Proper nutrition not only helps to keep your body in peak performance, it also helps to maintain your brain function. Brain nourishment can be particularly important in times of high stress or when concentration is critical, such as on long drives. You can help your brain to function at its best by providing the right vitamins and minerals for processing the bio-chemicals it needs.
The B vitamins are critical to proper brain function, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Vitamin B-6, B-12, niacin, thiamine and folate (or Folic acid) are all important in maintaining the neurotransmitter chemicals that are necessary for good concentration and cognitive functioning. Taking a multivitamin with these compounds can help to maintain proper nutrition of brain cells, but you can also eat foods that are rich in B-vitamins, such as whole grains cereals and breads, leafy vegetables, milk products, almonds, pecans, tuna and salmon.
The proper amount of vitamin C can also contribute to good brain function, focused concentration and good reaction time. Many people choose to take a vitamin C supplement daily, but you can get a sufficient amount of vitamin C by eating citrus fruits, kiwi, broccoli, leafy vegetables, tomatoes and green peppers.
Vitamin E has antioxidant properties that help concentration and cognitive function. It helps to produce the neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. It’s better to get vitamin E from food than from supplements that can lead to overdoses. Foods that are rich in vitamin E include almonds, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, dried apricots and cooked spinach. Consuming these foods while on the road can help to keep your concentration sharp and focused.
Iodine is essential to good brain function and activities like concentration during long drives and well as for the nervous system. Most people get sufficient amounts of iodine from salt that is iodized and used in cooking, but if you think you need an iodine boost, try eating a cooked egg, turkey breast or some tuna.
A lack of iron in the diet can cause dizziness, particularly when fatigued from long drives; it can also cause difficulties with concentration. Women in particular can suffer from iron anemia because they lose iron during menstruation. You can prevent dizziness on long drives by taking iron pills on a regular basis or by ensuring that you consume foods that are rich in iron, such as red meat, egg yolks, dried fruits, iron-enriched grains or lentils and other types of beans.
Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in many metabolic processes in the body. It can help with concentration and focused activity. Many people may not get sufficient magnesium in their diets. Foods rich in magnesium to help boost concentration and brain function include bran, cocoa powder, pumpkin seeds and dates.
Selenium helps the brain to manufacture important enzymes and antioxidants in the brain, as well as in other tissues of the body. To ensure you have enough selenium for best brain function, eat shellfish, liver, nuts and bacon.
Zinc is another important mineral involved in the metabolic processes of the brain. Deficiencies of this mineral can cause problems in the neurotransmitting ability of brain chemicals. For a zinc boost, eat wheat germ, oysters, peanuts and pumpkin seeds.