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Your Brain on Plants: Cognition-Boosting for Vegans

cognition boosting vegans

Today’s guest post comes from Lauren Laporte. She’s a professional health and wellness writer at ripped.me, and often contributes to other publications dealing with subjects in the niche. In this post, Lauren is going to address veganism and cognitive health. Her article discusses B12 and some myths about the plant-based diet and cognition/memory, and it features some cognition-boosting tips too. Enjoy!

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When you start thinking about transitioning to the vegan lifestyle, your mind will be filled with questions. How will you get enough protein? What about micronutrients and avoiding deficiencies? Will you have enough energy if you change your diet so drastically? And most of all, will your cognitive powers stay the same? One of the most common misconceptions about veganism is that you are at risk of cognitive decline simply because you eat a vegan diet.

However, when you eat healthily, track your macro and micronutrients, and regularly check to make sure you’re not deficient in any nutrient, there’s no need for your vegan diet to cause you trouble. One of the simplest ways to fortify your diet with the right nutrients is to include very specific, cognitive-boosting food sources and supplements.

Vitamin B12

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This mighty vitamin, a member of the vitamin B family, is a key component of a healthy diet. Found in many foods such as fish, poultry, eggs, and milk, people who want to switch to a vegan diet fear this vitamin will be difficult to come by. Due to its importance for proper brain function, every vegan should consider consuming foods fortified with B12, such as fortified cereals, fortified plant-based milks, and finally, supplements.

A B12 deficiency takes time to develop. Its symptoms can vary from fatigue, anemia, and low energy levels all the way to cognitive decline, so it’s best to think preventatively! The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms per day, and future moms or breastfeeding moms often need more. You can use that as a general rule of thumb when designing your own diet plan.

Magnesium

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This micromineral is considered essential for our wellbeing, since it plays a vital role in many bodily and metabolic functions. Your body uses magnesium to keep your bones healthy by aiding in calcium absorption. It regulates your heart health, and it is crucial for brain health when it comes to learning and memory. In countries such as Australia, where more people are going vegan every day, there’s a very strong focus on ensuring ample magnesium sources in the diet.

That’s why taking magnesium supplements in Australia has become a growing trend, especially among vegan athletes who want to enrich their plant-based diets. But alternatively, focusing on magnesium-rich foods such as nuts and seeds, green leafy veggies, and whole grains can be a very healthy, balanced way to avoid a deficiency.

Vitamin D

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Although you’ll hear many people complain that the vegan diet lacks this particular vitamin, it’s important to note that no matter what lifestyle you choose, many people have some form of vitamin D deficiency. Since it’s known as the “sunshine vitamin”, we can do our best to spend more time in the sun (with ample sunscreen, of course) due to its importance for our memory and other brain functions.

In addition, we should also try to add more of this important micronutrient into our diets. If you’re considering a supplement, make sure the vitamin D3 comes from a vegan source such as lichen. Also, talk to your doctor to see if your country has specific guidelines when consuming this supplement. Places such as Australia and the Mediterranean countries — such as Spain — get plenty of sun all year round. If you live in the north, you may need to follow a different set of guidelines.

Ginkgo Biloba

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If you’ve been a vegan for a while, you must have heard about this potent plant. The dried plant is used in a variety of forms, such as tea and supplements, but you can also consume it in the form of liquid extracts, all of which have the potential to help improve cognitive function. In fact everyone, not just vegans, could benefit from adding this wonderful plant to their diets!

Due to its nutritional value, researchers believe this plant helps to reduce cognitive decline and boost blood flow to the brain. If you’re worried that your diet may be incomplete in any way, or you want to make sure your vegan lifestyle is based on healthy choices that support your overall wellbeing, adding this plant could be a good way to enrich your diet.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can pose a threat to your wellbeing irrespective of your lifestyle choices. If you’re vegan and you want to make sure your diet is rich in vitamins and minerals that protect your brain, you can consult your physician about these micronutrients and add them to your diet to stay healthy and resilient!

 

 


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