Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on:

Do you feel like your brain is in a fog? Maybe it’s hard to focus, or you’re not thinking as clearly as you normally do. If this sounds like you, then you may be dealing with brain fog.

Brain fog can make it difficult to concentrate at work or school and can even lead to problems with memory and decision-making.

While brain fog can be frustrating, there are ways to improve your brain health and get rid of the fog, such as following an anti brain fog diet.

In this article, we will discuss ten nutrients that can help clear the fog and improve your mental clarity and overall cognitive function.

We will also provide tips on which foods you should include in your diet and which foods cause brain fog.

Let’s get started.

What is brain fog, exactly?

Brain fog or mental fog is a term used to describe feelings of mental fatigue, confusion, or cloudiness. It can make you feel like your head is in a fog, making it difficult to think clearly.

While brain fog can be a nuisance, it is important to remember that it is not a medical condition. It is simply a symptom of an underlying issue.

Brain fog is often a mild cognitive impairment that lasts for a few days to a couple of weeks, but other people may experience it as cognitive dysfunction that lingers for a few months, depending on the severity of their underlying condition.

Causes

Brain fog can be caused by many different things, including:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Sleep disorders
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor diet
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Dehydration
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Medical conditions
  • Treatment and medication side effects.

Symptoms

Brain fog can present itself in many different ways. Some common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble finding the right words
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with decision-making
  • Struggles with problem-solving
  • Irritability or low mood

Brain fog can make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks, and it can be frustrating for those who are dealing with it.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your cognitive health and combat brain fog!

What Foods Help with Brain Fog: Nutrients to Include in Your Anti Brain Fog Diet

Including certain nutrients in your diet can help fight brain fog and improve cognitive function. Here are ten nutrients that you should include in your diet:

1) Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin B complex includes all of the B vitamins, which are essential for cognitive health.

These vitamins help the body produce energy and keep the nervous system functioning properly, essentially preventing health issues like chronic fatigue syndrome.

Studies show that a deficiency in any of the B vitamins, especially vitamin B12, can lead to brain fog, so it is important to make sure you are getting enough of them in your diet.

Good sources of vitamin B complex include:

  • leafy green vegetables
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole grains
  • poultry
  • seafood
  • eggs
  • red meat
  • dairy.

If you are not getting enough B vitamins from your diet, you may want to consider taking a supplement.

2) Vitamin C

This is an important nutrient for brain health. It helps improve blood flow to the brain and protects brain cells from damage.

Research shows that vitamin C deficiency can lead to cognitive impairment, so it is important to make sure you are getting enough of this nutrient in your diet.

Good sources of vit C include:

  • citrus fruits
  • strawberries
  • kiwis
  • melons
  • bell peppers
  • dark green leafy vegetables.

You can also get vitamin C from supplements. However, it is always best to get nutrients from food sources whenever possible.

3) Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important nutrient for cognitive health. It helps improve brain function and has been shown to protect against cognitive decline.

Studies reveal that vitamin D deficiency is linked to brain fog and other cognitive impairments, so it is important to make sure you are getting enough of this nutrient in your diet or through supplementation.

Good sources of vitamin D include:

  • fatty fish
  • mushrooms
  • fortified milk and orange juice
  • fortified cereals supplements
  • supplements.

Exposure to sunlight is also an excellent way to get vitamin D. However, make sure to follow the right technique when going sunbathing to avoid sunburns or skin issues.

Research found that the best time to get vitamin D from the sun at minimal risk of getting skin cancer is at noon—when the sun is high up in the sky.

It is recommended to get midday sun exposure for 10 to 30 minutes without wearing any sunscreen, depending on how sensitive your skin is, and just apply sunscreen before you start burning.

Vitamin D deficiency is fairly common, so it may be necessary to take a supplement if you are not getting enough of this nutrient from your diet or exposure to sunlight.

You can get your vitamin D levels checked with a blood test, and your doctor can recommend the right dosage for you if you need to take a supplement.

4) Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an important antioxidant for brain health. It helps protect your brain cell membranes from damage and has been shown to slow down mild cognitive impairment and improve overall cognitive function.

Studies show that vitamin E deficiency is linked to cognitive decline, so it is important to make sure you are getting enough of this nutrient in your diet.

Good sources of vitamin E include:

  • vegetable oils
  • nuts and seeds
  • green leafy vegetables
  • fortified cereals.

You can also get vitamin E from supplements. However, it is always best to get nutrients from food sources whenever possible.

Vitamin E is fat-soluble, so it is important to include healthy fats in your diet when you are trying to get enough of this nutrient.

Good fats include:

  • avocados
  • olives or olive oil
  • nuts and seeds
  • nut butter
  • vegetable oils.

Including these healthy fats in your diet will help improve the absorption of vitamin E.

