the body, choline is converted to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which appears to regulate memory and mental sharpness.
What It Does: This B vitamin (also known as folacin or folate) helps maintain your brains levels of memory-boosting choline
What It Does: Vitamins C, E and beta-carotene and other carotenoids (a class of orange plant pigments) help battle cell damage caused by free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules) that may lead to cloudy thought and premature brain aging. Free radicals are unstable because they lack a full complement of electrons so they steal electrons from other molecules, damaging those molecules in the process.
What It Does: This super-unsaturated essential fatty acid helps brain cells forge new connections. With linolenic acid in your diet, you might get it especially complex stuff more easily. Women should get 1.1 grams of linolenic per day.
What It Does: Although its main job is to build strong bones, calcium has also been shown to increase your ability to concentrate during premenstrual days, when hormonal changes impair mental focus.