Nutrition and your success in exams are closely related. There are a large number of nutrients which are vital to brain function, and consequently memory and the process of thinking, both of which are necessary for you to perform at your best in exams.

Did you know that eating a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables preserves memory and boosts alertness?

Let’s discuss some of the different sources of nutrition and how they can affect your brain function.


Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant which reduces the number of free radicals in your body.

The brain is particularly susceptible to free radicals which are damaging, unstable molecules. Vitamin E reduces the damage these free radicals cause.

Good sources of nutrition for this vitamin are almonds, green leafy vegetables, corn oil, sunflower oil, hazelnuts and whole grain flower.


Vitamin B-6 is vital for the body to create neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine and serotonin. These are big mood and alertness chemicals.

Each B vitamin plays it’s own role in preserving brain function and mental acuity. A few studies have shown a link between declines in memory and inadequate levels of folic acid, vitamin B-12, and vitamin B-6.


Vitamin B-12 is important in the formation of myelin which forms layers or a sheath around nerve fibres and creates insulation.

A deficiency could lead to nerve damage, memory loss, low moods, and mental slowness.

Sources of nutrition for this vitamin are mainly meats such as beef, pork, lamb, veal, fish and poultry.


Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that can intercept free radicals before they affect the brain. It’s found in broccoli, legumes, oranges, strawberries and potatoes.


The cognitive ability of the brain is related to the blood glucose concentration. In other words, the brain thinks real well when it has food. Since the glucose is its food, it is good to have the correct blood sugar.

Not only is the thought process affected, all areas of the brain need sugar. So if the sugar level is off, our mood will change.

Usually people with a low blood sugar will be very irritable. Once they eat and replace their blood sugars, their mood will dramatically improve.


These nutrients support the production of GABA (see below) which supports the transmission of nerve impulses between cells in the brain.


GABA (or gamma-amino butyric acid) is an amino acid that supports the transmission of nerve impulses between cells in the brain to help you function at peak mental capacity.


Magnesium is an important brain nutrient because it protects the brain from neurotoxins.

It’s source of nutrition is nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens and whole grains. Cooked and processed foods also lose a lot of magnesium.


St. John’s Wort is a herbal extract which supports emotional balace and mental well-being. It provides support for the healthy function of the nervous system.

In promoting a healthy outlook and a positive mental attitude, it improves your attention, concentration and reaction time.


Omega-3 fatty acids support your brain and central nervous system and promote a positive mental outlook. They are found in certain fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and tuna.

In order for your cells to maintain their thin, fatty, outer membrane which is needed to transport nutrients in and out of the cell and produce energy, they need essential fatty acids such as Omega-3.


Ginko Biloba improves circulation to your brain and enhances your brain’s ability to use oxygen. By doing so, it helps to promote and maintain your mental sharpness, alertness, memory, concentration and focus.

It also contains antioxidants which direct their antioxidant effects to the brain and central nervous system.


Folate or folic acid is another important B vitamin for the brain. Getting adequate folate can make you a little more alert and improve memory and focus.

It helps lower blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine that is known to damage brain cells.

It’s source of nutrition is many foods such as beans, fruits, green leafy vegetables, lentils, and whole wheat cereals.


Caffeine is a psychoactive drug, meaning it alters mood, thinking or behaviour.

Caffeine speeds up the functions of the central nervous system and stimulates thinking, keeps people awake and suppresses appetite.

In large doses, caffeine can produce headaches, jitters, nervousness and even delirium. This is especially so for someone not used to taking caffeine.


The news about lead and the brain is not good. Scientists think that even small amounts of lead in the body can lower intelligence, promote anti-social behavior, contribute to attention-deficits, and cause progressive mental decline.

Scientists have also studied what happens to physical parts of the brain when lead is introduced.

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