5) Antioxidants

Antioxidants are important for cognitive health. They help protect your brain cells from damage and improve your overall brain function.

Research shows that antioxidants can help improve cognitive performance and reduce the risk of cognitive decline as your age.

Some good sources of antioxidants include:

  • berries
  • dark chocolate
  • green tea
  • spices such as ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon
  • vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts.

You can also get antioxidants from supplements. However, it is always best to get nutrients from brain food sources whenever possible.

6) Choline

Choline is required by the body to create acetylcholine, a critical neurotransmitter involved in memory, muscular movement, and mood.

Studies show that choline deficiency can cause a slew of issues, including mood problems, poor memory and learning abilities, muscular cramps, and fatty liver disease.

Good sources of choline include:

  • eggs
  • soybeans and tofu
  • chicken
  • beef
  • nuts.

Also, choline is found in two forms: phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin.

Phosphatidylcholine is the primary source of choline in the diet and can be found in:

  • soy lecithin
  • wheat germ
  • corn oil
  • egg yolks.

Sphingomyelin is found mainly in animal products, such as:

  • beef
  • pork
  • dairy.

You may also get choline from supplements. However, when it’s feasible, nutrients should always be obtained through food sources.

7) Flavonoids

Flavonoids, formerly known as vitamin P, are a group of plant-based chemicals found in brightly colored fruits, vegetables, cocoa, tea, and wine. They are a type of antioxidant with neuroprotective effects.

Flavonoids, according to research, have the ability to protect neurons against damage caused by neurotoxins, inhibit neuroinflammation, and enhance memory learning and cognitive performance.

Good sources of flavonoids include:

  • tea
  • red wine
  • dark chocolate
  • citrus fruits
  • berries
  • apples
  • cherries
  • onions
  • soybeans.

You may also get flavonoids from supplements. However, when it’s possible, nutrients should always be gotten through food sources.

8) Iron

Iron is a mineral that is important for brain function. It helps carry oxygen to the brain and other organs in the body.

Iron deficiency, according to research, has been linked to cognitive problems, including poor attention span, decreased mental processing speed, and impaired memory.

Good sources of iron include:

  • red meat
  • poultry
  • seafood
  • beans
  • dark leafy greens.

You may also get iron through supplements. However, when it is feasible, food should always be the preferred method of obtaining nutrients.

9) Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body.

It is important for brain function, digestive health, energy production, and muscle and nerve function.

Studies show that magnesium deficiency can cause poor memory, cognitive problems, anxiety, and depression.

Good sources of magnesium include:

  • spinach
  • kale
  • swiss chard
  • black beans
  • edamame
  • avocados
  • quinoa
  • brown rice.

You may also obtain magnesium from supplements. However, food should always be used as the most effective strategy to consume nutrients.

10) Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-three fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is important for brain health. They help support cognitive function, brain development, and mood.

Studies reveal that omega-3s can help improve memory, reduce inflammation, and protect against age-related mental decline.

Good sources of omega-three fatty acids include:

  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • sardines
  • anchovies
  • herring
  • trout
  • cod liver oil.

You may also get omega-three fatty acids from supplements. However, food sources should always be used when possible to consume nutrients.

What foods cause brain fog?

Brain fog can be caused by a variety of different things—from dehydration to sleep deprivation, and even certain foods.

When trying to combat brain fog, it is important to identify what might be causing it in the first place.

Here are some common culprits when it comes to your diet:

Sugar: Sugar provides a quick burst of energy, but it is quickly followed by a crash. This can leave you feeling tired and sluggish and can cause brain fog.

Processed foods: Processed foods are often high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and additives that can cause brain fog.

Alcohol: Alcohol can dehydrate the body and disrupt sleep, both of which can lead to brain fog.

Dairy: Too much consumption of dairy products can cause inflammation, which can lead to brain fog.

Gluten: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It can cause inflammation, brain fog, and other symptoms in people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

If you think one of these culprits might be causing your brain fog, try eliminating it from your diet for a week to see if your brain fog symptoms improve.

Concluding Thoughts

Brain fog can be a frustrating and debilitating condition. It can affect your performance at school or work, impact your relationships, and cause you to lose enthusiasm in your day-to-day activities.

However, there are things that you can do to help clear the fog.

By following an anti brain fog diet—that is, by eating brain foods that are rich in nutrients like flavonoids, omega-three fatty acids, and magnesium—you can help improve your cognitive function and overall brain health.

In addition, by avoiding foods that can cause brain fog—such as sugar, processed foods, alcohol, dairy, and gluten—you can help prevent the condition from worsening.

If you are struggling with brain fog, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to develop a meal plan that is right for you.

If you want to learn more about brain fog treatment options and how to enhance your overall cognitive performance, we have plenty of helpful articles on our blog.

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